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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Radio Boy Blog: Pierson On Pernice, APB


Soundscam(n) results be damned, but Joe Pernice is still growing and getting better with age. I know because I'm in love. (Or is it wrong-headed of me, being that judgment amongst the allure and seduction can be myopic, clouded, deluded and off target.) Oh dear, just f'n kill me now. That or go out and buy every Pernice Brothers CD and get back to me in a few weeks. Hopefully you'll fall as deep and madly as I did.

He's the little Scud Mountain Boy that could. (They, the Scud Mountain Boys, had a Sub Pop deal in the mid '90s; 'twas short-lived but it got it all started.) Since then Joe's progressed unlike any other artist in his field; Wilco and The Jayhawks have gone up and down whilst Elliott Smith did himself in. Ryan Adams was the diva who lost control--or took too much control. And who really wants to talk to him? Rhett Miller ain't even close.

JOE'S BLUES ("It's a Love Story")

Many pooh-poohed the morose and lumbering vignettes and still do (dumb f***s they are). And to those who can't deal with such things, granted, Joe can be a drag, especially early on with the Scud Mountain Boys and some of the earlier Pernice Brothers discs and the "lone" discs: 1999's Chappaquiddick Skyline and 2001's Joe Pernice's "Big Tobacco." Like Elliott Smith, it felt like the boy could use a little sunshine and a pep pill. Us devotees swallowed it whole, never once worrying about the deep end.

Somewhere along the way Joe found love (for real) and prevailed with stunning artistic verve. The songs (oh my, the songs) got better as did the production with Thom Monahan aiding and abetting like a dream. Joe's singing grew with each release; confident, warm and full of natural depth. A pleasure. The Mrs. was the cute to-die-for keyboardist Laura Stein who fell in naturally with the band, understanding with that 6th sense. (Her CD designs have made each release that much more important.)

What seems like an unspoken progression was/is pretty obvious. The not-so mad journey from the second Pernice Brothers disc ("The World Won't End") through to the current masterpiece, "Live A Little" is one of those insanely magical happenings in pop music most of us live for. Kinda reminds me of Big Star's run from 1972 to 1975 and the Badfinger stretch from 1970 to 1974. Inbetween, The Pernice Brothers took on some cool post-punk vibes (most notably on 2005's "Discover A Lovelier You" which out-Strokes'd The Strokes with the intoxicating "Snow") and made some of the decade's most gorgeous soundscapes (i.e., "Amazing Glow," "Red Desert," "The Weakest Shade Of Blue" and "Water Ban"). A small upswing of such brilliance came when Joe was invited for a cameo on "Gilmore Girls" last season.


"Live A Little" is my favorite album of the year without question, despite some stiff competition. As familiar as Joe Pernice's voice and songs seem, there's still this huge sense of something new and fresh coming out of him. Pouring out of him. It's the great sense one gets when they're in the presence of genius. And of course the "g" word gets thrown around by many who know not what they speak of, and I ain't claiming that I've got it mastered. I just know I can't live without this music now that it's made its way into my life. Like the GREAT stuff, it digs deep and holds on strong.

Robert Christgau thought I really overrated the Pernice Brothers. And each time I think about that thought, which I DON'T take lightly, I go back and listen to see if I'm wrong. Am I wrong? Not really, although I do know they hit me directly where I live, which does make it easier for me to get all weak in the knees. Would everyone be in agreement with me if they heard Joe's music? No way, although I'd give him better odds over anyone you care to challenge me with. I'll go to my grave with that promise.

The Pernice Brothers will be at The Mercury Lounge Friday, December 8th.
Check their site for more info.

A SORT OF HOMECOMING (APB @ The Loop Lounge 12.9.06)

Earlier this year when I ran into APB lead singer Iain Slater (he was doing live sound for Keane at The Bowery Ballroom) I asked what were the chances of APB getting back together for a reunion gig. His quick response was a defiant "no." Not that that there was any bad feelings towards the inquiry, but I did get the sense that the thought of the band playing anytime soon was as far off in his mind as it was for The Beatles and John Lennon in 1975.

Funny how the right offer can change one's opinion. Word came last month about a few select gigs around the NYC area. Of course, the idea of playing The Loop Lounge (where the Scottish band found a second home in the mid '80s) seemed a natural choice. And fate was on everyone's side. The band will make its US comeback debut at The Loop this Saturday night for an early show (at 10pm).

Since I'm a DJ on WRSU, the idea of not celebrating this return would be sacrilegious. Today's show will begin with a nod to the Pernice Brothers NYC gig on Friday and then turn left for a total full-on WRSU circa 1982-1984 homage for the return of APB.

Fun fun fun.

For more info on the APB show
check The Loop Lounge's site and their MySpace page.

Listen to Pat Pierson's "Radio Boy" program
Tuesday, December 5th (today)
east coast: 4pm-6pm
west coast: 1pm-3pm
airwaves: 88.7
online: go to and click "listen".


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