Reviews:: Portico Progeny Blues

For those of you not from Vancouver, knowing that Portico practices in a tiny space on the downtown East side of Vancouver is probably irrelevant. On the surface, people think of Vancouver and thoughts of the Rockies and tranquil sunsets reflecting late day sun over the Pacific and that we are bubbling over with hippies and environmental activists.

And to be fair, to a certain extent we are, but in reality the city is gritty and laced with drug abusers and the homeless. Poverty is a huge problem and slowly over time, the downtrodden have been pushed farther and farther away from the public eye. The greenery that once ran throughout the city is being swallowed up by condos and new developments and instead of funding for social programs, we are building Olympic speed skating ovals.

But this isn't meant to be a rant. The city still holds onto its hidden beauty that can be found on a random street corner or the cherry blossoms that float down to the ground in the core of Vancouver, but the one area that holds true to everything great about Vancouver is the downtown East Side. Old buildings and history make the East Side rich in culture, and every time I listen to Portico I'm reminded of that.

Their latest record is full of big distorted guitars and honest, pain filled lyrics and these are the backbone of the songs and the beauty that peeks through the cracks. Obviously, the jump off point is the voice of lead singer Lyn Heinemann. She's got the perfect mix of power and sensitivity of 90's rock like Kim Deal or Liz Phair, but the fact the rhythm section of the band is tighter than a hipsters pants is crucial to the success of the record.

Greg Murray and Mimi Mahovlich use crisp drum lines and infectious bass lines to frame the songs, which allows Lyn to blow out her guitars and unleash her voice when needed. Crime Scene starts with Lyn singing over a simple guitar jangle, but the song really comes to live when the drums and bass kick in. The slow groove is as warming as a summer day, but track has a rough edge especially when the distorted keys show up. This song is the musical equivalent of a Fred Herzog photo; you see the subject in an honest light and that makes you look closer and soak in the details.

Progeny Blues really grows on you well. I've been listening to the few tracks I had downloaded regularly for a month or so, but the full album is a complete package. Hearing Lyn sing about being a disappointment to her father on All Your Daughters is strangely beautiful (which is only enhanced by the choral vocals and the chaotic noise filled outro). Sincerely again starts with a quick strummed electric riff, but the machine gun drumming really drives the song and lets Lyn explore minor tones and static. The horn section completes this song and makes it one you just repeat over and over again.

The nice thing is, the record can be enjoyed by almost anyone. The guitar lines are great, the songs flow nicely and the energy is kept up for the whole record. High Walls is as catchy a song as I've heard in months and the minor, dream like sounds of It's Not Over Yet, Rochelle reminds me of the great Jade Tree sounds of the mid nineties. The songs are not your typical beautiful flowing anthems, but they catch your attention. This record is a great representation of the city I live in, but one that stands on it's own regardless of setting.

MP3:: Crime Scene
Check out Portico at the Copperspine records showcase (that will hopefully feature Roger Dean Young as well) on Jan. 24th @ the Media Club or opening for The Feminists CD release party on Feb 9th/08 @ the Railway.

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@ 4:35 PM, Anonymous VancouverIAM Team kicked the following game:

Congratulations! has chosen this blog article as one of the top articles in Vancouver for December 20, 2007. The VancouverIAM Daily Blog Review can be found on and


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