“Goodbye, Killer” presents the strongest set of songs recorded yet by Joe Pernice. Blasting through ten tracks — and not a bad one to be found among them — in just over 30 minutes, Joe and Bob Pernice, Ric Menck, and James Walbourne do without the bells and whistles, literally and metaphorically, and prove once again how less can be more.

Plus there is, as always, the poetry of the lyrics. Whether he’s singing about the beginning, as in “Jacqueline Susann” (which you can download from the Pernice Brothers’ website), the beginning of the end, as in “Something for You,” or the end, as on, actually, most of the other tracks, Pernice captures the essence of a comically/tragically horrible situation like no one else can.

The girl in “Jacqueline Susann” reads Ford Madox Ford, too, so it seems fitting to close with this quote, from “The Gold Solider,” though it could just have easily come from Joe Pernice himself:

She asked him perpetually what he wanted. What did he want? What did he want? And all he ever answered was: “I have told you” … But just once he tripped up. To Leonora’s eternal question he answered that all he desired in life was that–that he could pick himself together again and go on with his daily occupations if–the girl, being five thousand miles away, would continue to love him. He wanted nothing more; he prayed his God for nothing more. Well, he was a sentimentalist.


2009 was a great, great year for rock in Boston, and so I could have easily expanded this list into a top 20. But, anyway, here are my ten most favorite local recordings from the year just past.

  1. Old Furnace, Hidden Hills
  2. Pants Yell!, Received Pronunciation
  3. Neats, 1981-84 The Ace of Hearts Years
  4. Chriss Sutherland, Worried Love
  5. Arms and Sleepers, Matador
  6. Mission of Burma, The Sound The Speed The Light
  7. Joe Pernice, It Feels So Good When I Stop
  8. Technoir MA, Technoir MA
  9. Appletown Gun Shop, Ghosts of Green
  10. Animal Hospital, Good or Plenty, Streets + Avenues

fsgwis_bigJoe Pernice just published a novel called “It Feels So Good When I Stop.” The story revolves around an unnamed protagonist/narrator, hiding out in his sister’s house on the Cape, off season, broke and getting around the mostly-deserted town on a girl’s bicycle called “Sweet Thunder” that dates back to that same sister’s tenth birthday. Break-ups, freak-outs, disappointments, and failures abound. “The stuff of day-to-day life,” you might say.

The cd of the same name goes along with the book; this “novel soundtrack” presents ten songs that figure into the story together with a few tracks of Pernice reading excerpts from text itself. What can I say? I like the song selection, ranging from Del Shannon’s “I Go To Pieces,” to Todd Rundgren’s “Hello It’s Me,” to The Dream Syndicate’s “Tell Me When It’s Over” (see below), to Sebadoh’s “Soul and Fire.” And I like the way that Pernice simplifies each tune and really makes it his own.

Also, a couple other things.

First, in the book, the narrator and his roommate Richie form a band called the Young Accuser, record acoustic versions of “Baby, I Love Your Way” and “It’s a Living Thing,” and join together in arguing that “irony is for chumps, and that irony in music is the worst kind of irony.” An interesting and useful philosophy, for which I have a great deal of sympathy. I’d love to get in the car, turn on 68 rko, and hear music like they used to play. Too bad those days are gone.

Second, in a key scene from the book that takes place at a Lou Barlow show, the narrator passes a Young Accuser’s tape along to an Sub Pop A&R rep, who later writes back that “one song in particular, ‘Black Smoke, No Pope,’ does not completely suck.” This song, an instrumental written by Pernice, can be found on the cd and is now also available as a Sub Pop single. Whoa! It’s life imitating art imitating life imitating art, in an ever-oscillating sequence like that generated by a higher-order difference equation with complex roots. A cheap trick, perhaps — but also another reason to love the entire project.

Still love this one!