Tall Tales and Misadventures
When an album begins with a country song about getting arrested for growing marijuana, you know you’re dealing with some Iowa boys who’ve been around the block. These guys have been playing together for 15 years, and on this album, you can hear all those years–they’ll stay in the pocket no matter how much they’ve had to drink or smoke. Porch Builder plays the sort of timeless bluesy boogie that seems to be second to people around these parts. The originality comes not from novel melodies or chord progressions, because they don’t really bother trying to innovate. They’re distinctive for the atmosphere and vibe they create. Porch Builder is the sort of band you’d start listening to with no expectations at all only to get sucked in to their no-nonsense blue collar sense of fun.
My favorite tracks on the album are the instrumentals “Fried Chicken” and “1,2,3,4.” The former recalls the Memphis blues funk of Booker T. & the MGs, and the latter is the sort of country jump Roy Clark used to cut loose with in the last 10 minutes of “Hee Haw.” “Ain’t Too Drunk To Drive” is their unplugged country blues dedicated to intoxication and beater vehicles. You can almost smell the blue exhaust smoke in their wake. The only false step on this album comes with “Sandwich De Pavo” which is marred by vocals delivered in the kind of bad Mexican accent Iowa boys learn from Cheech & Chong records. Much better pitched is the murder ballad “Kyle Wasson’s Last Ride” about the infamous police shooting of a North Liberty man. Porch Builder is music made by and for Iowa shit-kickers, and is perfect for a hot day on a sagging wood porch.