Port O'Brien All We Could Do Was Sing
    • THURSDAY, JULY 10, 2008

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    No one should be surprised to discover that at the core of this band is a man named Van Pierszalowski, who every summer, works on his fathers commercial salmon fishing boat on Kodiak Island in Alaska (dubbed The Shawnee). And a woman, named Cambria Goodwin, who used to live in the coastal town she shares her name with. These things are ingrained, even screaming, at the heart of this record. Without them, it wouldn't make any sense. One sound clip depicts two people discussing trying to "get out" and "beat the weather" that will eventually fall on them. The alternative? "Stay and suffer." Certainly this is the dichotomy at the heart of the record.

    After careful listening, I've determined the album title should be changed from All We Could Do Was Sing to Departure From Port O'Brien, Into Infinity. This gem of nautical indie rock record feels more like the beginning of a voyage at sea, complete with terminology, references to being fisherman, and the feeling that there is really no jumping ship until you get to the end. It's so cohesive, it's like leaping into the ice cold water of silence out of a slowly rocking ship, bound for brighter shores. We're not there yet, and the journey is filled with gentle, calm waters, as well as raging winds and rain. So what if every other word on the album is "fishing," "sailing," or something related? The imagery is still haunting, fresh and powerful. And there is plenty of joy, jumping, and happiness. It's a great balance.

    Through the storms and the peace that are littered throughout the record, it's almost impossible to isolate one moment as more or less critical or standing out. The ups and downs certainly hit a high point for me when we reach the climactic "Close The Lid," which starts out thin, and is eventually filled in with a dramatic drum/bass entrance, and a drive to the finish. "Valdez" seems like an afterthought, but an afterthought to a powerful trip. The album stands as a well-crafted vessel, which will eventually make it to the far shore... but not yet, I hope. I'd like to see more sea-faring from this bunch.-joe puglisi

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