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Pernice Brothers | Nobody's Watching / Nobody's Listening (Ashmont/One Little Indian)
An attractively-priced CD/DVD double set that documents a year on the road for Joe Pernice and his band (now including Ric Menck on drums and James Walbourne on guitar/keyboards in place of original members Mike Belitsky and Laura Stein), 'Nobody's Watching/Listening' is aimed squarely at the fan who owns every studio record. And with live recordings freely traded among collectors it's surprising that the official document isn't better. It's short (just forty-two minutes and thus not representative of a full headline set) and the sound is far from stellar. Indeed Pernice's voice is conspicuously low in the mix, his acoustic guitar inaudible. The set-list throws up no surprises either, drawn from the three Pernice Brothers studio albums, with the one regular survivor from his time with Scud Mountain Boys, Grudge F***, and the now standard cover of The Pretenders' Talk Of The Town getting its first official release. Sadly it's an uninspired performance and deserves to resurface in more pristine form sometime in the future.

The DVD fares better, being an intimate, engaging and amusing tour diary with obligatory interview and live footage. Seeing the band vainly struggle with a hotel's automated food vending system, or watching their van getting serviced may not sound like entertainment but represents a much more honest portrayal of the life of a touring band than the endless party myth. Also included are videos for Baby In Two and Weakest Shade of Blue, both art student films that, while refreshingly free of MTV-isms, do little but detract from their source material.

Matt Dornan
February-April 2005