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Porter Harp & Friends

Reviews for Drinking Season

Reviews for Drinking Season

Pop Culture Press, # 57 Fall/Winter 2003
Luke Torn
This album seemingly begins smack dab in the middle of "Cortez the Killer", which is quite a stunt. The rhythm section crawls, the guitars soar, and you might as well be transported back to the great Neil Young/Crazy Horse tours of the late 70s. The thing is, as derivative as the record may be, Porter Harp has assembled a fairly compelling, writ-large type of sound here, with many songs latching onto a particularly lugubrious groove and just riding it out to glorious effect. Harp, a longtime luminary on the Seattle scene, brings pals from Built to Spill (guitarist Jim Roth) and the Delusions in fashioning the most welcome kind of throwback record - one with plenty of heart and a sense of camaraderie. Best cut: the hypnotic, pedal steel drenched "Papa Said".

Garageradio.com, December 13, 2003
Ben Ohmart
Porter Harp, singer, guitarist and songwriter of Drinking Season, is not in a hurry. His atmospheric electric guitar music may not appeal to the pop princesses of the day, but anyone who was ever influenced by Pink Floyd and the un-ego portions of Oasis will be pleasantly surprised by Drinking Season.

Some call it Americana space music. The important thing is that this sound is not more condiment than hamburger. They aren't relying on the background beat or fuzz or extra mix/instrumentation to carry a drudge of a song over into something memorable. They begin with the melody, as all lasting songs should.

Take the watusi beat of 'Cary' which puts in that double, sort of echoey lead vocal in front of web drums that splash your pants legs. Next comes the country bar sound with 6 and a half minutes of 'Papa Said,' via steel strings and gentle harmonies and plenty of stretched string guitar breaks. Don't forget the rolling, steady drum work like something off of a Dylan basement tape.

This here's pensive man's music, with plenty of pauses (without actually stopping the sound) to give a good thunk at life. Because of that, the CD has the perfect title. You want to get smashed while listening to this, whether you're living a happy life or not. Take a listen to the mp3 now on their site. Grab a bottle. You'll see.

Jersey Beat, # 74 Fall/Winter 2003
As gradual, startling, and inexorable as a lingering late-night thunderstorm; this strikingly austere, moody and harmonic album qualifies as one of the most stunning debuts in recent memory. Porter Harp's strong, haunted vocals sing the intriguingly spare and laconic lyrics with a remarkably fierce and remorseless precision. The arrangements are starkly done for optimal, tightly tuneful and oftentimes downright unsettling impact: cutting crystalline guitar riffs, piercing bass lines, and meaty, trudging drums which produce a steady succession of mesmerizingly slow tempos and heavy clip-clop beats with supremely spooky and atmospheric results. The hypnotically swirling and buzzing melodies hum ominously in a powerfully brooding semi-psychedelic 70's rock-flavored countryish sonic haze. A top-rate outing.

Amplifier, # 38 Sept/Oct 2003
Brian Baker
Porter Harp has enlisted a crack band (including Built to Spill guitarist Jim Roth and Delusions bassist Tim Fekete) to create Drinking Season, a moody and atmospheric set piece that positions flecks of Americana next to waves of proggy psychedelica. The opener, "Don't Ask Them", imagines Jeff Tweedy fronting Crazy Horse on a space rock tribute, while "Papa Said" finds Harp in a Nashville Skyline-era Dylan frame of mind.

The balance of synths, pedal steel, slide guitar and introspective lyrics gives Harp a sound and a stance that draws from a number of contemporary and classic veins, and he does a nice job of arranging and compartmentalizing everything so it doesn't turn into a mushy overloaded mess.

Punk Planet, # 58 Nov/Dec 2003
Laid-back, mellow rock that doesn't escape Barenaked Ladies comparisons. Moments of touching emotional strife mingle with rather barren electric and acoustic guitars. I imagine kids bred on Phish would love this stuff. Still, not bad at all.

Winermitens.com, Fall 2003
Kelly Delaney
"I must admit that with a name like Porter Harp and an album called Drinking Season, my first thoughts about this CD were that I was in for eleven songs about drunken debauchery and filled with alcoholic wisdom. While that stuff is fine for a night spent at a dive bar or a wake, it is not particularly pleasant for regular listening. However, Drinking Season sees past all of that nonsense and comes out a decent piece of music.

The Seattle quartet, led by Mr. Porter Harp himself, blends the sounds of classic rock with the musical legacy of their hometown. The grunge influence is apparent on the first track, "Don't Ask Them." While my initial listen of this track had me thinking Pink Floyd, I could taste some Pearl Jam in the guitars during subsequent listens.

