You could say that Pennsylvania’s Pissed Jeans are part time punks; with members holding down regular, long-term jobs. They hardly ever play live and all have become fathers fairly recently as they head towards semi-respectable middle age.
However, one listen to any of their records would dispel the notion that this is a hobby. Every note is the sound of a head smashing furiously at a brick wall. They mean it.
Mostly playing a raw, brutal blues-tinged hard-core, similar to a less civilised Rollins Band, their sound has been described as sludgecore. Their records don’t sound produced, more sort of briefly captured before being released , furious and bewildered back into the wild. Occasionally the pace drops to a menacing doom drone, nothing but feedback, muttered threats and incoherent cries.
There’s lots of angry, noisy music out there, but what sets Pissed Jeans above and apart is the lyrics of vocalist Matt Korvette. He sees the profound in the mundane, he celebrates ugliness and unhappiness, he pokes his fingers into the psychic wounds of everyman and marvels at its sick beauty. Often he doesn’t condemn or judge, and in fact the lyrics can be taken at face value and are little paeans to the simple or the strange.
There is a poetry in his tales of the little guy, the weirdo, the also ran and the jerk that remind me of Charles Bukowski.
In the speedfreak rumble of opener ‘Bathroom Laughter,’ a guy callously observes his partner during a messy ‘domestic’:
“You’re in the hallway screaming/you’re in the hallway screaming/people try to get by but you’re screaming.”
It’s clear he and the other people present don’t care about her, she’s on her own. In ‘Cafeteria Food’ the protagonist fantasizes about the death of co-workers and jauntily crow’s:
“You’re dead, you’ve died /and I’m wishing I had my tap shoes on.”
The second half of “Honeys” contains a kind of American sex trilogy in ‘Male Gaze’, ‘Cathouse’ and ‘Loubs’. ‘Male Gaze’ is a very Henry Rollins-esque study of misogyny where Korvette admits his faults and swears to change his ways. ‘Cathouse’ is the tale of a guy full of self loathing during a trip to a brothel with his buddies, he alone seemingly troubled by their actions. ‘Loubs’ is told from the perspective of a cheerful shoe fetishist. It’s a priapic swing through Grinderman territory and switches from the disgust of the previous songs to a mood of happy acceptance.
Here is Pissed Jeans genius. They can alternate between horror and happiness in the blink of an eye. In truth there is nothing here that betters the slacker rage of ‘False Jesii Part Two’ from previous album “King of Jeans”, but this maybe their most satisfying and coherent set of songs so far. Horror. Discomfort. A strange warmth. Life with Pissed Jeans.