I can’t really explain why this review has gotten put off for so long. Port O’Brien’s new EP “Nowhere to Run” has been hovering around the station and the town in general for a little while. During that time, I’ve seen them play twice. Still, the album only just found its way over to me sometime this week when I found it sitting on a cabinet in the station.
The album is primarily the work of Van Pierszalowski and Cambria Goodwin, both from Cambria. The town of Cambria alone seems to be one of those rich little folk towns with close proximity to the wonders of Big Sur.
But whatever is given to the band by life in Cambria is supplemented by the time that Pierszalowski spends on Kodiak Island in Alaska where he works as a commercial fisherman from late May to August. One of my friends follows this same path and it has left him with a horrific addiction to coffee due to the fact that he works mid-ocean all day getting at best around four hours of sleep.
The atmosphere is just right for a great little album. It’s nice and rough with catchy pieces strewn within. The transitions aren’t clean and little pieces bristle in and out with appended short songs thrown onto the main tracks.
It feels scatterbrained and a little ADD but in a way that is entirely involving. It functions in a way that is entirely stream-of-consciousness. And like a good story in that vein, the shifting focus is well thought out.
Opening song “A Bird Flies By” breezes in with light strumming and some of those sad bastard music vocals, but about midway it kicks and it kicks hard. Vocals are scattered and slightly off-pace from each other and it warbles so endearingly.
It opens the EP well by scattering instrumentation around the song until suddenly stops mid-chaos.
“The Rooftop Song” perhaps best exemplifies the scattering instruments with some dirty-sounding horns permeating at random through the speakers creating a very beautiful track. A cover of the last track on Nirvana’s “Nevermind” closes the albuma and in context works well because it’s not that hard to imagine a dirty Alaskan fisherman covering Cobain tunes.
The great centerpiece of the album is “I Woke Up Today.” If you investigate anything about this album, this is the song to dig up. Way before I had the album I’d been through a large amount of plays of it on the band’s MySpace page (yspace.com/portobrien).
The song is quite possibly one of the best that’s come from any band with relations to SLO this year. It’s upbeat and jostles along with shaking tambourines and a howling chorus of vocals that finds itself somewhere between tribal cult and bar chant. It pulls me in the same way I feel when listening to Animal Collective’s “Grass” while still falling somewhere into the college radio territory I venture into with my mom like Destroyer and Vetiver.
Port O’Brien has given us a good EP that definitely proves that they are one of the great bands from the area right now, both live and on album. And if you haven’t caught a live show from them, you should put it on your schedule. The band opens larger to contain members of the Bloody Heads for a thrilling show. Also, they cover Ludacris’ “Move Bitch.”
Show tip: Captain Chaos and Paul Baribeau will be playing on Dec. 3. It’s a show I’ve been looking forward to a lot as Paul Baribeau’s album is a fantastic singer-songwriter piece. However, in true DIY fashion there is no venue yet. Keep on the DIY SLO MySpace for more information (myspace.com/diyslo).
Graham Culbertson is a journalsim junior and general manager for KCPR.