Pernice leaves Sub Pop; Death Cab surges.

Talk about your hasty exits! The Gnome has learned that Joe Pernice has asked off of Sub Pop and been granted his wish, only a month after the release of the melodic maestro's latest opus, the self-titled debut from Chappaquidick Skyline. Pernice brought his first and most popular project, the Scud Mountain Boys, to the Seattle label in 1996, and released the Eagles-esque (yipes!) Massachusetts. Sub Pop then reissued the band's previous two albums as The Early Year, a double-CD set; the records had only been available on vinyl, and despite sparse distribution, they'd garnered a buzz among the alt-country set. Pernice disbanded the Scud Mountain Boys and took a pop turn with the Pernice Brothers, which issued one of Sub Pop's most tuneful and promising albums in recent years with 1998's Overcome By Happiness. Despite its wealth of spiffy and soulful songs and a title that dripped with the sort of ironic faux-optimism that all the kids seemed to love back in '98 (that was the Year of Beck, you'll remember), the album only chalked up modest sales—which is part of Pernice's reason for ditching Sub Pop, according to a Gnome Gnotifier who spoke with the estimable songwriter recently. The singer and guitarist will start his own label, because he says he'd rather sell his 5,000-7,000 copies for his own benefit rather than for a record company's gain. In other words, no hard feelings, Pernice says.

At least Sub Pop can get a piece of the Death Cab for Cutie action. The label will release the band's next 7-inch record in March as part of its members-only singles club (while the band's next album is due out on Barsuk March 21). It's a spectacular time to hook onto the Death Cab star, as the band is quickly becoming the most buzzed-about since Modest Mouse. Death Cab debuted new drummer Michael Schorr at a pair of Breakroom shows last Saturday (a matinee for the all-ages crowd and a 21-and-over set at night), as well as a rousing cover of the Stone Roses' "I Wanna Be Adored"—punctuated with frontman Ben Gibbard's patented Godzilla dance, in which he stomps from side to side like a crazy old monster.

OK, the Gnome doesn't wanna bring anyone down, but it's time to pay some respect to a great man who passed away last week. Lost amid all the eulogies for Tom Landry and Charles Schulz was the death of Canadian magician and Master of Illusion Doug Henning, who was 52. As a young Gnome, your gnarly correspondent would burrow all the way to New York and into a Broadway theater to watch The Magic Show, the only musical that ever mattered. May magic find you in Heaven, Doug. You betcha!

You can reach the Metro Gnome at metrognome@seattleweekly.com

 
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