The Pernice Brothers

Nobody's Watching/Nobody's Listening

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The Pernice Brothers spent much of 2004 on the road. With no new album in the foreseeable future, the band figured a live album would be a good way to keep the Pernice-loving masses satisfied, and they were right. Compiled from two shows recorded in January 2004 at New York City's Mercury Lounge, Nobody's Watching/Nobody's Listening is a stunningly recorded document of the group's live show. Joe Pernice's vocals are note-perfect and wringing with emotion; at one point he jokes to the crowd that he is giving himself an aneurysm. The band is tight, loud, and dynamic throughout -- all the things you want your power pop combos to be. A large number of the 12 songs come from the band's first album, Overcome By Happiness, and it is fascinating to hear the live band's slightly grittier take on pristine chamber pop treasures like "Clear Spot," "Crestfallen," and "Monkey Suit." The songs taken from World Won't End, like "Working Girls," "She Heightened Everything," and "Flaming Wreck," which features some incendiary guitar dueling at the climax, are full of fire and represent the peak of Pernice's songwriting so far. The live setting replaces the sheen of studio sweetness that dimmed the luster of Yours, Mine & Ours with some raw emotion on "Sometimes I Remember" and "Water Ban." They also tackle "Grudge F***" from the Scud Mountain Boys' Massachusetts LP and turn in an excellent cover of the Pretenders' "Talk of the Town." Nobody's Watching captures one of the best pop bands of the time at the height of its live powers, making this a vital purchase for Pernice fans and guitar pop fans in general. If you aren't hip to the Brothers' charms, this is a pretty good place to discover them. [The companion DVD is a treat for fans, including videos and storyboards for "Baby in Two" and "Weakest Shade of Blue" from Yours, Mine & Ours and a lengthy and quite entertaining tour diary feature.]

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