Astrophagus threw in the towel last year, with very little fanfare. So when we heard Jason and Josh Cain were going to be coming back with a new project called Port Au Prince, we were a little skeptical of what to expect. The time is finally here to listen to what they've been up to with the release of the Hollow Bones EP, and we must say, we are certainly surprised.
First and foremost, Port Au Prince isn't just the Cain brothers; also added to the band are bassist Tyler Campo, guitarist Brian Gerhard and drummer Hunter Dragon. Actually, it's Hunter Dragon that causes the big sonic departure here. Where Jason Cain led Astrophagus in most respects, from songwriting to singing, he actually hands over those duties to the band this time around, including the singing, which Dragon handles on the EP's title track.
The sound, as a whole, is completely different from what we'd expect from these folks. There's more resemblance to Campo's Cowboy Curse than Astrophagus in tracks like "Jesus Kathleen," a Colorado-cana track that would be at home on a Townes Van Zandt record. In fact, there's little in common with Astrophagus at all here, which might explain their reasoning for killing the band better than words ever could.
To put it bluntly, this is already a better band than Astrophagus ever was. It's bigger-sounding, less brooding, and the band seems like it's having more fun. It toys with harmonies, with instruments and, most important, with the basic songwriting. You don't know what to expect with the next track, but when you get there, it's a welcome change of pace, not a rattling confusion.
Listen for yourself below; the songs are posted on Bandcamp as a pay-what-you-want download.