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The Early Year

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Before Joe Pernice crooned breathy baroque pop and garnered comparisons to Colin Blunstone, he crooned breathy Americana and garnered comparisons to Colin Blunstone. The Early Year is an awesome twofer comprising Scud Mountain Boys’ first two albums from 1995: Dance the Night Away and Pine Box. Prior to playing medicated twang, the Northampton, Mass.–based Boys called themselves The Scuds and played rock ‘n’ roll, but having grown tired of loud amps and lugging gear, they reformed as a mostly acoustic, kitchen-table recording band just in time for the mid-'90s alt-country movement. Comparisons to Son Volt and Will Oldham aren't far off, as the opening song, “Silo,” can attest to with its rootsy minimalism and Pernice’s buttery inflections. In the beautifully stark “Reservoir,” his velvety voice goes head-to-head with Bruce Tull’s twangy guitar, echoing moments of brilliance from The Byrds’ Ballad of Easy Rider. The Scud Mountain Boys' cover of Olivia Newton John’s “Please, Mr. Please” is sublime, and they also turn Cher’s “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” into something as beautiful as the rendition of “Woodstock” by Matthews' Southern Comfort.


Formed: 1991 in Northampton, MA

Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '10s

The cult popularity of Uncle Tupelo and its spin-off groups Wilco and Son Volt opened the doors for what became an entirely new generation of musicians who grew up in the punk rock generation but found genuine connection with traditional country music -- especially as interpreted through Gram Parsons, who's more or less the granddaddy of country-rock. The Scud Mountain Boys -- Joe Pernice, Stephen Desaulniers, Bruce Tull, and Tom Shea -- clearly fit into this camp. The band originally played electric...
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The Early Year, Scud Mountain Boys
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