Joe Pernice

It Feels So Good When I Stop (Novel Soundtrack)

Rating: 2.5/5.0

Label: Ashmont Records

It’s inevitable: every time a timeless musical or a classic oldies song plays, someone will say, “Why can’t movies/music be like this anymore?” The nostalgia for simpler, more innocent times is beyond misguided, since no such time period ever actually existed (sorry, Singin’ In The Rain was not a documentary), but that has not stopped countless artists from trying their hand at the definitive sounds of days long passed. Most of these revivals come in the form of folk or ’70s rock, with credibility established on how closely acts can mimic an artist. With only a handful of promising acts looking to the future and most others staking claim to the past, it doesn’t leave much breathing room for anyone trying to plant their feet firmly in both.

Joe Pernice has been a wanderer in music for longer than most rising bands have been playing instruments. Known for the Scud Mountain Boys and the Pernice Brothers, Pernice’s restlessness is evident yet again in It Feels So Good When I Stop, a soundtrack for his upcoming book of the same name. The novel follows a struggling musician who relates his life to music, much like High Fidelity’s Rob Gordon, with Pernice’s soundtrack covering the (mostly) oldies the novel’s protagonist obsesses over. It Feels So Good finds a surprisingly strong foothold in blazing new directions for old songs. Sticking to more obscure aging classics, Pernice tries his hand at compositions ranging from Del Shannon’s “I Go to Pieces” to Todd Rundgren’s “Hello It’s Me,” while occasionally reading excerpts from the book in between.

The finished product is forgivably uneven, given the subject matter he attempts to cover, yet is critically weakened by the songs themselves. With few exceptions, the album is one mid-tempo, strummy love song after the next. Plush’s “Found a Little Baby” is particularly clumsy. The thin, waltzing guitar and haunting bells of Dick Van Dyke’s “Chim Chim Cheree” finally breaks up the monotony and the album seems to temporarily take shape with Pernice’s cover of fictional band The Young Accuser’s “Black Smoke (No Pope),” yet on the whole, It Feels So Good still feels like a better collection of ideas than of songs.

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