Why not start the year off on the heaviest foot possible with Pissed Jeans, Purling Hiss and Trophy Wife at Union Transfer on February 8th? Ultra-thrash punk band Pissed Jeans released their Honeys LP on Sub Pop this year, while scuzzy distortion kings Purling Hiss celebrated their major label debut with Water On Mars and Drag City. Fellow local duo Trophy Wife are prepping to head into the studio in January, so we can expect to hear some new songs from the socially-conscious rockers as well. Tickets and information for the all-ages show can be found here. Watch Pissed Jeans’ video for “Bathroom Laughter” below.
It seems like just yesterday that Philly power trio Purling Hiss released its rager of an full-length, Water on Mars, via Drag City Records. After a couple years of limited-run and lo-fi releases on various indie labels, it was the band’s big and booming introduction to a higher-profile audience. Now we’re getting a teaser, via Richie Records / TestosterTunes’ Twitter, that the Hiss will release its second LP of the year, Paisley Montage, on October 29th via the Philly scuzz-rock boutique label.
First, you’ve got to admire the productivity. (UPDATE: as our buddy Elliott Sharp points out, this is possibly / more likely a reissue of a long out-of-print cassette. Still pretty awesome though.) Second, you’ve got to watch the minute-and-change teaser video that the band posted below and melt your mind with various kaleidoscopic images and bright color-trails. (UPDATE: the video still rules.) The hard-touring band returns home to Philly on October 22nd to open for The Men at Johnny Brenda’s.
With a new album in tow, The Men will make a stop at Johnny Brenda’s on October 22nd for a show with Purling Hiss. New Moon is the Brooklyn band’s fourth full-length, and like the album’s title suggests the record represents a fresh start for the band in terms of its sound. Where earlier releases were all-out punk fuzz jammers blowing out every amp the guys could get their hands on, New Moon tempers the fire a bit with a tinge of country loping through the still often scuzzy tracks.
The Men will be joined by Philly favorites Purling Hiss, who are out on tour with them this fall. The Hiss’ own melodic fuzz-rock label debut Water On Mars was released through Drag City in the spring. Tickets and information for the 21+ show can be found here. Below, watch The Men’s video for “I Saw Her Face” and Purling Hiss’ video for “Mercury Retrograde.”
Local rockers Purling Hiss celebrate the release of Water On Mars at Johnny Brenda’s tonight. The new LP is the trio’s major label debut (through Drag City) and presents the bristly lo-fi guitar rock of previous releases in a more polished, hi-fi resolution while retaining the amped up excess of feedback and noise. The Key explored Water On Mars for a March edition of Unlocked, which you can check out here. Mike Polizze’s band will be joined by his Birds of Maya bandmate Jason Killinger’s newish basement fuzz rock project Spacin’, as well as AXIS:SOVA. Tickets and information the 21+ release show can be found here. Below, watch Purling Hiss’ video for “Mercury Retrograde.”
Mike Polizze cut his teeth on stage with his local guitar assault act Birds of Maya before Purling Hiss came to fruition. But Polizze’s bandmates are also active outside of their collective power trio, some very recently, others not as much.
Kiel Everett, the bassist of Purling Hiss is also the guitarist, main song-writer and singer of local roots rockers Tin Horses. Their first release, 2011’s well-received American Radiance was full down-trodden reflections of days past but not missed. Everett and and the rest of Tin Horses, whose lineup has changed a little over the last several months, released A Life of Trouble at the beginning of this album to his approval.
Purling Hiss is not, in some ways, the same band it was its infancy. There have been adjustments, changes to the way they’re writing nowadays. And the result is a refined sound on Water on Mars.
Every Purling Hiss record prior to Water on Mars was recorded exclusively by guitarist and singer, Mike Polizze. He was laying down every drum track, each bass line and every layer of grimey lo-fi guitar on his own. However, it’s now a group effort. Polizze is now accompanied by drummer Mike Sneeringer and bassist Kiel Everett on the new album; it’s a major change in not only the album’s sound but also in song writing.
“Now I’ll have an idea and practice it with the rest of the band,” Polizze says at a table in Fishtown Tavern, just blocks from their practice space. “It’s just an obvious difference for me and how it went from me literally recording everything on my own in my bedroom and now everyone puts a bit of their own spin and personality on it.”
Polizze originally put the power trio together to just be a live band. Although Water on Mars suggests otherwise. It’s a complete album with highs and lows, spot-on sequencing and maturity shown by its players by never over-stepping one another, only playing what’s necessary for each song. It’s clear that they’ve been putting their better foot forward in working together as band. And naturally as they continue to work together as a unit in practice more they’re starting to gel more.
“Now Mike will come in with ideas and they won’t be completely worked out,” Sneeringer says. “But he’s writing all the time, so he’ll just want to share a certain guitar part he came up with. And sometimes he’ll just noodle around on stuff and I’ll subconsciously start playing along.”
Immediately Everett agrees, saying that they’ve been creating music more by “picking up and playing” rather than Polizze teaching him a song or telling Sneeringer how the drums should sound. Even though Polizze is still the primary songwriter, he’s been letting their practices and jamming influence the direction of songs. And he never felt uncomfortable about adjusting their creative process. Continue reading →
Mercury retrograde is when the planet Mercury slows down in its orbit and from our perspective here on Earth appears to move backward. It happens three or four times each year and the first retrograde of 2013 just ended in the last few days. Intentional? Let’s hope so.
Water on Mars is this week’s featured album on Unlocked, by Purling Hiss. Yesterday we reviewed the whole record; today’s it’s all about the video for the first single, “Mercury Retrograde.” It features the band playing in space and really looking only half-interested in being there. But their cover is blown for a quick second at the beginning as each of them are show in front of a green screen. Don’t lie, you were fooled.
“Wait until you the see the ‘Mercury Retrograde’ video,” said guitarist and singer Mike Polizze, laughing with the rest of the band when I talked to them. So their intention is obviously a bit flippant. As if that wasn’t clear enough in the shot drummer Mike Sneeringer growing to mammoth proportions at the start of the first chorus. Or the shots of Polizze and bassist Kiel Everett flying around in a chair in kaleidoscope formations and across the cosmos. They’re even tailed throughout the video by ultra-violet colors as they play. It was directed by Jon Khanlian of Philadelphia Philms.
Water on Mars is the featured album in this edition of Unlocked; download the spotlighted single “Mercury Retrograde” in Monday’s post, read Tuesday’s album review and check back tomorrow for an interview with the band.
The power trio is probably the most revealing lineup for a rock band. None of its members are able to hide behind warbling synths or extra layers of buzzing guitar. This type of lineup says, “We’re here on the attack. We’re going to tear the roof down. It’s that plain and simple.”
Without a doubt, Purling Hiss is the definition of that type of lineup. In an age of Pro Tools perfecting every note on the record, the Mac laptop and complex synth arrangements nearly being a standard part of the rock setup, it’s refreshing to hear stripped-down rock n’ roll again. And guitarist Mike Polizze, drummer Mike Sneeringer and Kiel Everett on bass are unrelenting on Water on Mars, the band’s first release with the full lineup.
That’s due in part to where these songs come from. Polizze is still the Hiss’ primary songwriter and he’s still exploiting his guitar as much he had on his prior releases. And he doesn’t hesitate to burst into a threatening solo on most songs on Water on Mars. However, his unabashed guitar slaying never feels too noodley.
In fact, the opener “Lolita” is not only the perfect blast-off jam for the album, but its minimal lyrics allow the music to speak more. Continue reading →