The Pernice Brothers

It's been a long time since a new record really blew me away. I've probably bought about 40 new releases this year and, until recently, I couldn't think of one that should top my year end list. Centro-matic maybe? Cat Power? Good records, but not great records.

I fell in love with The Perince Brothers before they were The Pernice Brothers. It was the summer of 1995 and the Scud Mountain Boys were opening for Wilco and Blue Mountain at Tramps in New York City. Joe Pernice and two others sat around a candlelit table and strummed through some of the prettiest songs I'd ever heard. I really dug "Massachusetts". Then came The Pernice Brothers and the brilliant "Overcome By Happiness". "The World Won't End" followed and was nearly as good. Then came a step back with "Yours, Mine & Ours". Then I lost interest.

A few months ago a colleague from the D.C. area was raving about their new one "Live a Little". I hated to admit it, but my time was up with Pernice. Then a friend sent me the track "PCH One". I liked it. But not enough. At the end of that month I had just enough tracks remaining in my eMusic montly to pick up the record. I hesitated, but I bought it.

Now two months later this record's a strong contender for record of the year. It's Pernice's best output since 1998. It's everything Joe Pernice was set to do in music. Beautiful vocals, moving lyrics and a solid backing band. Right now I'm listening to "Somerville" and it reminds me of that June night back in 1995. That was when music was my life. I guess it still is. It sure feels that way right now.

Gimme Shelter

This afternoon I watched "Gimme Shelter" for the first time. What an amazing take on a rock n' roll band in its prime. Granted the Rolling Stones are nothing but a laughable cash cow these days. But back in the 60s and 70s The Rolling Stones changed the face of music forever. Blues. Rock n' Roll. Country. They covered just about genre and they blasted through songs like no other band then or now.

This fantasic documentary got me thinking about music today. Well, it got me thinking about how vapid music today is. We don't have The Stones, The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen (in his prime), The Kinks, The Replacements or anyone even close. I mean, when was the last time a band really influenced music, the nation or the people.

Who are the best bands going today? Radiohead? C'mon they're the most overrated band in decades. Wilco? They're probably the closest, but they haven't released a moving record in half a decade. That's about it. Radiohead and Wilco are probably the most important bands today and unfortunately, they don't touch any of the bands mentioned above.

With the War in Iraq blazing and the country in desperate need of change, it's amazing that nobody's risen to the forefront in rock n' roll. We need another Rolling Stones. We need Bob Dylan. And what do we have?

A Week in the South

A trip to my father's house was oftentimes a bit trying. In the past, the time spent with my father would usually be spent alone amidst a swirl of booze, parties and strangers.

My dad's gotten older. He can't drink like he used to. He hasn't stopped altogether. But he just doesn't have the stamina that he did back in the 80s and early 90s.

This past week in Myrtle Beach was one of the most memorable trips I've taken to see my father, stepmother and siblings. Sure, we drank. But like we have in the past. I caught a matinee with my father on a cold Friday afternoon. We talked about my future. He displayed a newfound generosity that was usually reserved for my half sister and half brother. We ate.

I also spent a great deal of the week with my brother John. I whipped his ass in a ping pong tournament that just wouldn't come to an end. We split in bowling. We bought a bunch of shots. We talked about the Yankees and music. We bolted onto a stage at 2am to duet on Springsteen's "Thunder Road" (yes, I was down on one knee).

It was what Thanksgiving is supposed to be. Family. Cheers. And most importantly, a load of memories.

Dems Good Beeble

It was mid-2000 when I read a classic NY Times piece on Al Gore. I can't remember the details, but it was one of those Times features on the candidates. It completely changed my outlook on politics. The guy seemed real. In an odd way, he seemed like me. I started following.

Bush won in 2000. I was angry. I felt about 3 or 4 days like GWB in the days following September 11th. I was in New York at the time and I was humbled and oddly touched by Bush's speech at the WTC. That lasted for about a week. Then came the real George W. The hypocrite. The liar. The biased prick. The man that left me wanting to leave the United States. I started to dislike my country. This wasn't America. This was ideology. This was fear. This was a man ruling like a psychopant (that can't be spelled correctly).

Then came 2004. I quit my job and worked for John Kerry. Unlike most, I truly believed in the guy. I saw him speak in the Bronx and felt something. I thought he had it. But he shrivelled under the pressure. He was a hero in Vietnam and couldn't stand up this absolute sick freak. I knew it wasn't going to happen. And it didn't.

When I walked into my apartment tonight and hit and saw that Jim Webb won Virginia I had a chill down my spine. Finally! I often wonder who in their right mind votes Republican. The Democrats want an increase to the atrocious minimum wage. They want health care for everyone. They want peace. How in the world does this country not support such causes. Gay marriage? The death penalty? Are people really that fearful? Does this REALLY drive folks to vote for sickos like Bush, Santorum and the rest of the lot.

The Democrats have won the House and the Senate. And once again I feel American. I can only hope that we're back on course to being the American that we all love. I think we are. The days of George W. Bush and his elitist pricks are coming to an end. My days of feeling like an American have returned.