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The Pernice Brothers

Live a Little (Ashmont)


For a guy who sells concert T-shirts with "I Hate My Life" emblazoned across the chest, Joe Pernice is sounding more and more upbeat on every record — if only by a few degrees. Over the course of five albums with the Pernice Brothers, Pernice has paired his wry, literate songs with music that's composed of minor-key ennui and lush power-pop. While there's often little to distinguish one Pernice Brothers record from the next, Live a Little benefits from a warmer tone and classy guitar leads from Peyton Pinkerton and James Walbourne. Ever the Anglophile (he wrote a novella based upon the Smiths' Meat is Murder), Pernice includes tributes to British novelist B.S. Johnson and the Clash's Joe Strummer ("High as a Kite"). The album ends with an update of "Grudge F***," a chestnut from Pernice's days with the Scud Mountain Boys and proof that desperate, stoned booty calls can sound ethereal.