Portage & Main (Independent)
It’s no false notion that musicians are chick magnets. Give a girl a man with a voice and a guitar and she’ll swoon. Give her one that has no idea how talented he is and she’ll swoon harder. Such is the case with the boys in Vancouver’s own Portage and Main, a five-piece country-folk group of singing studs with talent and humility.
The band’s self-titled debut album is an unpretentious exploration of western-style songwriting, kicking off with the slow but triumphant “Nothing (Take What You Need)”, a four-minute ballad carried by the harmonizing vocals and melodic but twangy guitars of John Sponarski and Harold Donnelly.
Songs like “The Morning After” and “I’m Going Down Tonight” showcase the boys’ classic country sensibilities, with swaggering rhythms kept by drummer Ben Brown and bassist Mike Agranovich. Rounded out by Georges Couling’s punctuating keyboards, the 12-track album serves up Americana glory.
Not every tune on the disc is nostalgic for old-time country, though. “What Have I Done” is a partially poppy jam reminiscent of mid-’90s footnotes like the Counting Crows or Gin Blossoms. “Follow Me My Love” is more of the same, a catchy tune that exchanges the acoustic guitar for electric, while the folksy “I’d Never Climbed a Mountain” begs to be sung along to. The record ends with the standout “Carolina”, a song that teeters between wild shoegaze sounds and big band.
Given the economic climate, the boys’ guitar cases might be filled with phone numbers rather than good ol’ Canadian loonies if they ever decided to go out busking, which, depending on your point of view, might make them all the richer.