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Listed: Pernice Brothers + Hutch Harris

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Dusted Features

Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: The Pernice Brothers’ Joe Pernice and The Thermals singer Hutch Harris.

Listed: Pernice Brothers + Hutch Harris

Pernice Brothers

The Pernice Brothers – now consisting of actual brothers Joe and Bob Pernice plus collaborators James Walbourne and Ric Menck – began in 1997 after the break-up of the Pernices’ Scud Mountain Boys. Working in the gaps between solo recordings, Chappaquiddick Skyline and the commitments of other band members, the band has now released six albums of exquisitely arranged, infectious-yet-melancholy pop, including the latest Goodbye, Killer, out this month on Ashmont and soon to be reviewed at Dusted. Dusted’s Daniel Levin Baker called the 2003 release, Yours Mine and Ours “too good to be true ….impeccably conceived, executed, and produced.”

I was a horrible student of literary criticism back in graduate school. Though I did pretty well as far as marks go, I hated more or less every minute of it. For the first half of grad school I tricked myself into thinking I was okay sucking it up. And then by that point I had gone too far to quit.

For me, writing about music (not reading about music, mind you) is only slightly less disinteresting as writing about literature. When I was asked to write a book for Continuum Books’ 33 1/3 series, I wrote a fiction because analyzing and deconstructing one of my favorite albums was never going to happen. To paraphrase Charles Bukowski: I’d rather carry a full barrel of garbage through a roaring river of piss.

So, here we go. Ten songs that have changed me.

1. Dinosaur Jr. - “The Wagon”
The middle of the 1990’s. Blasting through the farmlands of Western Massachusetts in my 1978 Pontiac Bonneville. Leaky sunroof. A cassette of Green Mind in the 8-track player adapter. The Bonneville’s OG speakers punished by Mascis. I still loved smoking. A mortal hangover miraculously averted.

2. The Raspberries - “Let’s Pretend”
A Spring Friday night in 1985, waiting in my parents’ living room for my friends to pick me up. Making sure the neighbors can hear it. A night of underage drinking and brief moments of belonging to come. Hearing that the girl you worship is into you. Knowing it will never survive. You will be forever changed, into what you have no idea.

3. The English Beat - “The End of the Party”
Fall of 1984. She smells like baby powder as you dance slow and close. The next day on the beach, you slide your hand on her stomach. She shifts it to her breasts.

4. Jimmy Webb - “Galveston”
Three years old. In my grandmother’s house in East Boston by Logan Airport. Someone has just finished assembling my new Big Wheel. Every once in a while, a whiff of jet exhaust. I tear up and down the hallway. The hallway is covered with a plastic protective runner. In 1998, the same plastic protective runner will finally be removed after my grandmother’s death.

5. Teenage Fanclub - “Everything Flows”
Walking along Houston Street, early 1990s. Summer. Two slices from Ray’s. Hearing for the first time Norman Blake’s inflection in second line of the second verse. Crying like a baby.

6. The Jayhawks - “Crowded in the Wings”
Upper Manhattan, early 1990s. Trying to stave off a ruinous depression. Eating boiled shrimp until you nearly puke. Living the line of poetry by Tomas Transtromer, where he says making love to her was the only thing that kept him alive during those times. I am one hundred percent sure I will not survive this.

7. Guided by Voices - “Smothered in Hugs”
High as a fucking kite. Sober as a judge. High as a piper. Straight as an arrow. Off my tits. True blue. Puking into a towel. Acing the interview. Whisky dick moonlight rant. Diner eggs at 3 pm., meeting over the middle of the table to kiss. Horrible breath, full, soft lips.

8. Simon and Garfunkel - “April Come She Will”
Paul Simon can fuck off. So can Art Garfunkel. So can Catherine Ross, Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Norman Fell. Fuck The Graduate. A big “fuck you” to The Big-Fucking-Chill. Fuck UMASS for showing both of those films as part of an outdoor double feature. Fuck the spring and the lushness it brought to that grass. Fuck the lifeless impression your ass left in that spring-lushened grass. Fuck it.

9. Stanley Meyers - “Cavatina”
Winter of 1988. A seven year old depression dissolved like a weakened hurricane. Lots of shit to clean up, but that’s fine by me. A lightning bolt might kill me, but so what. At least I don’t make the lightning. The most beautiful piece of music is also the saddest. Big fucking deal. It’s like this: When you no longer want to step in front of a bus, sad is the new happy.

