In House #1721: The Pernice Brothers' Live a Little; Portastatic's Be Still Please
In some ways, it's easy to take the Pernice Brothers for granted. All the band has done is create whip-smart, hook-filled indie pop over the course of five albums since 1998, and at times it seems like more people would take notice if the band suddenly stopped making great music. Luckily, that doesn't appear to be happening anytime soon as they've just released Live a Little, their second album in two years. As always, things are led by the literate writing and trademark singing of Joe Pernice, both of which might ever be described as wounded but hopeful. The songs are vintage Pernice Brothers-- if that can be said for a band that's been around for less than a decade-- even going so far as to work with producer Michael Deming, who was last behind the controls for the band's debut, Overcome By Happiness. The decision manifests itself in a warmer, fuller sound than recent albums have shown, with classic pop surges of strings and keyboards. Songs like "Somerville," and "High As a Kite," the latter of a nostalgic longing for the days of Joe Strummer (among other things), are as strong as anything the band's ever done, while "Grudge F*** (2006)" is a remake and welcome return of a song from Pernice's Scud Mountain Boys days. In short, it's business as usual: yet another stellar Pernice Brothers effort-- only as expected as the Fall leaves.
Also today, the new release from the band that is supposedly Mac McCaughan's side act, Portastatic. Be Still Please is the latest from the pop outlet for the frontman of both Superchunk and Merge Records, and the second full-length in two years (actually, it's the third if you count this year's Who Loves the Sun soundtrack score). While Superchunk hasn't released anything since 2001, Portastatic has been kept busy in recent years by McCaughan, releasing seven full-lengths this decade alone. As has generally been the case, the new album explores pop in several forms: power, string-laden, tender, and rootsy, among others. Things work well throughout, from the Superchunk-esque guitar of "You Blanks," to the surprising Americana vibe of "Song For a Clock" (a flavor the band has recently been hinting at, see their cover this year of Ryan Adams' "Oh My Sweet Carolina" (MP3). Be Still Please is yet another delectable listen from a band that is simply much too good to be considered a side act anymore.
In House #1721.
Focus: New releases from the Pernice Brothers, Live a Little, and Portastatic, Be Still Please, plus new music from The Silent Years, The Decemberists, Andy Partridge, and more.
Pernice Brothers, from Live a Little: "High As a Kite" (MP3)
Portastatic, from Be Still Please: "Sour Shores" (MP3)
The Silent Years, from The Silent Years (due 10/24):
"Someone to Keep Us Warm" (MP3)
In House PODCAST #187