It is interesting how specific songs end up as the soundtrack for particular moments in our lives. Port O'Brien's unbelievably infectious track "I Woke Up Today" has done just that, after being drilled into our eardrums through various online radio outlets. The recent release of the video for the song was simply the icing on the cake, with the images of the dancing shark now permanently burned into our memories, reappearing each time this song pops back on here at the office.
Port O'Brien has done an outstanding job at getting themselves placed on the indie rock map. Being namechecked by M. Ward definitely helped, as did opening up for Modest Mouse, The Cave Singers and many others. Combining elements of Americana, folk and indie rock, their sound gives them an air of accessibility that many of their blog-hyped counterparts have been missing. The songs are warm and inviting, with many chant/sing-along moments that make this such a perfect record for the warm days of summer.
This five-piece ensemble is comprised of Van Pierszalowski (guitars/vocals), Cambria Goodwin (banjo, vocals, keys, mandolin), T.M. Stevens (bass, vocals), Joshua Barnhart (drums, vocals, autoharp) and Zebedee Zaitz (guitars, vocals, keys). They open All We Could Do Was Sing with the stomper "I Woke Up Today," complete for the previously mentioned chant-along greatness and a catchy as hell melody on acoustic guitar. It is simple pop perfection.
There is a different side to Port O'Brien, a solemn beauty which can be heard on tracks such as "Fisherman's Son." Layered vocals are complimented by a delicate acoustic guitar and a string section, eventually leading to the addition of drums to help move things along. This shows the strength in the songwriting of the band, easily adding in musical depth and diversity to the album. On the flip side there is "Close The Lid," showing that they can get their rock on, dropping in some electric guitars for some extra bite.
As Port O'Brien's All We Could Do Was Sing drifts along from folk to indie rock, the subtle shifts in their sound work perfectly to help tell the stories within each song. The basic framework of the songwriting adds cohesiveness throughout the entire disc, making this a truly great body of work. If we happened to be stranded on an island, we'd be all smiles too if it were Port O'Brien who happened to find us.
"I Woke Up Today"