Hutch Harris

Hutch Harris is originally from San Jose, California, but he’s closely associated with his adopted hometown of Portland, Oregon. Singing and playing guitar for the long-running Thermals, Harris has aired out his suburban boredom by writing songs that crackle with nervous energy. The leap forward of 2006’s excellent The Body, the Blood, the Machine owes a lot to Harris turning his talent for hooks towards topical, heavy subject matter while retaining the smart/stoned abstraction of his lyrics. Harris is also a touring machine whose kinetic stage presence forms a nice contrast with Foster’s unflappable bass playing. He shares his favorites among the bands he’s shared a bill with for this week’s Listed.

1. Past Lives
Has Fugazi broken up, like officially? Is The Argument their last record? A decent record for sure, but really End Hits is their last great record. These are questions that bother me no longer, because where End Hits ends, Past Lives begins. My friends, I give you the first post-post-rock band. In which the hardcore and no-wave past is cut up with a jigsaw and reassembled for an even newer, more modern age. The fact that Past Lives sound nothing like their previous band, The Blood Brothers, is a testament to the creativity and love of music these guys all share.

Recommended: Strange Symmetry (Suicide Squeeze, 2010)

2. Thao With The Get Down Stay Down
Although I (quite lovingly) referred to We Brave Bee Stings And All (Thao’s 2008 Kill Rock Stars debut) as "Cat Power covering Modest Mouse’s This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About,” Thao has very rapidly carved out a sound that is all her own over the course of three LPs. Every so often, when I’m watching a band open for us, I get the sinking feeling that one day we’ll be opening for them (ahem, Hold Steady). Thao gives me that feeling every time I see her play.

Recommended: Know Better, Learn Faster (Kill Rock Stars, 2009)

3. Telekinesis
Michael Benjamin Lerner is from Seattle. He’s young, smart and incredibly literate. He fronts his own indie rock band, whose records are produced by Chris Walla. Sound like anyone familiar, like say maybe Ben Gibbard? Let’s just say that when Owl City runs out of Gibbard’s ideas he might have to start pillaging Telekinesis’s catalog. An incredibly fun and catchy band, and very possibly the first true heir to the Death Cab For Cutie throne.

Recommended: Telekinesis! (Merge, 2009)

4. The Rosebuds
Chapel Hill’s Rosebuds not only had the guts to open our (for lack of a better cliché) pop-punk shows performing entirely acoustic (no mics, on the floor of the club), they had the nerve to do it for drunk Germans in the dead of winter. And they actually got them singing along! Just a two piece these days, Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp keep it sweet and simple. The main goal is making the vibe warm, and the audience singing along.

Recommended: Life Like (Merge Records, 2008)

5. The Coathangers
Leave it to Atlanta to give us the hottest, craziest, dirtiest all-girl punk band in years. No politics, no preaching, no pretense. Their records are dope, but I have to say, you gotta see these chicks live, and maybe polish off a full bottle of run with them, to experience the true chaotic power of The Coathangers.

Recommended: The Coathangers (Suicide Squeeze, 2007)

6. The Shaky Hands
Don’t judge The Shaky Hands by their looks! I swear to God, they’re not hippies. They may have long hair, scruffy beards and no shoes, but they are not a jam band! What they really are is an indie rock version of Creedence Clearwater Revival. Tight, short, well-crafted melodic rock songs with real down-home appeal. One of Portland’s best and hardest working bands.

Recommended: Let It Die (Kill Rock Stars, 2009)

7. Hedgehog
Take New Order, one of the greatest bands of the 1980s. Take Nirvana, one of the greatest bands of the 1990s. Take the elements they have in common – good beats, great melodies and a lot of chorus pedal. Now take it all to China. Et voila, Hedgehog! Need I say more? No.

Recommended: Blue Daydreaming (Modern Sky, 2009)

8. The Sketches
There are many differences between English and American indie bands. The main differences are that most English bands are younger, more stylish and better looking than American bands. They also can play their instruments quite well, something many American bands consider an afterthought. The Sketches are a perfect example of this! Good players, good songs, good looking! Expect Muse to be opening for them in a few years.

Recommended: “Slow Start” / “Fevered Foals” (Single, Louder Than Bombs, 2009)

9. Explode Into Colors
The worst music news so far in 2010 is that my favorite Portland band is about to call it quits, before they even released a full length record! XIC were poised to rule the scene from Portland to Brooklyn. Apparently it was not meant to be. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be legendary. I believe the shorter your career is, the less chance you will sully your reputation (Pixies, Pavement) or make bad late-career choices (sigh, Weezer). However, all these bands made at least ONE RECORD! Damn you Explode Into Colors! Mostly instrumental grooves, with a little barking here and there, XIC were producing the best ESG songs that never were. Crazy, colorful, and too much fun! I will miss them sorely and harbor a slight grudge against them for at least a short while.

Recommended: Convincing them to get back together.

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