[sic] Magazine

Scud Mountain Boys – Do You Love The Sun

Joe Pernice goes back to the future on this new Scud Mountain Boys release Do You Love The Sun . He has had more bands than Sir Chris Hoy has gold medals, not least the wonderful Pernice Brothers , Chappaquidick Skyline , Big Tobacco and the recent musical marriage made in heaven on the collaboration with Teenage Fanclub ‘s Norman Blake in the New Mendicants . It was nonetheless way back in 1996 where this songwriter of quiet genius unleashed onto the world his first band the Scud Mountain Boys and their epic Massachusetts . It is an album which deserves to sit alongside the truly great alt country records like Wilco ‘s Being there , Gillian Welch ‘s Revival , Son Volt ‘s Trace and a host of others. If you have yet to hear ‘Lift Me Up’ or the seminal ‘Grudge ’ your life is not complete. You will melt to Pernice’s vocal and the description by NME of a “golden voice of damaged, regret oozing from every word like wounded honey… rendering glorious the utter inevitability of failure.” still holds true.

This first album then in over 17 years sees the band pick up the baton where they left it in 1996. It is an album of forlorn, weary, and congenially intimate songs underpinned with sly humour and melodies to spare. The band are Joe Pernice (vocals, acoustic and electric guitars), Stephen Desaulniers (vocals, acoustic guitar, and bass), and Bruce Tull (electric guitar, lap steel, pedal steel) and they fit together like cosmic American Lego bricks.

The warm harmonies of the title track set the mood with gorgeous lifting vocals carrying the track to its conclusion. The second song ‘Crown of Thorns’ sounds like it could have derived from the Johnny Cash ‘s American Recordings sessions it’s that good. Sung by Desaulniers it drips heartbreak and regret as a lonesome pedal steel howls in the background. The songs pass by without incident yet they creep up on you like clematis winding its way around your listening subconsciousness until you are caught up in its weave. Thus, songs like ‘Mendicant’ and the bittersweet ‘Orphan Girl’ (not the Welch version) truly pay repeated listens. The uber mellow ‘She Falls Apart’ is one of the saddest Pernice vocals put to vinyl and an album standout.

This reviewer has always found John Barry ‘s theme from the film Midnight Cowboy a haunting tune, but why we need essentially a straight cover of it on this album is questionable particularly when Pernice must have an bank vault full of tunes at his disposal after all this time. It is a minor complaint and amends are made with the last two songs the plaintive ‘Drew Got Shot’ and the pure country of the excellent ‘Your Mine’ a fine album closer.

Overall Do You Love The Sun is a short album clocking in just over 30 minutes but packed with quality. It is not known if Pernice intends to keep the Scud Mountain Boys show on the road following their return after such a long hiatus. The sincere hope is that we have not heard the last of this excellent band. These are fine tumbleweed-blown melodies backed with musicianship that is as clever as the devil and twice as pretty.

Find out more