2010-01-03

The Pernice Brothers - Somerville


Artist: The Pernice Brothers

Song: Somerville

Album: Live a Little (2006)

Formed after the 1997 breakup of singer/songwriter Joe Pernice's alt-country group the Scud Mountain Boys, the Pernice Brothers did an about-face from the lush '70s country sound of their final album, Massachusetts, and came up with the lush orchestrated pop of 1998's Overcome By Happiness. Recorded for Sub Pop, the album featured Joe's brother Bob (the lone holdover from the Scuds), guitarist Peyton Pinkerton from the New Radiant Storm Kings, bassist/producer Thom Monahan, drummer Aaron Sperske, and pianist/producer Mike Deming, and was a 12-song revelation to fans of smart and arranged… Read more

Live a Little is the sixth recording by The Pernice Brothers, and it marks as much a return to form as it does a departure from what came before it.

For one thing, there's the reunion of Joe Pernice and producer Michael Deming, who worked on the recordings of Joe's previous band, the Scud Mountain Boys, as well as the very first Pernice Brothers record, Overcome By Happiness. This one has strings AND horns, which has not been part of the formula (and it IS indeed a formula) since OBH. But, and this is a mighty exception, it's much more of a rock record than that was, representing the running of big fat analog tape while sweaty guys played loud rock music on well-crafted instruments through amplifiers and pounded on sweet, old, drum kits. Oh, and it marks a return to New England, having been recorded in Connecticut, which one of the band members used to disparage as nothing more than the state in his when he wanted to travel from Massachusetts to New York. He's now grown to pay it the respect it deserves as a rock mecca, hiding in plain sight.

Lyrically, it's another masterpiece, and if distinctions must be drawn, perhaps this one's a bit more literary, where the last one Discover a Lovelier You was somewhat more cinematic. "PCH One" probably could have been a Scud Mountain Boys song, and "Grudge F*** (2006) was a Scud Mountain Boys song (without the 2006), but instead of the gentle, almost lazy, plaintive plodding of the original recording, the Pernice Brothers version out-Badfingers Badfinger and that's good. You can feel its pain. It also has the trademark Pernice geography obsession. There are eleven very excellently crafted and executed new songs in all, plus the aforementioned "Grudge," which is indeed a stunner

"Somerville" the best song Teenage Fanclub never wrote.

review

I’m sick of the cynical
I’m sick of the fashion show
The vapid and overblown
someone someone tells me I ought to know
I wouldn’t stay around if the money let me linger on
until the end of December
And waste another year like a minute,
trying to forget,
'cause I remember my brother

I left them with bitter words
I’ll go back with cap in hand,
and launder the bed I made,
hurtful things said,
and pick up where I began.

The penny lost its shine.
Dirty ankles on the promenade in rubber flip-flop sandals.

Give me back the rags,
the neurotic and the sweet lament,
’cause I can’t handle it.
I’m gonna take a lover.

Gonna take her back to Somerville.
Show her around the neighborhood,
re-case the place and settle down.
Gonna take a lover.
Gonna take her back to Somerville.
Don’t care if she’s pretty
when we leave Suck City.