The cowbell seems to be the percussion instrument of choice these days. There’s the Rapture’s ubiquitous “House of the Jealous Lovers,” Queens of the Stone Age’s cowbell-laden single “Little Sister,” and then there’s always Will Ferrell shakin’ his moneymaker, lampooning Blue Oyster Cult. Pernice Brothers, a dreamy sounding, eloquent band from western Massachusetts, have jumped on the cowbell wagon with wonderful results. The song “Snow,” off their latest album, Discover a Lovelier You, is laced with cowbell, and it gives the tune an insistent, driving beat.
Pernice Brothers take a lot of nods from seventies rock, beyond the cowbell. Band members Joe Pernice, Patrick Berkery, Peyton Pinkerton, Thom Monahan, and James Walbourne create complicated melodies full of lush, Crosby, Stills & Nash-style harmonies. Lead singer Joe Pernice, who has ten albums under his belt as part of several different musical projects including the alt-country Scud Mountain Boys, has a pleasing tenor reminiscent of Matthew Sweet. His dulcet voice wraps prettily around mouthfuls of erudite lyrics, full of mangled pop-cultural references. Just the title of the song, “My So-Called Celibate Life,” is a mash-up of the Claire Danes show My So-Called Life and the Shins song “Celibate Life.”
On that song, Joe Pernice sings, “Trying to look for life in the aqueduct / It’s a short slide down / No caution navigating the faulted ground.” It’s no wonder Pernice’s lyric sheets are stuffed with polysyllabic words: He has an MFA in writing.Pernice Brothers kick off a North American summer tour next month.
Pernice Brothers tour dates:
7/15, Northampton, MA (Iron Horse Music Hall)7/17, Ottawa, ON (Cisco Systems Bluesfest)7/18, Toronto, ON (Lees Palace)7/19, Buffalo, NY (Mohawk Place)7/20, Cleveland, OH (Beachland Ballroom)7/21, Hamtramck, MI (Smalls)7/22, Chicago, IL (The Empty Bottle)7/23, Minneapolis, MN (400 Bar)7/26, Seattle, WA (Neumos)7/27, Bellingham, WA (The Nightlife)7/28, Portland, OR (Doug Fir Lounge)7/30, San Francisco, CA (Great American Music Hall)7/31, Hollywood, CA (Knitting Factory)8/1, San Diego, CA (The Casbah)8/7, Louisville, KY (Uncle Pleasants)8/12, Philadelphia, PA (North Star Bar)8/13, New York, NY (Bowery Ballroom)8/14, Cambridge, MA (The Middle East)