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Friday, June 7, 2013

In Case You Missed It: Porcupine - The Sensation of Being Somebody

As is the case with all of the albums I write about in this feature, The Sensation of Being Somebody isn’t exactly new, having been released back in September 2012.  With that said, it’s new to me and I’d wager that it is to you as well.  If not…well then pat yourself on the back, grab yourself a PBR and wait for me right over there…hipster.  Now typically I’d start off by saying something about how Porcupine is a bit of a different animal (pardon the pun) than what we’d normally feature here at Heavy Planet, due to the fact that the band’s sound is bristling (sorry…no more puns) with upbeat tempos, catchy alt-pop melodies and enough sing-along choruses to choke a Beatle.  But you know what, that’s not really necessary, because this three piece outfit from La Crosse, Wisconsin lays down their brand of indie rock with some serious stoner rock sensibilities…so we’re good.  

You’ll get a taste of this right off the bat when you hear Casey Virock’s jangly, off-kilter guitar and wry, Homme-esque tenor  on “You Go First” which, at just under a minute, feels almost like an album intro.  And this flows directly into the distorted swoon of “Feels Like I’m Close,” a sort of lazy, hazy lullaby that seems even more so when followed by the quickly paced and mischievously catchy “Witness to a Chase Scene.”  It’s this kind of stylistic variation and unpredictable quirkiness that made early Queens of the Stone Age so much fun, and for much of The Sensation of Being Somebody, comparisons between Porcupine and that band are seemingly apropos.  This’ll be particularly evident when you check out later tracks like “Second Thoughts” and “Pushing Your Buttons” which combine guitar driven hard rock with the harmonized vocal work and off-the-wall rhythms of bassist Dave Reinders and drummer Brian Kerr to create a truly mesmerizing hodgepodge of eccentricity, riffs and rancor.         

And while I certainly don’t want to give the impression that these guys are clones, their knack for writing killer hooks will also likely draw comparisons to The Kinks.  Such is the case on “Calendar” which starts as another addictive sing-along featuring plenty of “oh, oh, oh’s” and…yep, even hand claps…but then gradually transitions into a clamorous bout of post-punk guitar repetition mixed with plenty of voice over samples and other such noise.  These constantly shifting dynamics make The Sensation of Being Somebody an extraordinarily enjoyable listen and they’re the reason you’ll return to it again and again.  Need an example?  Check out “Is It Real” or “No Surprise” which are both strategically placed such that their warm, gentle guitar tones wash away the feedback and fuzz from the songs preceding them with enough harmonious ear candy that even your girlfriend will be reaching for the volume knob...dude, I said VOLUME knob.

But the final third of the album opens with the bright guitar textures and energetic beats of “Hit Me with a Smiley Face,” which, believe it or not, may just be Porcupine’s most accessible tune.  And then comes “Nothing Between Us,” which stands out for two reasons…Reinder’s captivating, staccato bass and an ultra-twangy, slide guitar solo from Virock, which is way too cool for school brother.  And while the “naa…naa…naa’s” that open “Scenery” may seem like an obvious ode to the fab four, I can assure you that the distorted guitar crunch that follows is definitely something you never heard on the White Album.

You know, the blending of pop hooks with garage rock chaos is the kind of thing that Sub-Pop and their ilk built an empire around back in the day.  But that's been some time ago.  So by the time that “Rooftops” closes out The Sensation of Being Somebody with another ridiculously hummable bass line and more sticky sweet melodies, you'll probably be left wondering how, and more importantly why, FM radio in 2013 is still stuck in the 90’s when there's new alternative rock this good being created right underneath their noses.  But you know what?  Fuck them for their ignorance.  Just do yourself a favor and check out Porcupine…because god dammit, it's okay to sing along once in awhile.

1 comment:

  1. these guys are awesome!great band to get your morning started. wish they had more tunes!


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