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The Wind and the Swell

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Album Review

Port O'Brien whip up a hazy, beautiful narcosis on The Wind and the Swell. This album is actually a compilation of sorts, pulling together the best tracks from the self-released efforts of Port O'Brien, the brainchild of northern Californian and sometimes Alaskan fisherman/boat hand Van Pierszalowski (though the project has evolved into an actual band). This collection is clear evidence that Pierszalowski's idiosyncratic alt-rock/weirdo folk deserves the same kind of attention paid to Will Oldham (Palace), Jason Molina (Songs: Ohia), or even M. Ward, who named Port O'Brien his favorite new band the same year this album came out (2007). The loose and spastic gang-singing of "I Woke Up Today," which is pitted against only acoustic guitar and inconsistent percussion, yields up a surprising richness and weirdness that is evocative of Broken Social Scene's more orchestrated, technologically tweaked efforts. The pretty, loose acoustic pop of "My Eyes Won't Shut" melds Pavement-like oddball prettiness with the warped, edgy sensibilities of Neil Young circa On the Beach, while "Five and Dime" proves that there are some real solid, straightforward folk writing chops beneath all of the strangeness. This is a rich and original collection of catchy and brainy folk-pop.


Formed: 2005 in Oakland, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Formed in 2005 around the talents of Van Pierszalowski, Cambria Goodwin, Caleb Nichols, and Joshua Barnhart, California's Port O'Brien occupy the same idiosyncratic alternative folk/indie rock landscape as Jason Molina, Will Oldham, and Pavement. The various bandmembers have day jobs that find them working long hours in bakeries, as well as the fishing boats and salmon canneries in and around Kodiak Island, Alaska; the group's debut album for the American Dust label (The Wind and the Swell) was...
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The Wind and the Swell, Port O'Brien
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