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Porter Block

Suburban Sprawl

(Engine Room; US: 23 Jan 2007; UK: Available as import)

Porter Block is the pride of Peter Block and Caleb Sherman. And these two can craft some well-rounded and refined pop songs in the vein of Crowded House or XTC during their Apple Venus period. But a song like “Wonder About Me” definitely has a roots-based feeling to it. Porter Block also show their earnest side during “Worrying Me”, another acoustic-driven song that has ample amounts of gorgeous melody. The group rarely gets out of this format, opting for laidback over edgy with a track called “Safe and Warm” that would give Jack Johnson a run for his money. However, the album is so mired in this realm that it almost lulls one to sleep, as is the case with the pretty “Circles”, which never deviates from the norm of this record. The first track with more than a soft pop beat is the slow-building “Underneath”, which is perhaps the tune that rocks out, but even then that’s not saying a hell of a lot on this album. Lowlights? Well, “South Beach Drive” is a waste of two minutes, basically, but it’s quickly atoned for with the pleasing “Blackberry Girl”.

Rating:

Originally from Cape Breton, MacNeil is currently writing for the Toronto Sun as well as other publications, including All Music Guide, Billboard.com, NME.com, Country Standard Time, Skope Magazine, Chart Magazine, Glide, Ft. Myers Magazine and Celtic Heritage. A graduate of the University of King's College, MacNeil currently resides in Toronto. He has interviewed hundreds of acts ranging from Metallica and AC/DC to Daniel Lanois and Smokey Robinson. MacNeil (modestly referred to as King J to friends), a diehard Philadelphia Flyers fan, has seen the Rolling Stones in a club setting, thereby knowing he will rest in peace at some point down the road. Oh, and he writes for PopMatters.com.


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