on 18 March 2002
Fell into this album by accident (like many others it seems)....haven't stopped returning to it for over a year. It kinda defies comparisons, but something like a meeting of Brian Wilson harmonies, Nick Cave's black humour, Big Star's chiming guitars, and songwriting straight from the angels might sum it up..
Every song is truly fantastic, a particular fave being Bum Leg, with its great imagery of small-town misery and big-time disillusionment.
Don't get me wrong, this is a very uplifting album, the melodies and general atmosphere lifting it outta the Will Oldham sphere.
Only ONE small criticism.....it's too short......
on 29 November 2000
I came across this album with no preconceived ideas about what I might be getting my hands on other than a friend of mine mentioning this album and the Byrds in the same sentence. Having bought it and played it over and over again, I can say that it is one of the best albums I have heard this year. Not for consistency, because it hits some incredible highs but also contains a couple of tunes that are only pretty good - but because the whole album conjures up an atmosphere of small town isolation and loneliness, and yet at the same time, his voice and the arrangements make it curiously heartening. It's the feeling you get when you meet someone and you know straight away that you want to see them again - the songs stick with you, and 'Prince Valium' is a song of heartstopping beauty. If you like harmonies, chiming guitars and melancholy, you will not regret buying this album.
The first line of the first song sums this album up for me. It's a masterclass in bittersweet songwriting, and possibly Joe Pernice's best record. A bit more stripped back than the harmony laden production of The Pernice Brothers or Chappaquiddick Skyline. But no less infectious.
I discovered this guy by accident while messing about on iTunes, and having heard quite a bit of his music now I've been left wondering why he isn't more of a household name. You can, I guess, throw about the alt-country or Americana tags but his music kind of transcends that. Lovely vintage pop harmonies and melodies, solid musicianship and well crafted songs.
The highlight here for me is 'Bum Leg'. The guitar part has a great gothic alt-country feel to it that reminds me of Wim Wenders films, small town dustbowl America. But for me, it's the lyrics that lift it to something else. Very understated telling of a violent encounter under a bridge. Very gritty and compelling. Clever songwriting too - at one point he gets quite a wordy section to fit the melody and sound like it rhymes even though it doesn't. "Could you walk a little slower/my legs don't work so good in this cold weather". Brilliant stuff.
What does all this rambling tell you about the record? Well, that it's a good one. Joe Pernice should be a bigger star than he is. Buy it, I think you'll like it.
on 9 January 2001
I didn't know anything about Joe Pernice till I saw him live at London's Borderline with the fantastic Eileen Rose (apparently Joe's parents came from the same Bostonian Italo-Irish ghetto as Eileen's!). Turns out he's an excellent songwriter, with a great line in sadness, and his soft voice never turns wimpy. I hold out very high hopes for the future. Nice one.