Songs like "Painful" and "Papa Said" are good examples of Harp's ability to convey emotion through musicality without being too melodramatic. The guitars on these tracks are quite beautiful."

Indie Workshop, September 15, 2003
Axel Aguado
Pink Floyd is one of those bands that everyone would like to sound like, but nobody can quite do it. They just have this weird vibe about them, it's completely intangible. Porter Harp is the closest thing I've heard to the legendary band. Drinking Season is what would happen if Pink Floyd had spent a few years dabbling in country.

This is an enjoyable album on many levels. First off, and most importantly, the songs are well-crafted. Porter Harp uses effects the way I believe they are best used: sparingly, only when the song demands an effect. Also, on certain songs, one of the guitarists uses a slide in a way that is really reminiscent of Ry Cooder on the awesome Buena Vista Social Club record. Secondly, the album has a wonderful feel to it: very laid-back and spacey, almost ethereal. I love listening to this type of music when I'm on long road trips. Third, the lyrics are cool as hell: "If you see me coming, you'd better run... when you see me coming, boy, you better get your gun." Man, I love that kind of stuff.

Porter Harp has crafted a nearly flawless album. My only minor complaint is that the songs seem to drag on sometimes, but that is easily ignored. Also, the song doesn't have any truly stand-out tracks, but then again that's not the type of album I believe Mr. Harp was trying to make. The album stands as a whole, as more than the sum of its parts. Nevertheless, those small complaints aside, Drinking Season is great. It makes a nod to its influences, but it's still original and interesting. It's a true pleasure to listen to all the way through.

West Coast Performer, August 2003
Crispin Kott
The name Porter Harp may make you think of a Seattle microbrew, but he is, in fact, an engaging Seattle singer/songwriter/guitarist who has produced one of the finest debut albums of the year. Drowsy guitars and warm, inviting vocals in a classic rock vein are all over Drinking Season. Well-chosen, faithful covers of "Old Man" by Neil Young and "S. Nashville Blues" by Steve Earle set the tone, though Harp's original compositions stand up well in context. Drinking Season begins with the windswept "Don't Ask Them," a shimmering, mid-tempo rocker, and never lets up from there. Whether fully rocking, as on "I Wish You Well," or laying back in the slow-rolling beauty of "Painful," Porter Harp and his band never miss a step. Harp's group is composed of various indie rock all-stars from bands like Built to Spill and the Delusions, though they sound like they've been playing as one for a long time. The band gels as a whole, and Ann Marie Ruljancich's gorgeous backing vocals are the perfect accompaniment to Harp's own tender style. With any luck, the success of Drinking Season will keep Harp's friends on board as more than just guest musicians. Considerable credit should go to producer Phil Ek (Modest Mouse, Built to Spill) for giving Drinking Season a lush, organic sound that lends itself well to the music. Every pedal steel lick runs up and down your spine, and that is thanks in part to Ek's clear understanding of what makes music like this so classic. The album's cover portrait of an old pick-up truck rolling down a highway with dark skies looming overhead is the perfect artistic rendition of the music found inside. Porter Harp should be more than a guilty pleasure for indie rock kids and frat boys alike. He should be massive.

Seattle Times, June 20, 2003
Tom Scanlon
...Also on the bill at the Long Winters Crocodile show: Porter Harp, a singer-songwriter with a strong debut called "Drinking Season." Produced by Phil Ek (Modest Mouse, Built to Spill), Harp's album is a moody, twangy delight...

Belltown Paper, April 2003
Matt Johnson
...excellent drinking-in-the-backyard-with-a-couple-of-your-dumbass-friends music, at summer's end. Porter's a guy who needs comforting, but from a couple of shots and a game of pool - not from a hug...these are well crafted songs...makes for damn good listening.

Cincinnati's City Beat Weekly, June 25, 2003
John M. James
...hazy melodic Pop from this Seattle singer/songwriter [Porter Harp] with guitarist Jim Roth of Built To Spill.

KOUG FM, June 2003
Daniel Cascaddan, Student Manager
I am listening to "Drinking Season" and I must say, from the first track this CD stands out as the best thing I have heard this week, and even though I am only about half way through the two dozen or so CDs we got yesterday (the station only gets mail delivery from campus mail once a week), I will be very surprised if I hear anything better!

Mundanesounds.com, July 2003
Joseph Kyle
...Porter Harp is a man who has taken his love of bands such as Modest Mouse and Built to Spill, and doesn't really hide that fact on his debut album, "Drinking Season."