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Review

Wisconsin band Porcupine impresses with fourth release

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November 13, 2015

As the year winds down, so does the amount and quality of musical releases. Music promoters start to slowly shift their focus on giant box sets with the hope of attracting Christmas shoppers while many musicians shift their musical direction to subpar holiday records. Every once in a while, a record comes out during this time that provides just enough hope to get through the temporary musical darkness. On their fourth release, Carrier Wave, La Crosse, Wisconsin rockers, Porcupine, create an EP of fuzzy bass lines, angsty guitars, and punchy drums.

Any fan of the band knows that half of the fun is waiting to see how the band will follow up the previous release. After the release of the much anticipated and successful EP, I See Sound, many fans were left wondering how the band would top the EP’s exciting and punky sounds. For the members of Porcupine-Casey Virock, Davey Reinders, and Ian Prince-the challenge was accepted. With the help of high profile producer, Steve Albini (The Pixies, Nirvana, Mogwai), Porcupine has slammed back with a powerful collection of six songs that sound straight out of the late 90’s alternative rock scene.

Wasting no time, the band jumps right into the record’s opening track, “The Big Window,” with the line “I look like someone you know/are voices different/uncanny but close.” The lyrics make a clear statement that this is a new era in the band’s progression, the growing pains are gone and a clear path has been laid before them. Musically, the sound retains the classic Porcupine flavor while adding a bit more pop into the melody. The track makes up to be one of the most enjoyable in their entire catalogue. “The Big Window” clears the way to the new Porcupine, which leaves the listener pleasantly anxious to see what’s next.

The third track on the record, “Connecting the Dots,” finds the song’s character lost in the fallout of a poisonous romance and desperately trying to stick it all back together. With its chimey and dissonant guitar part and well-defined drums and bass, the song screams for the live setting. As the drums keep the song moving, the bass line sneaks through the verses like the unwanted thoughts of regret and unfounded hope. The end of the track finds the character asking, “Will she notice?” which can lead to several conclusions about the character’s plans to rebuild.

One of the more sonically different tracks is “I Watch You Float,” a song about the doubt of a new and stable relationship. Opening with a slower tempo and a prominent acoustic guitar and then quickly jumping to a faster pace, the track perfectly displays the tender yet nervous feelings that arise during the early phases of love. The song’s character repeatedly asks, “Is everything good? Should I assume the worst?” which is a connectable question for anyone in a budding relationship. The song is a unique moment of vulnerability in an otherwise confident EP.

On Carrier Wave, Porcupine finds itself in a new world. Their plan of action no longer involves needing to prove themselves. Their salad days are gone and they have found themselves in the middle period. Unlike other bands that get caught in the middle road, Porcupine has redefined themselves and have come back better than ever. With this new set of tracks, Porcupine shows off their confidence while not being afraid to show of an element of vulnerability.

Matthew Clark is a junior journalism student. Besides being the music director at WRFW and the circulation manager at the Student Voice, Clark has become an accomplished musician, performing with the likes of Chicago and Daughtry. He has also contributed to a few movie soundtracks.