Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Patrick Porter-A Swan at Smiley’s

May 1, 2008

(Myspace.com/patrickportermusic)Patrick Porter – A Swan at Smiley’s

(http://www.asaurus.org)Asaurus Records

Fuzzy indie with a DIY/folk spin, perfect for summer.

You know that feeling you get in the middle of a long, sizzling summer? You’re lazy and slow-moving like a three-toed sloth conserving his energy, but somehow things still happen. That’s a bit what Patrick Porter’s album A Swan at Smiley’s is like. This makes sense, since Porter wrote and personally recorded all the album’s tracks during the summer of 2007.

A Swan at Smiley’s doesn’t merely capture the essence of summer, however. Porter literally recorded his own personal summer. Included are the sights, feelings and thoughts that Porter experienced. After listening to this album, I almost feel like I was there with him in his apartment in Denver, Colorado, located at the corner of the biggest laudromat in the world – Smiley’s.

The songs themselves are mostly slow-paced, bluesy, lo-fi tunes that invoke a sense of intimacy. But sometimes the DIY goes a little far: the first and last tracks were recorded on a local hotel’s lobby piano. The recordings are overly fuzzy to the point that the song itself can hardly be distinguished. Sure, it’s kitschy and personal, but in my opinion, it’s also unnecessary. The quality of the remaining tracks, however, is significantly better. They don’t sound over-produced, and don’t lose the friendly, private feel.

“Goodbye Teta” and “Schopenhauer Rock” are some of my favorite tracks on the album, although their subject matters are quite different. The former is a breakup song, but feels more realistic and less mushy. It’s actually one of the more up-tempo songs on A Swan at Smiley’s. The bass drum hits and acoustic guitar riffs play off each other to drive the song forward and make it the catchiest on the album. “Schopenhauer Rock” addresses how things could’ve been different if the narrator had been someone or something else. The verses are set up in a simple pattern, but they still get a spiritual and reflective message across.

I can’t wait to listen to this album in the intense summer heat of July in Texas. Sitting in my backyard at high noon, which is stifling even in the shade, will be the best medium for fully enjoying Patrick Porter’s A Swan at Smiley’s. Even though this setting is very different from Porter’s, I still feel that this album will relate to my lazy, hazy, pensive summer.

– Megan Morgan

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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