Though they've built a steadfast reputation for raising the collective pulse of enthralled audiences wherever they play, Port O'Brien
recently scaled back their no holds bar sing-a-longs for an exclusive acoustic performance in the Guest Apartment. In truth, it's been something we've been trying to arrange ever since we first heard last year's stunning, break through release, All We Could Do Was Sing
. In town for a set of shows in support of their recently released Threadbare
album, we jumped at the opportunity to finally work with the band. What follows is the crowning achievement.
Playing three songs from Threadbare
, Cambria Goodwin
, Van Pierszalowski
, and Ryan Stively
perform magically in the acoustic alignment, exhibiting the band's incredible knack for nurturing magnitudes of emotion in every song they play. Though no electricity was needed, one member did fancy a nap in the middle of the session (they've been busy, after all), recruiting our favorite resident mascot for a bit of much needed R&R. Poor Jupiter may never be the same (See "Love Me Through"). - David Pitz
Port O'Brien began as the bedroom recording project of Van Pierszalowski and Cambria Goodwin.
As the songs grew legs and spread among friends, live performances became inevitable. Sprouting from the isolated coastal village of Cambria, California (yes, her namesake), the band collected kindred spirits along the way and has blossomed into a full band. The band released All We Could Do Was Sing in the summer of 2008. All We Could Do Was Sing captured the life Van and Cambia lived throughout their never ending summers in Alaska. Van is a commercial fisherman, spending every summer on his father's fishing boat off the coast of Kodiak Island. Cambria is the head baker at the cannery in Larson Bay, supplying pastries, breads, and deserts for the entire seasonal fishing community. But with the release of their first album, their lives were no longer seasonal. They toured. And toured. And toured. They were on the road all year long, shifting inspirations from the desolation and hard work of Alaska to the experience of seeing the world through the windows of a tour van.
As 2009 began, the band started to prepare songs for what was to become Threadbare. What started as a light-hearted and loose effort quickly turned into a dense, introspective work following the tragic loss of Cambria's younger brother. They started recording at their friend Jason Quever's living room studio in San Francisco. The songs were given a certain warmth and intimacy that couldn't be achieved in a larger space. The sense of comfort they found gave them the ability to fully realize the weight of the songs. "In the Meantime" explores the desire for contentment in tumultuous times. "High Without the Hope" bookends the album, illuminating the emotion and sense of loss that was felt throughout the recording process.
After spending weeks recording with Jason, the band felt they could work in a more open space. They worked on the more celebratory and rhythmic songs in Los Angeles with Aaron Espinoza at the Ship. "My Will is Good" and "Oslo Campfire" describe the liberation that follows in the wake of making active changes in one's life following tragedy.
Together these sessions create Threadbare. Its become somewhat of a two sided record with dark, haunting, and at times meditative songs paired up with the untiring, somewhat aggressive and punchy anthems that Port O'Brien is becoming known for. The last few years have seen many adventures for the band. The creation of this record came with continuing changes both within the band personally, and sonically. Port O'Brien will continue to evolve. In the meantime, Threadbare stands as another mark this young band has left.