Who? Port O’Brien is Van Pierszalowski (vocals/guitar), Cambria Goodwin (vocals/banjo), Caleb Nichols (bass), and Josh Barnhart (drums). Their record The Wind and the Swell is out now on American Dust Records, and they are currently touring the West Coast. The band lays its collective head in Oakland, California.
What’s the Deal? Port O’Brien’s sound is caught somewhere between cups of coffee one and two after a long night of drinking in Nashville or New York City or anywhere at all — it’s a little tired and a little rough with just a glimmer of home born of last night’s memories and the promise of a new day. All this hazy-headed vitality is convincingly shot through in shout-sung choruses and crackling vocals, but in the end, it all seems to be about the desire to return to sweet sweet sleep, no matter how promising the morning may be. Album opener “I Woke Up Today” sounds nice until you realize that “I woke up today in a very simple way” doesn’t necessarily mean anyone wanted to get out of bed. “Rest My Head” is the song of someone who knows the day can only get better if he goes back to sleep, and “Five and Dime” opens with sparse acoustic guitar chords picking around Pierszalowski’s admission that, “I sleep all through my mornings, spend my afternoons just lying in my bed.” Sleepy-eyed coos and softly-scratched howls whispered just right make up these wish-they-were-lullabies.
Fun Fact: Pierszalowski might have grown up in the Bay Area, but his inspiration comes from farther north. His father is a salmon fisherman, and during the summers, Pierszalowski heads to Kodiak Island in Alaska to work on his father’s boat. Twenty-hour work days sound like bummers, but The Wind and the Swell was born of these trips. JEFFREY PARKER
Talk: Are you disembarking at Port O’Brien?