Essential: Joe Pernice
Discover a Lovelier You, The Pernice Brothers continue to hit their sweet-spot: butter-sweet vocals from Joe Pernice, smart, heartfelt lyrics, and sophisticated arrangements and production. There's a few surprises, like some new wave synth sounds ("There Goes the Sun",) and even a song that seems to pay direct homage to New Order ("My So-Called Celibate Life".) But all in all, it's what you expect, that is to say near-perfect guitar pop.
Joe Pernice has a fascinating library of songs he's put out so far, and I've compiled an essential playlist that hopefully encapsulates his history. I'm sure Scud Mountain Boy fans will cry foul that I've only included two tracks, but I suggest to folks that they check out that band in and of itself, as they're different beasts entirely.
Joe was born in Boston, MA, from an Italian immigrant family. He originally formed Pernice Brothers in 1985 with his brother Bob, but only recorded demos at the time and ended up in North Hampton for college, where he started a band called The Scuds (after the Russian Gulf war missilles that Iraq used in 1991.) After their sound began to take on a more country edge, they changed the name to The Scud Mountain Boys and recorded their first album, Pine Box, on the Swedish label Chunk in 1995. They then moved on to SubPop and released their masterpiece Massachusetts. Pernice broke up the band, feeling trapped by the alt-country tag and reformed Pernice Brothers, releasing Overcome by Happiness in 1998 (SubPop) which more reflected Pernice's love for anglo-classic-pop. Joe had some songs that he'd intended for Scud Mountain Boys left over after the break up, so he recorded them as his solo debut, Big Tobacco, released in 2000. Following the Pernice Brothers' tour in support of Overcome by Happiness, Pernice used the tour lineup to record another album, this time under the moniker of Chappaquiddick Skyline (Chappaquiddick Skyline, 2000,) which was a indie-rock supergroup of minor proportions: bassist Thom Monahan (Monsterland,) guitarist Peyton Pinkerton (New Radiant Storm King,) keyboardist Laura Stein (Jale) and drummer Mike Belitsky (Jale, The Sadies.)
Joe Pernice (Pernice Brothers)
Joe Pernice (Pernice Brothers)
World Won't End. Released in 2001 to a chorus of cheer and acclaim, the album was released on Joe's new label, Ashmont, he formed after an acrimonious split with SubPop. Not as orchestrated, but not as sparse as Chappaquiddick Skyline, World Won't End was an album chock full of pop goodness, with songs leaving you humming along years after hearing.
Pernice Brothers followed with another strong album, Yours Mine & Ours (2003,) that saw them strip the sound down a bit, and play more uptempo on a few tracks. Joe Pernice also recently wrote a song in honor of the Boston Red Sox finally winning the World Series ("Moonshot Manny",) which also ended up on the soundtrack to Fever Pitch. It's in Rhapsody as well and worth a listen... I didn't include it as it's truly not 'essential.'
Contemplating suicide or a graduate degreeJoe also recently entertained us all with "Indie Rock Cribs," video piece on his site that mocks MTV's cribs.
- "Working Girls (Sunlight Shines)"
I got this scar above my eye from a dirty little shit who tried to love me underneath the bridge
- "Bum Leg"
I'd be the King if I could say to you / Cut the baby in two
- "Baby in Two"
Essential: Lifter Puller
Essential: In theory, Essentials are the best by an artist/group with the sum total of the tracks fitting neatly on an 80-minute CD.
tag: music, playlist, Joe Pernice, Pernice Brothers