Wednesday, June 15, 2005

It's a sad status quotient

The Pernice Brothers - Discover a Lovelier You
Essential: Joe Pernice

Pernice Brothers - Discover a Lovelier You
With their 4th full length release, 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 Pernice
Joe Pernice (Pernice Brothers)
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.)

Pernice Brothers - World Won't End
This lineup worked so well they stuck together, along with Joe's brother Bob, for the next and best release from 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.'

Favorite lyrics:
Contemplating suicide or a graduate degree
- "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"
Joe also recently entertained us all with "Indie Rock Cribs," video piece on his site that mocks MTV's cribs.

Previous Essential:
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.

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7 comments:

drake leLane said...

Essential: Joe Pernice

* "Working Girls (Sunlight Shines)" - Pernice Brothers
* "Crestfallen" - Pernice Brothers
* "There Goes the Sun" - Pernice Brothers
* "The Weakest Shade Of Blue" - Pernice Brothers
* "Bum Leg" - Joe Pernice
* "Courage Up" - Chappaquiddick Skyline
* "Overcome By Happiness" - Pernice Brothers
* "Freight Of Fire" - Scud Mountain Boys
* "Saddest Quo" - Pernice Brothers
* "Flaming Wreck" - Pernice Brothers
* "Baby In Two" - Pernice Brothers
* "In A Ditch" - Scud Mountain Boys
* "Monkey Suit" - Pernice Brothers
* "My So-Called Celibate Life" - Pernice Brothers
* "Everyone Else Is Evolving" - Chappaquiddick Skyline
* "7:30" - Pernice Brothers
* "Prince Valium" - Joe Pernice
* "One Foot In The Grave" - Pernice Brothers
* "Clear Spot" - Pernice Brothers

J Shifty said...

Thanks for another lucid, well-researched overview, Drake. Nothing for a Scud Mountain Boys fan to cry about in there at all, I'd say.

drake leLane said...

This essential series I find the most hard... whittling a great artists catalogue to below 80 minutes has been tough. I've been sitting on some of these for months now, listening once a week and taking two tracks out and putting in another.

I'm a long playlist junkie... it's nice that you like the shorter ones, the ying to my yang perhaps.

Anonymous said...

these arent tht sad btw

drake lelane said...

The "sad" in the title refers to a lyric from the song "Saddest Quo."

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