Curt Porter,
Blues for Beginners
(self-produced, 2003)

This album is deceptive.

Its arrangements creep up on you in spots, and you'd need to use both your fingers and toes to count Curt Porter's influences. What you hear initially isn't where the songs end up, and I don't mean in a simple "speed metal/fooled ya" sort of way. In this respect, it's one of the most consistently clever records I've heard all year. In all others, it's just flat-out engaging and a ton of fun to listen to.

Take the track "Videogames," which starts off with a quickly-played guitar and Porter spinning through the lyrics. Soon after, the vocals layer and go choir on us, a sickly bass line falls into place, and then, for good measure, someone fires up a Super Mario Bros. video game and dots the rest of the song with Nintendo sounds. The tempo launches out of the gate, stops, slows, then kicks you in the back of the head again. This is incredibly fun stuff.

There is a technicality to the proceedings that belies the fun nature of the record; you can't make music this weird and catchy unless you're really good at playing various instruments in the first place. Fortunately, Porter isn't some bedroom Beck; he's got chops for days and can write a mean bit of trolling blues-backed rock. Even when he opts to go a more traditional route with the arrangements (the fairly straight ahead "Dreamy Day" leaps to mind) the music doesn't sound dated or overly reliant on his influences; his is a particularly unique and profoundly entertaining voice.

- Rambles
written by Scott Woods
published 28 February 2004