Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Pissed Jeans

[for Plan B, and put up here mostly in honour of the friend mentioned in the piece, who is a dude I haven't hung with in far too long. A bit nervous uploading this one, now I know my mum reads my blog; Mum, I don't think you'll like this one, it's a bit rude]

Hope For Men (Sub Pop)

I’ll never forget the night I was devirginised by The Jesus Lizard, sometime back in the 1990s at a dingy, mirror-walled basement in Charing Cross called the LA2 (now known as the Mean Fiddler). It was everything I’d dreamed it could be, from bassist David Wm. Sims’ murderous stare and relentless foot-stomp, to David Yow’s encore appearance clad only in a nappy, which he soon shed. It was at this point that my companion that night (name withheld to protect the shameless) returned after sortie down the very front, a look of impish, irrepressible pride on his sweaty face. “I just took a piss in the moshpit,” he beamed. As I gazed at the dark patches on his trousers, and then switched my gaze to Yow, naked and fucking the stage, I had to admit it was a pretty Jesus Lizard thing to do.

I share such golden reminiscence at this juncture because that same guttural, animalistic mindset is also the preserve of Pissed Jeans, a quartet from Allentown, Pennsylvania whose second album, Hope For Men, is a more abrasive scour of ugliness than I’ve heard in a long time. They are noise rockers, adept at both noise and rock, never allowing one ingredient to get the better of the other. Often, they sound like two different groups playing at once, recognisable and gnarly melody fighting chaotic din for your attention, a tension that keeps this forty minute set so addictively taut.

Opener ‘People Person’ sets vibes to ‘bad’ from the get-go, with a knitting machine beat that feels like a drumstick hammering your temple, guitarist Bradley Fry seemingly tossing his guitar about a room carpeted in twisted steel and broken glass, furnace-mouthed frontman Matt Korvette babbling street-person talk somewhere near the microphone. Korvette sings pretty much like Jon Spencer did right back in the early days of Pussy Galore, a throat-shredding snarl thick with disgust, marshalling a group who sound as if they’d like nothing better than just whaling at their gear for an hour or so with chains and crowbars. In places, it sounds exhilaratingly like that’s exactly what they did.

Pissed Jeans are a tissue of grisly pigfuck reference, from the chainsaw-juggling sleaze of Jesus Lizard, to the molten sludge-blues of late Black Flag, to the ecstatic grind of Melvins; they share with these bands an artful, blunt fascination with subterranean ick, with a musky, ugly sense of manliness, all threats and derangement and debasement. Pissed Jeans smear fine new shapes in the mud and pus and cum and shit and sweat and dirt that is their milieu.

Neil Kulkarni once described Jesus Lizard as the sound of “homosexual panic”; certainly, Pissed Jeans are the sound of a soul in a state of deranged terror, an exorcism, a catharsis of an animalism we’re taught to abandon for civility. Frustration, fear, anger course through all this unruly sound, unleashed and, for a moment, expunged. Malevolence like this shouldn’t be kept inside to fester – the dissonant ooze of noise-poem ‘The Jogger’ profoundly unnerves – so consider this like Fight Club for ‘rockers’, maybe.

Certainly, the hurtling, ricocheting din feels good, especially when the raging shriek quietens down enough so the planet-flattening riffs can breathe, or when the raging shriek swallows those riffs whole. I dare say it feels as good as taking a piss in the mosh-pit of a Jesus Lizard show and spraying your jeans with urine, although I wouldn’t know, as I’m not the sort to do such a thing. I listen to Pissed Jeans instead, and revel in the debasement by safe, hygienic proxy.

(c) Stevie Chick 2007

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