Sunday, June 27, 2010

Pernice Brothers -- Goodbye, Killer

Pernice BrothersGoodbye, Killer -- (Ashmont): The first Pernice Brothers album in four years (and sixth overall), comes running out of the gate with some of the spunkiest music the band has ever produced. It's certainly the happiest of their albums. The core Pernice sound is intact, with melodies inspired by '60s pop (such as The Zombies, Bee Gees and Left Banke) and '80s college radio favorites (like The Go-Betweens, R.E.M., etc.), while adding a few wrinkles. A few songs delve a bit into country, which will please fans of the Pernice predecessor band Scud Mountain Boys. And a few songs have some blues moves straight out of classic rock -- such as the Faces-like slide guitar part on the title cut. Meanwhile, there are some songs that sound like they could have come off of any Pernice album, winsome as all get out and highlighting Joe Pernice's lovely, precise lyrics. Overall, this is a relatively looser affair that feels more spontaneous than past albums. Drummer Ric Menck (of Velvet Crush) fits right in on his first outing with the Brothers, and new lead guitarist James Walbourne has a rawer and rootsier sound than the man he replaced, Peyton Pinkerton (of New Radiant Storm King). Highlights include "We Love the Stage", which starts off as a country song but has undercurrents of ragtime and jaunty music hall Brit pop. "Jacqueline Susann" is an upbeat jangle rocker that Joe Pernice sings with uncharacteristic vigor. "Great Depression" is a quintessential Pernice song, simple mid-tempo pop brilliance, while "The End of Faith" has a stately folk-country vibe. The Pernice Brothers (and there are two of them -- brother Bob stays in the background on guitar) have reached a point where they can be counted on for a solid album every time, with small variations in their approach. As long as Joe's lyrics stay strong, this is not a bad thing by any means.

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