The new album from Porcupine, What You've Heard Isn't Real, is a blast. The power-trio -- Casey Virock (guitars, vocals), Greg Norton (bass, guitars, vocals), and Ian Prince (drums) -- manages to crank out music that should satisfy both post-rock fans, and those of us who admittedly were drawn to this band due to the presence of the Husker Du bassist. What You've Heard Isn't Real is out on vinyl from Dead Broke Records, and on CD and digital from DC-Jam Records and it's overflowing with punchy punk and melodic rave-ups.
Opener "Lifetime" churns with the sort of alt-rock tunefulness one expects from most Foo Fighters or Killers releases, while the bouncier-and-catchier "Distraction" bears the faintest trace of the band whose (best) album gave this trio its name, Virock positively purring the vocals here. Elsewhere, "Pull" is the friendlier cousin to early Queens of the Stone Age offerings, Norton's bass a veritable Pogo-stick atop the supple melody, while the effervescent "Tell Me" allows Ian Prince to shine on the kit, the pounds here loud punctuation marks between the hooks. At their very best, Porcupine manage to harness a few other disparate influences in the service of accessible, and yet fiery, alt-pop.
Still, there's no denying the presence of the legendary Greg Norton on this one, and for me to pretend as if he doesn't bring some significant firepower to this trio is to do potential listeners of What You've Heard Isn't Real a disservice. Now, that's no knock on the talents of Prince and Virock but, rather, an indication that Norton sounds as if he is at home next to these two. No one is going to mistake a cover of Du's "Standing By The Sea" here on What You've Heard Isn't Real for the real thing, but that it works so darn well is a bit surprising. The old Grant Hart (RIP) composition is durable and cathartic, even as Porcupine here have seemingly been able to find its more traditional, though still ferocious, heart, the classic now nearly rendered an album rock standard. And for those of us who grew up tethered to the big riffs of Husker Du songs, I think you'll understand why I loved this so much, the raw energy of punk wrapped up here in a big alt-pop package. I dig this.
[Photo: Dan Corrigan]