Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Grudge Fuck vs. Grudge Fuck...

A lot of good records come out today: The Crane Wife, Boys And Girls In America, and The Pernice Brothers Live A Little. For most indie rock types the first two records will probably command most of their attention as they mull over their best of 2006 lists. I'm certainly not trying to denigrate either release from The Hold Steady or The Decemberists as I think they're both pretty phenomenal (I've got tix for The Decemberists here in SF on Oct. 20th, it'll be my daughters first show), but to overlook Live A Little today would be both tragic and typical. Simply put Joe Pernice and company have made their most consistent, beautiful, sonically interesting record since The Scud Mountain Boys Massachusets.

If you're offended by gushing you should probably look away. Live A Little is bolstered by a couple of things:

1) JP's songwriting is at its best. He's always good but this time there's a joy that's been absent for awhile. Maybe it's being a new dad but his lyrical outlook is sharper, wittier. more literary and a bit more upbeat. Don't worry though there's still plenty of heartbreak and at least one vivisection.

2) Production. For Live A Little producer Michael Deming is reunited with JP. Deming worked with The Scud Mountain Boys and produced Overcome By Happiness (which until now was probably Pernice Brothers' best record). The sound is full and rich, filled with piano and strings and some horns but never overwhelming never sappy, never lush for the sake of having a budget that allows you to make it so.

3) The Band. The boys are tight as hell, in particular Peyton Pinkerton's guitar work is sterling. Deming has pulled out the best of all the players.

There are so many highlights on this record that for really only the 2nd time this year (the first being M. Ward's Post War) I listened to the entire record and immediately went back to track 1 and started over again. For the terminally cynical this is huge.

The songs just sound so good on Live A Little. Whether it's the string section on one song or the sax on another or the organ that fills out a lot of the songs, it just sounds so rich. I know I keep harping on this but it's an issue I've had with past Pernice Brothers records. It's almost as if the producer was at times scared of overwhelming Joe's fragile vocals, but there's no such fear here. Deming builds the songs into thick crescendoes pushing Joe to sing hard or be lost.

The songs have a pop rock feel that's rooted in FM radio hits of the late 70's. As I listened to Live A Little I couldn't help but think of 10cc and Al Stewart. That's intended to be a %100 compliment. Pernice Brothers have vastly outdone Midlake's Van Occupanther as homage to classic pop songwriting.

This record is just outstanding. Get it.

So now to the post title. One of the only questionable aspects of Live A Little was, in my opinion, Joe's decision to rerecord the Scud Mountain Boys fabulous "Grudge Fuck" as "Grudge F*** 2006". This time around it's full of lush strings and a credibly strong cresendoe though a lot of the tragedy and desperation is sucked out of the song with the new production. I'll let you decide for yourself.

From Scud Mountain Boys Massachusets:

Grudge Fuck

From The Pernice Brothers Live A Little:

Grudge F*** 2006


Blogger thinsafetypin said...

I too was a bit bewildered by Joe's decision to rerecord Grudge Fuck. Not only is the desperation missing, the new phrasing on the chorus is jarring and unnecessary. That being said, Joe Pernice is one of the best (if not THE BEST) songwriter(s) alive today and his voice is a thing of beauty. I had the pleasure of meeting him a couple years back at a little acoustic performance/poetry reading and after party and he was a really nice guy too.

10:53 PM  

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