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Port O'Brien

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Album Review

Port O'Brien's 2007 debut helped established the nomadic collective in the upper tier of the wind-swept, Pacific Northwest folk scene. Like Fleet Foxes or Blitzen Trapper, the band's penchant for dreamy, reverb-heavy forays into the wilds of the rainy Northern California coastlines elicited numerous comparisons to indie folk demigods like Will Oldham and Jason Molina, and their blue collar day jobs (crabbers, bakers, and canners) brought an authenticity to the songs that most landlocked bands looking for the ocean in a cornfield with a conch shell lack. 2009's Threadbare follows in its predecessor's wet footsteps, and the death of a bandmember's sibling casts a long shadow over the project that sadly meshes beautifully with the outfit's sparsely delivered, yet emotionally rich sound. Bookended by a pair of oddly infectious laments called "High Without the Hope 3" and "High Without the Hope 72," Threadbare is most compelling when it's operating at half speed. Stand-out cuts like the aforementioned "High Without Hope 3," "Next Season," and the brooding title cut feel distinctly of the moment, and while the more upbeat tracks on Threadbare are competent and downright catchy, they're ultimately engulfed by the fog from which they were born.


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...
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Threadbare, Port O'Brien
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