Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

How Can I Compare?

The knock against every new Pernice Brothers record, however well-reviewed, is probably that it sounds an awful lot like its predecessor. This is not untrue – Joe has certainly settled into a certain musical comfort zone and his style is unmistakeable, but it’s also a little unfair as it implies that if you’ve got one Pernice Brothers record, you probably don’t need to hear any of the others. What this criticism fails to address is the fact that a Pernice Brothers record isn’t about the sound but about the songs.

Their latest record Live A Little does indeed sound a good deal like last year’s Discover A Lovelier You, but there’s a reason that I’ve probably already listened to the new one more in the past three weeks than I have the last one in the past year – the songs are just better. The melodies more memorable and the lyricism sharper, but still gloriously bummed out. You can simply hear the twinkle in Joe’s eye as you listen to his wordplay on highlights like “Conscience Clean” or “Somerville” and it’s good to have it back.

But as good as the official release is, I found some of the most interesting listening to be on the bonus disc that came with preorders – while most of the disc are demos that mainly feature Joe with acoustic guitar and drum machine, singing the vocal melodies sans lyrics (interesting but not essential), the first six songs are alternate version outtakes from the record and some feature drastically different arrangements from the final products. In particular, the outtakes of “Conscience Clean” and “Microscopic View” feature not the electrified rock that defines the recent records but the orchestral folk pop of the earliest (and most beloved) records. Hearing these, you can’t help but wonder if Joe was at one point considering a stronger shift in sound than he eventually settled on? The new version of the Scud Mountain Boys’ “Grudge Fuck” that closes Live A Little certainly shows he’s not adverse to looking back. So while it certainly doesn’t diminish my enjoyment of the new album, hearing hints of what might have been certainly gets the imagination working… maybe the next one.

The tour to promote the new record is conspicuous by its Americanism – perhaps the visa issues alluded to here discouraged them from crossing the border? Though if that’s the case, Joe will still have to come home sometime… maybe a solo show is in order? The last one went quite well. Pernice recently gave Harp a guided tour of his Toronto home and no, I didn’t try to figure out where he lived from the photos. Much.

You still have to sign up to the Pernice Brothers mailing list to get the MP3 and video for “Somerville” but it’s worth your time. Otherwise, you can stream the whole of the album below.

Stream: Pernice Brothers / Live A Little (Flash)

From Clicky Click – the House Of Love‘s double-disc Complete John Peel Sessions comp came out on Monday, and I’m torn on this – on one hand, I already have all of disc one on the now-deleted John Peel Sessions 1988-1989 collection, but it’s also one of the best House Of Love recordings in existance (says me) so I really would like to hear the second disc… And also, the House Of Love fansite has confirmed from Terry Bickers that the band is, in fact, still together and working on new material. Sweet.

British Sea Power, who will be camped out in Montreal next month recording their third album, have booked a show at Lee’s Palace for November 15 in order to stretch their legs and preview the new material. Tickets are $12.50 in advance, Heroes & Villains open. Also noteworthy – The Coast will be playing a CD re-release party (?) at the new Ukula store at College and Bathurst on November 9 at 10PM. Haven’t been in the store but I did see a friendly-looking dog through the window the other day, that’s a plus. Pity their website is still a disaster area. Via For The Records.

Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers has been keeping a blog at Gibson Guitars while on tour. Thankfully, it’s not actually about his guitars. “Had the strings on my Les Paul changed. Dropped a pick. Found it again. Whew.” Via Nine Bullets.

I Heart Music, nattily redesigned, has an interview with Zach Rogue of Rogue Wave.

np – Norfolk & Western / The Unsung Colony

By : Frank Yang at 8:48 am
Category: Uncategorized
RSS Feed for this postNo Responses.
  1. brads says:

    Yeah, I momentarily hesitated before ordering that new HoL Peel Sessions disc, but I couldn’t stop myself. Totally agree on the quality of that original release.

    (and it was a bit cheaper over at, by the way, although they won’t ship until next week. not sure how the canadian conversion would pan out for you.)

  2. Frank says:

    well you talked me into it – had it for 9.99 GBP shipped, which is a few bucks cheaper than any of the US outlets. And I’ve always had good service with them.

    That second disc better kick ass.

  3. jay clicky clicky says:

    Man, if there aren’t two more obvious buyers for the HOL set than you two, I don’t know ’em. I’m still on the fence myself, but that’s because I’ve gone a little nuts buying music this month and I need to sort of get a hold of myself…

  4. Frank says:

    ha. well I have to say I’m more than a little surprised about the sheer amount of HOL archival stuff that’s being released because, as you say, I don’t know how big an audience there is for it. But I’m not complaining, no sir.

  5. Justin says:

    I think the new Pernice Brothers is fantastic.

  6. Frank says:

    oh I agree – I just found the demos on the bonus disc, and the orchestral direction that was apparently abandoned, really interesting. It’d be great to hear Joe go back to that at some point.

  7. matzohball77 says:

    off topic, but hey…


    I see you’ve got some plans for November 4th, but I’d like to alert your readers to another event that night: Steve Wynn & The Miracle 3 at the Horseshoe.

    Steve was part of The Dream Syndicate in the 1980s and released some of the best albums of that decade.

    In this Guardian interview Yo La Tengo cite them as a major influence.

    But Steve is not a golden oldies act. His new band makes exciting music that some would argue is even better than his DS output. I would be one of those arguing. I’ve been lucky enough to see him 7 times over the past two SXSW festivals. To us, SW stands for Steve Wynn.

    Check out his new stuff at

    Go there and play Amphetamine.

    Over and over again.

    They’re on at midnight, so maybe you could make it over.