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It Feels So Good When I Stop ( Novel Soundtrack)

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Album Review

Throughout his long musical career, Joe Pernice has made music with witty and literate lyrics so it was no surprise that his entry in the 33 1/3 series of books that feature writers focusing on one album (in his case, the Smiths' Meat Is Murder) was one of the more lauded titles and led to him land a book deal of his own. In summer of 2009, the novel It Feels So Good When I Stop was published. The story revolves around the main character's coming of age and tentative (and often woefully inadequate) steps into adulthood. Unsurprisingly, there are plenty of musical references weaved into the plot, and even a fictional band ("the Young Accuser") that the protagonist leads and leaves at one point. Along with the release of the book comes this CD. It features Pernice covering songs that are mentioned in the book (and songs by bands who are mentioned in the book) that range from Del Shannon's "I Go to Pieces," Sammy Johns' classic slice of '70s cheese "Chevy Van," and James & Bobby Purify's soul nugget "I'm Your Puppet" to slightly more modern songs like the Dream Syndicate's "Tell Me When It's Over" and Plush's "Found a Little Baby." The recordings are both done by a full band that includes many of Pernice's usual collaborators, and by Pernice alone. As an add-on to the book, the record adds an extra dimension to the experience that helps bring the story to life. Especially since mixed in with the covers is a song by the Young Accuser. It's an instrumental called "Black Smoke (No Pope") that blends alt-country and Southern soul into an only semi-successful blend that goes a long way toward explaining why the "band" never made it. As a Joe Pernice record, it can stand alone as an interesting diversion. It's nice to hear him crooning a very faithful version of "I Go to Pieces," or a quiet, solo take on Todd Rundgren's "Hello It's Me." His dramatic versions of "Found a Little Baby" and Sebadoh's "Soul and Fire" are probably the best and most emotionally powerful songs on the album; the rollicking cover of Tom T. Hall's "That's How I Got to Memphis" is the most enjoyable. The only song that doesn't really work is the laid-back and sleepy version of "I'm Your Puppet" that comes complete with an awkward-sounding spoken section. It's not essential Pernice by any stretch, but as a soundtrack to the novel, it works just fine, and its relaxed charm makes it worth hearing even if you don't read the book and are just a fan of the man's music.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Joe Pernice is one of the most interesting figures to emerge from the American indie pop scene since the 1990s; while he first gained recognition as part of the downbeat alt-country act the Scud Mountain Boys, since then he's performed and recorded with a variety of projects that have shown him to be a master of smart, beautifully crafted pop songs with intelligent, introspective lyrics and a darkly witty undertow that dovetails with his superb melodic sense. Born and raised in Massachusetts to a...
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It Feels So Good When I Stop ( Novel Soundtrack), Joe Pernice
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