When Van Pierszalowski's old band, Port O'Brien, played "I Woke Up Today,” audience members would join the band onstage beating pots and pans, singing along in a unified cacophony. As the definitive track for that project (the song appeared on at least three releases that I know of), "I Woke Up Today" was a riotous celebration with Van as ringleader. In the time since Port O’Brien came to an end, Van traveled the world from Oakland to Oslo, Brooklyn to Alaska (where he works summers with his father on a commercial fishing boat), and then again to Oslo. And in that time, his music moved from Neil Young-indebted singalongs to the raw, internal fuzz of
. First single, "For the One," could be seen as a rejection of "I Woke Up Today"'s optimism. Rather than communal catharsis, Van's focus is on himself as he “turns his back on ‘em all.” The sound is raw and loud, and the fidelity is low; you won’t be rushing the stage with kitchen utensils this time. Neil Young’s influence still hovers here, but now Kurt Cobain seems as much a guiding force as Young. For Van Pierszalowski, WATERS is mostly uncharted territory—lonelier, louder, and more personal than what came before.
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