Pernice Brothers: Goodbye, Killer

Artist: Pernice Brothers

Title: Goodbye, Killer
Release date: June 15
Label: Ashmont

It's been mostly interesting and fun to hear what young indie rockers are doing to break new ground in popular music or what they're doing to contemporize the established language of rock and pop. But at times this year, the simplest pleasures have come in the form of old folks looking not to reinvent any wheels, but rather adhering to conventions -- be they in songwriting, performing, or production.

One such act is Pernice Brothers, led by Joe Pernice, who's been doing alt-country and pop for just about 20 years now, first in Scud Mountain Boys and now in Pernice Brothers. This record will probably fly under a lot of radars, but if you're a fan of literate songwriting and a finely honed sense of American pop songwriting, I'd suggest giving this 32-minute, 10-song CD a listen. 

To me, Pernice's songwriting and singing recalls the best of Gram Parsons' iconic country-rock sound and Matthew Sweet's power pop. Some fine plays of words, turns of phrases, a sharp wit, and, most important, a dark streak are his stock-in-trade (as they are in most of the best pop-music songwriters).

In short, Goodbye, Killers may not thrill you, but you likely will be impressed with the uniformly excellent songs (you get the sense that Pernice can toss off these country-pop nuggets in his sleep) and, perhaps, some swell guitar-playing by James Walbourne (currently in the employ of Chrissie Hynde's latest incarnation of The Pretenders). He plays country-fied licks and big rock solos with equal aplomb, and it's a joy to hear. As is the whole record.

Best song: "Not the Loving Kind," which reminds me of something Elvis Costello might've written in his heyday.
Rotation: Heavy
Deja vu: People who make it look easy.
I'd rather listen to: Big Star's No. 1 Record
Grade: A-

"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 41-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.

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