The Pernice Brothers
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The Pernice Brothers

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The best kept secret in music

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Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Feeling a bit camera shy

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...so while we were listening to some mixes of Discover a Lovelier You, a female so-called friend (and hint: guest vocalist), beaming and appearing genuinely happy with the tracks going by, turned to me and said something that sounded like, "Do you realize you've made your first good album? It really is." She may as well have walked up to a new mother and said, "Oh, isn't he adorable...goo-googoo... not like those other beasts in your brood."

It had been raining in LA for six days straight, and I had scarcely left the studio. Her jab added to the feeling that my life was becoming the bastard of Ford Maddox Ford and Gilligan's Island-era Sherwood Schwartz.

"Huh?" I answered, shaking off the apparently underhanded compliment the way the ill-equipped boxer in a lopsided match does a punishing blow. Less than half a mile away, California dream homes hubristically erected on impossibly angled hillsides continued shifting in their muddy sockets like a career drinker's teeth.

"Definitely," added her fiancé, nodding his head in accord, sitting in the sweet spot between the studio monitors. "This album is a first."

I was visibly stunned, I'm sure. I was thinking to myself, Hell, I'm a pretty humble guy, but even I thought a few of our past releases fall safely in the "good" category. My face was getting hot. I was having one of those moments that are equal parts insecurity, disbelief and ire. I squirmed in my seat and thought on, This girl has some set of stones on her. So does her fiancé. If she were a dude, I might bust both dudes right in the mouth. Then again, maybe she's right. (After all, at that point I had about as much objectivity as that mother in the first paragraph with the to-the-bone-ugly brood.)

Incredulously, I looked over at Thom Monahan to see if he was going to allow these people to come into his studio and dump all over the previous eight records we'd made together.

"I think I know what you guys are talking about. I might have to agree with you," Thom chimed in, smiling.

Know what they're talking about?!?! Might have to agree with them?!?! Et tu, Thom? I mean, we've been working together for ten years. He might have mentioned something in passing. I felt like a dating service junkie/flunky finally pulled aside and told by a "pal" after ten years that he's got "a little something" dangling from one of his nostrils.

A steady, slow flow of traffic portaged up and down Hyperion Avenue in ankle-deep water. I was lying on the studio floor in what's known as a bass trap: A bad spot in any listening environment where the low end (bass) is magnified to the point of distraction. With each kick drum hit I could feel my bladder and its environs vibrate dangerously. These people must be out of their trees if they think this sounds good, I nearly said out loud. My heartbeat was drawn off its rhythm like a rookie lineman. Then my cell phone started vibrating.

"What?"

"Perneeeece, it's Menck. Did you feel it?"

"Feel what? The kidney stone-crumbling low end mucking up my 'FIRST GOOD ALBUM'?

Why yes, Menck, I did," I said loud enough for all to hear. I looked her right in the eyes, and she knew.

"What are you talking about, you freak? We just had a mild earthquake. My trick knee tells me it was about a two on the richter scale. I'm crossing the hill on my way over to the valley. Let's go get a taco then hit a thirty-wonderful flavors. I have to hang up. These roads are treacherous.

I'm losing you in the canyon..."

The guest vocalist was giggling, maybe nervously, maybe not.

"FEEL-GOOD ALBUM, not FIRST GOOD ALBUM," she explained to me and the room. It was an almost perfect Three's Company moment, minus the go-to sexual innuendo. I suggested we meet Larry Dallas down at the Regal Beagle and drink ourselves stupid with Harvey's Bristol Cream. (I seriously considered naming the album "Downright Upright," but quickly decided I needed not the lawsuit). We all had a good laugh that lasted well into the commercial break. And then I really got mad.

"What the hell do you mean by feel-good album?"

-JP, 2/28/05, Boston