by Chris Familton
Pissed Jeans… how can anyone go past a name like that? As a descriptor of the band that the moniker graces it is a pretty appropriate for these Pennsylvanian miscreants who ooze bodily fluids, sordid themes and many forms of self loathing and disdain. Following on from 2009’s Hope For Men, Honeys sticks to the same template of that and previous records while also succeeding in peeling back some of the scabs to expose a rawer and more bruising sound.
There are some obvious precursors to their type of sludgy post-hardcore punk rock. Jesus Lizard, Tad and Harvey Milk all laid the paving stones for Pissed Jeans while in New Zealand you can draw a strong line back to SPUD and early HLAH. The gruff, flailing, strangled wail of singer Matt Korvette is the icing on the cake. He uses grunts, monotone monologues and visceral bellows to unload his peeves and cynical observations on technology, modern life and its inhabitants like a less earnest Henry Rollins. Cafeteria Food finds him as a worker celebrating the death of his project manager whose life he finds inane and shallow and it is just this type of subject matter that sets Pissed Jeans apart from many others working in similar musical realms. Honeys is packed with lines like “There comes a time in my life to choose a health plan. You wanna know my secret? I stay away from doctors”. Lines that make you either chuckle or grimace depending on the blackness of your sense of humour.
While Korvette’s voice and demeanor quite rightly draw in the listener it wouldn’t succeed without the rest of the band delivering him wheelbarrow loads of lurching sleazy rock with which to spew forth his discontent. The drums are brutal and unrelenting with Randy Huth’s bass hitting like a pick axe, deep and tight in the rock. Bradley Fry has a great handle on when to dispense nervous twitching treble riffs and then drop gears into a grinding and distorted chordal death waltz. Either way it is his playing that keeps everything on edge and swinging between total chaos and mechanical bulldozer punk metal. On the Nirvana-leaning Health Plan he sticks to the punk rock rule book of rapid fire chord changes, no solos included while elsewhere he nails measured crunch and broken note bends on Male Gaze and Birthday Party-sounding noise on Chain Worker.
There is a certain intensity that makes Pissed Jeans a band that will be championed by its own predefined audience and even with minor changes they’ve shown on each album they’ll never break out and find a new demographic of fans. That though isn’t a problem when you are the frontrunners in your field. With Fugazi on a long term hiatus, Jesus Lizard seemingly boxed in the attic again and Rollins content to traverse the globe with his spoken word it is left to the likes of Pissed Jeans to carry the torch for this type of bold and brash gonzo rock that wallows so beautifully in society’s ugly failings.
this review was first published on undertheradar.co.nz