Port O’Brien

WATERS – Out In The Light [Album Review]

by oz on October 31, 2011

WATERS is the band that emerged after Port O’Brien dissolved. Founding POB front man Van Pierszalowski fled the States for Oslo, Norway after the breakup before continuing his travels to Alaska where he’d spent time working with his father, a commercial fisherman. Then off to his hometown in Northern California, over to Brooklyn, then back to Oslo to put a band together and form WATERS.

Port O’Brien was a band near to my heart after discovering them shortly after I moved to the Bay area in 2007. I saw them in four different cities, had a few pints with them in Boston, and became a close enough acquaintances to garner a bear hug from Van every time we crossed paths – although I don’t think he’s stingy with his hugs. Needless to say, I was devastated to hear that Port O’Brien broke up and I became extremely nervous to see Van’s new band name in all capital letters. A band name in all caps? I was picturing neon colors, LOTS of synthesizer sounds and the word “experimental” in the genre description.

Out In The Light turned out to be better than any Port O’Brien record.  According to Van, “The record is about waking up. It is about getting out of a situation that seems endless, and realizing you’re not too old to make dramatic and sudden changes in your life. It is about starting over.” It’s also about unleashing something more bold, loud and complete than anything he’s released before.

Out In The Light makes a statement with the fuzzy “For The One.” The familiar sound of the acoustic was set aside for brash guitars, clashing drums and harsh vocals that put your speakers to the test. “O Holy Break Of Day” is the signature tune on the album, balancing tempo changes, heavy handed guitar solos and poignant lyrics:

feeling reckless but there’s a light at the edge of my room
i never imagined i could be a free man this soon
take my warnings just to find my way back through
home isn’t waiting oh lord i am overdue

oh i can’t believe this all was for free
i dreamed the fucker right out of me
i can’t believe i took it for granted
o holy break of day

feeling weezy but there’s a way i can’t let it go
hold my hand softly if you hold my hand at all
never imagined i could be a free man this soon
wade through water, there’s a light at the edge of my room

The album lightens up on songs like “Out In The Light,” the acoustic ballad, “Ones You Had Before,” and the liberating anthem “If I Run.” The closer, “Mickey Mantle,” is the clincher. It’s a beautifully crafted solo acoustic number with light keys, late blooming percussion and female vocal harmonies. Van’s songwriting is showcased again:

never thoguht to light a candle
never thought i’d have to gamble
I was feeling micky mantle wasted

driving up the 1 and frantic
turning into an old romantic
I was sleeping n the attic waiting

can’t nobody ever see
don’t make a mess of me
i ain’t to old to give a shit

i could turn a train around
i could take your country down
i aint’ too young to regret

forever, forever, forever
i ain’t too young

The song will resonate even more with you if you’ve been belittled by Mickey Mantle after asking for an autograph. But enough of my emotional scars.

My hat goes off to Van Pierszalowski. WATERS is a triumph and one of the year’s best albums.

WATERS – For The One

WATERS – O Holy Break Of Day


Port O’Brien broke up last year and singer/songwriter Van Pierszalowski took a long break from music, living in Oslo, Norway and then traveling to Alaska, California and Brooklyn. He’s about to reemerge with a solo project under the moniker WATERS. It’s fuzzy and loud and the debut album, Out In The Light, will be released on 9/20 via TBD Records. Here a taste of Van’s new sound in “For The One.”

WATERS – For The One


For anyone that’s been reading for the past several years, you know that Port O’Brien is one of my favorite bands. Threadbare was one of our favorite albums from 2009 and POB just released one of the sleeper singles on the album, “Leap Year.” If you’ve ignored them in the past, I highly recommend digging into their three albums and catch a live show.

Video: Port O’Brien – Leap Year

Tracks from our live session with Port O’Brien:

Port O’Brien Intro Song

Exclusive: Port O’Brien – Sour Milk/ Salt Water (Video)

Exclusive: Port O’Brien – My Will Is Good (Video)

Exclusive: Port O’Brien – Oslo Campfire

Exclusive: Port O’Brien – In The Meantime

Download the Port O’Brien live session as a zip.


Woody and I are both huge fans of Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch and were extremely saddened by the news that Captain of the Cornelia Marie, Phil Harris, passed away at age 53. He leaves behind two sons. There was an obvious song choice to use as a tribute.

From his kids, Jake and Josh:

It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to our dad – Captain Phil Harris. Dad has always been a fighter and continued to be until the end. For us and the crew, he was someone who never backed down. We will remember and celebrate that strength. Thanks to everyone for their thoughts and prayers.

From Discovery Channel:

Discovery mourns the loss of dear friend and colleague Captain Phil Harris. He was more than someone on our television screen. Phil was a devoted father and loyal friend to all who knew him. We will miss his straightforward honesty, wicked sense of humor and enormous heart. We share our tremendous sadness over this loss with the millions of viewers who followed Phil’s every move. We send our thoughts and prayers to Phil’s sons Josh and Jake and the Cornelia Marie crew.

From Port O’Brien:

Port O’Brien – Fisherman’s Son


Port O’Brien, Live Session #60

November 17, 2009

There are certain bands that I associate with HearYa more than others. Bands like Ha Ha Tonka, Other Lives and Joe Pug are a few that blend great musicianship with amiable personalities. Port O’Brien is another of those bands and over the course of three albums and countless shows, Port O’Brien has never ceased to […]

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Port O’Brien – Threadbare [Album Review]

October 12, 2009

Port O’Brien have been one of my top five favorite bands for the past three years. Each album they release far exceeds my expectations and slowly becomes an addiction. I’ve seen them in San Francisco, Austin and once in Boston where I had the opportunity to chat with lead singer Van Pierszalowski over a pint. […]

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Port O’Brien releases new video for My Will Is Good [New Video]

October 3, 2009

We just finished up a great live session with Port O’Brien, featuring several tracks from their about to be released new album, Threadbare. I haven’t finished writing it up yet, but it’s one of those at the top of my list for 2009. Here’s the video for “My Will Is Good.” Here are the Threadbare […]

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Port O’Brien releases another new track, My Will Is Good [new mp3]

August 11, 2009

Port O’Brien just premiered another new track (via Stereogum) called “My Will Is Good.” The album entitled Threadbare will be released on October 6th. What strikes me about this album, in addition to Cambria Goodwin taking on more vocal duties, is the change in Van Pierszalowski’s vocals on most tracks. His delivery is less forced […]

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Port O’Brien – Sour Milk/Salt Water never tasted so good. [new mp3]

August 7, 2009

Port O’Brien is releasing a new album called Threadbare on October 6 via TBD records. I’ve been wanting to write up a proper review, but fellow HearYan, Woody, tells me it’s too early. I’ll time a proper writeup closer to the release date, but let’s just say I absolutely love this record. We got early […]

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Port O’Brien signs to TBD Records, Announce Fall Tour [News]

August 3, 2009

TBD Records, home of HearYa favorites Other Lives and White Rabbits, just snapped up another favorite in Port O’Brien. Their new album entitled Threadbare comes out 10/6 and their fall tour dates are below. We’ve been huge fans of Port O’Brien for quite some time and this is like watching my son Teddy head off […]

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