Port O’Brien
All We Could Do Was Sing

***1/2
Dew Process

This album is measured in nautical miles. The song titles (“Stuck On A Boat”, “Fisherman’s Son”) aren’t just high-concept ideas - Port O’Brien’s lead singer, Van Pierszalowski, has a seafaring father. Each summer, they head out on a ship that can hold 45,000 pink salmon, looking for their catch. This explains the album’s disclaimer (“Friends Don’t Let Friends Eat Farmed Salmon”) and tracks like “Valdez”, in which the band are royally ticked off with oil spill villains, Exxon Valdez. Port O’Brien’s other main member is Cambria Goodwin: her voice brushes by like a clean breeze, while Pierszalowski’s has a coarse edge, like salt-stung air. With songs that have a rickety-boat charm, and melodies full of choppy momentum, this American four-piece recall early Modest Mouse (especially on “The Rooftop Song”). This strong debut, paired with the fact their biggest cheerleader has been M. Ward, suggests that Port O’Brien won’t be aimlessly adrift anytime soon.

Rolling Stone, July 2008