Porter Block is a duo who make music that’s melodic, hooky as hell, smart, well-crafted, sometimes sad, always thoughtful; in a nutshell, what many would call “power pop.” Songs that are built to last. Said keyboardist Larry Goldings (James Taylor, John Mayer, John Legend) of a recent Porter Block session: “They brought back a sensibility that one associates with the greatest of the 70s writers.”
Formed in 2005 by the New York-based Peter Block and Caleb Sherman, Peter explains the group’s underlying ideology: “It always comes down to being honest about the writing. If one can’t sit down and play and sing the song simply, then it’s not ready to be recorded.” Regarding his colleague, Peter is effusive, “I actually met Caleb about 15 years ago. I really can’t think of another musician who naturally absorbs and produces music with such ease. He can play just about any instrument you can name. His production sensibility was really an old-school approach. He understood very well that I wanted to make human-sounding records, so we just clicked.”
To date, Porter Block has made one EP and six studio albums. Frequently augmented by a revolving cast of crack players, 2010’s Peter Block release notably featured cowrites with Mike Viola (who also produced), Tracy Bonham, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Slow Runner’s Michael Flynn, and They Might Be Giants’ Dan Miller. As noted by the Daily News in Pittsburgh: “Power pop doesn't get much better than this, folks.” Prior to the release of Peter Block, Peter and Caleb were on the road with Mike Doughty, The Samples, Deep Blue Something, and the aforementioned Viola.
2016’s Hard To See Beautiful was recorded digitally in Nashville (where Caleb has relocated) and analog in Los Angeles, by Sheldon Gomberg (Ben Harper, Warpaint, Joseph Arthur) and return collaborator Mike Viola (Ryan Adams, Rachael Yamagata, Matt Nathanson). Using the two formats allowed for maximum flexibility in capturing the sound and feel the group was after. Guitars were handled by Peter, Caleb, Mike, Steven Elliot (Dawes, Norah Jones) and Terry Radigan; the keys were split between Peter, Caleb and the aforementioned Larry Goldings. Drum chores were shared by Brandon Barnes and longtime Elvis Costello compadre, Pete Thomas. Bass came courtesy of Caleb and another Costello bandmate, Davey Faragher.
Summer 2017 is set to bring forth a lot of firsts for Peter and Caleb. July 14th will bring the release of Primer, the band’s first-ever compilation, not only featuring 12 handpicked songs from the Porter Block catalog, plus two previously-unreleased recordings, “Always Right” and “So Mean.” Touring in support of Primer — the group’s first dates since 2016’s live shows alongside Lucy Woodward and Tim Easton — begins on July 20th in Westbury, New York. The duo are also currently hard at work launching In A State, an innovative podcast which will feature exclusive conversations with prominent musicians and top entertainment industry veterans. In A State is also in discussions to present live events, as tied in with the non-profit Music and Medicine program at Weill Cornell Medical College, which Peter co-founded.
Lines West (Duo)
Stop Look and Listen, the first full-length from Bridgeport, Connecticut’s Lines West. Compared to Wilco and Big Star, Lines West feature a wide range of American rock traditions. Lines West is a four-piece group co-fronted by John Radzin on guitar and vocals and Brian Larney on keyboard, guitar, and vocals. Radzin and Larney formed Lines West in May 2013. Stop Look and Listen was co-produced by Radzin and Larney (under their production moniker JAYBEE).
Fueled by the songwriting tandem of Radzin and Larney, Stop Look and Listen is a unique blast of rootsy pop/rock described by Review Stalker as as "perfectly crafted pop songs that should be all over terrestrial radio at the very least".
Radzin was born in Wisconsin, where he learned to camp, build fires, and wear cowboy boots. Long car rides across the prairie were spent singing harmonies with his mother, brother and sisters, and once he picked up a guitar, he never looked back. After formally studying music at the University of Wisconsin, Radzin spent two years in London, absorbing what he could of that music scene before departing for Los Angeles. He spent eight years in Los Angeles, working as an engineer with artists as diverse as Slash and Neil Diamond. Radzin left the studio world to front L.A. heavy-pop trio (and KCRW favorite) Magnified before moving to Connecticut.
Larney also brings to Lines West a wealth of music industry experience. Larney released his second solo record, Jupiter With You, on July 22nd. His debut solo album, At the Starting Line, was recorded at famed studio SUMA Recording in Ohio and was produced by Grammy-nominated David Mayfield in the winter of 2013. At the Starting Line earned Larney rave reviews from fans and critics alike: "Larney’s charisma and voice are distinctive enough to pull off anything he wants to do." (Wildy Haskell, Wildy's World)