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Porcupine pricks the ear
with prog, pop and alt-rock

Porcupine - The Trouble With You
(Blue Worm Records)
3 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Sept. 7, 2009

Review by Tony Bonyata

While the LaCrosse, WI-based rock trio Porcupine may not be making the waves stirred by their local Northern Wisconsin contemporaries Bon Iver and The Daredeveil Christopher Wright, on their debut full-length The Trouble With You the threesome have, without a doubt, created one of the most unique, if not schizophrenic albums to come out of the Badger State in some time.

Led by guitarist and singer/songwriter Casey Virock, along with basist Dave Reinders and Jeff Bahr, Porcupine weaves an intricately woven tapestry of -90s alternative, hard rock, Midwestern power pop, along with the ecentricites of -70s prog and math-rock. Songs such as the geometrical "Exit 180" is driven by a repetitive Robert Fripp-like guitar riff yet still retains the rock edge from early -90s alt-rock, even including a slice of Red Hot Chili Peppers-flavored metal-funk near the song's close. "Picture Pefect" twists and turns with surprising time changes, while "Dark Mood" melds a heavier rock aesthetic with strong pop sensibilities. And on the punchy King Crimson-meets-Cheap Trick rocker "So Far So Good" Virock's vocals are hauntingly reminiscent of a more subdued Ozzy Osbourne from his early days with Black Sabbath (which, in this case, is actually a good thing).

While this may be their debut outing the members of the band are no newcomers to the music industry. Virock played in a number of Midwestern bands, most notably Space Bike from 1994 to '98. Before joining Virock in Space Bike, Reinders also performed with a band called Junk Farm, as well as running his own recording studio in a local LaCrosse club. Bahr cut his teeth with the Minneapolis-based rock outfit Remover, along with a slew of other lesser-known Midwestern bands. So with their collective music histories it's little wonder that their first effort as Porcupine sounds so fully realized... and refreshing.

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