PORCUPINE: What You’ve Heard Isn’t Real: 12” EP

Purely by happenstance, I’m listening to this on the twenty-fifth anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death. I mention this not because he had anything to do with this album, or that there’s any overt influence on the songs contained herein, but rather because this very much sounds reminiscent of that last era when the underground poked its head above water. It felt like rock music was more than a disposable distraction and “alternative” was something that at least felt like it was more than just another marketing niche. The songs here are smart and impeccably crafted, with lots of noodly guitar lines that alternate between fragile and muscley, a rock-solid rhythm section, and, at times, have the feel of a more cerebral, Midwestern Teenage Fanclub. There’s also a gorgeous cover of “Standing by the Sea,” originally by current bassist Greg Norton’s old band, Hüsker Dü, that had me cranking it up, closing my eyes, and enjoying the feeling of it washing over me like I did when I first heard the original in a Spokane basement in 1984. Beautiful, catchy, and spot-on from start to finish. –Jimmy Alvarado (Dead Broke)