Recorded for Sub Pop, which released the final Scud Mountain Boys album, Overcome by Happiness featured the initial lineup of the Pernice Brothers, with Joe joined by his brother Bob (the lone holdover from the Scuds), guitarist Peyton Pinkerton from the New Radiant Storm Kings, bassist/producer Thom Monahan, drummer Aaron Sperske, and pianist/producer Mike Deming. It was a 12-song revelation for fans of smart and arranged modern pop music, and earned enthusiastic reviews. Following the release of their debut album, the band went into a self-imposed hiatus as Joe Pernice released a record in early 2000 on Sub Pop under the name and title of Chappaquiddick Skyline. The record featured personnel made up of the Pernice Brothers' touring band: bassist Monahan, guitarist Pinkerton, new keyboardist Laura Stein, and drummer Mike Belitsky (both of whom were members of the Nova Scotia group Jale). The record was more sparse and downcast-sounding than the Pernice Brothers' debut. Both that record and Pernice's solo record from late 2000, Big Tobacco (which also featured Monahan, Pinkerton, and Stein), were, according to Pernice, made up of songs he considered not good enough to be released under the Pernice Brothers banner.
He finally came up with enough songs he deemed worthy of release by the band, and in 2001 the less orchestrated but still wonderful The World Won't End was released to a ringing chorus of justified critical praise. The album featured the core band of both Pernice brothers, Pinkerton, Monahan, Stein, and Belitsky, and was released on Ashmont Records, a label that Pernice and business partner Joyce Linehan formed after Pernice parted ways somewhat acrimoniously with Sub Pop and found no other label that wanted to sign the group or that he wanted to sign with.
The band set off on a worldwide tour and returned to the studio in 2002 to craft their next release. Released in 2003, Yours, Mine Ours had a less lush and arranged sound than the previous two records but showed no signs of artistic decline, as it was a strong batch of smart pop tunes by one of the finest bands anywhere in the early 2000s. Following its release, Belitsky and Stein left the group and were replaced by drummer Pat Berkery (also of the Bigger Lovers) and keyboardist James Walbourne (who played with Peter Bruntnell). Nobody's Watching/Nobody's Listening, a live album/DVD set recorded during their 2004 tour, was released in early 2005.
Meanwhile, the group (which at this point consisted of Pernice, Monahan, Pinkerton, Berkery, and Walbourne) were recording their fifth album in Brooklyn, Massachusetts, Toronto, and Los Angeles. Titled Discover a Lovelier You, it was released in June 2005 on Ashmont Records. 2006's Live a Little was the band's first record since Overcome by Happiness to be produced by Mike Deming and accordingly featured the return of that album's horns and strings, resulting in a sound that successfully melded the ornate approach of the group's debut and the (relatively new) stripped-down pop/rock sound. The group (Pernice, Walbourne and drummer Ric Menck with help from the returning Bob Pernice) successfully balanced both worlds on 2010's Goodbye, Killer.
Following the release of Goodbye, Killer, the Pernice Brothers went on hiatus as Joe pursued other interests. In 2003 he published a novella as part of Continuum Publishing's 33 ? series, a bittersweet observation of adolescence informed by the Smiths' Meat Is Murder. It was followed in 2009 by his first full-length novel, It Feels So Good When I Stop, which was published concurrently with an album of the same name featuring new songs, readings from the book, and covers of songs mentioned in the story. In 2012, the Scud Mountain Boys reunited for a tour and a new album, Do You Love the Sun, issued in 2014. Pernice also launched a project with Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub and Mike Belitsky called the New Mendicants, cutting an album, Into the Lime, that came out in 2014. Pernice was approached by producer Budo, known for his work in hip-hop and electronic music, about remixing a Scud Mountain Boys track, and their discussions led to a collaborative album that was brought out in 2015 under the group name Roger Lion. And while working on and off on a screenplay adapted from the Meat Is Murder novella, Pernice landed a gig as a staff writer on the Canadian TV series The Detail (he relocated to Toronto after marrying former bandmate Laura Stein). In 2019, the Pernice Brothers returned with a new album, Spread the Feeling. Recorded in Boston, Toronto, and the American Pacific Northwest, the set included contributions from Peyton Pinkerton, James Walbourne, Patrick Berkery, Bob Pernice, Ric Menck, and Neko Case. ~ Tim Sendra & Mark Deming, Rovi
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