[sic] Magazine

Pissed Jeans – Shallow / Throbbing Organ

How angry can a band be when they’re full-time musicians – what job could be better than that? Where better to channel noise than from “normal life”? These are questions thrown back in the [sic]’s face during an interview last year with Pissed Jeans frontman Matt “Korvette” Kosloff. In real life, you see, the unassuming Philadelphia four-piece hold down non-descript jobs. And guess what? Just as they’re prone to a good rage about it now so too were they in 2005 when Shallow was first released on Parts Unknown. Now, alongside bonus material taken from their debut 7” (the take-‘em-or-leave-‘em “Throbbing Organ” and “Night Minutes”), the re-mastered 8-track blast is back to terrorise teenage bedrooms with anti-anthems such as “Ashamed Of My Cum”, its bulldozer riff and slurred confessions a hardcore take on “Teenage Kicks”.

Despite the odd ill-informed claim that METZ are the first band that sound truly at home on the iconic Sub Pop label for some time Pissed Jeans have been turning in tailor-made sludge for a decade and the Shallow reissue completes the set. To quote Korloff himself: “Anyone who doesn’t think we belong on Sub Pop is stupid.” Yet, these Mudhoney fanatics (“a true inspiration”) have never just been period fetishists, bringing sympathy and invention to the dissonant table in equal measure. The dirty “I Broke My Own Heart”, for example, lurches in from the periphery, dialling back the noise in favour of a spoken-word crunch and flatlining feedback. In fact, Pissed Jeans tracks are rarely a mad dash to the finish line. They’ve always played with tempo and texture and here’s the embryonic proof.

Invoking the teeth-clenched spirit of Big Black and Jesus Lizard one minute, pushing relatively catchy chaos the next, Pissed Jeans have always been a band heading in two directions at once. Here the typically antisocial “Closet Marine” duly provokes right before the creepily energetic and fun “Boring Girls”, which, in its intonation, delivery and wonderfully irreverent chipmunk duet brings to mind another classic – no less than “Fight For Your Right”. During the 7-minute “Ugly Twin (I’ve Got)” on the other hand, Korloff winds himself up like a body-popping zombie, drawling round blind corners until a cheeky incidental piano outro that wouldn’t sound out of place between whimsical Frasier scenes reveals itself.

As playful as Pissed Jeans may seem on occasion, their tortured screams, car-crash rhythms and pigfuck guitars have always let you know this shit is for real. The magnificent Shallow is no different save that it’s primitive howl is that bit more primitive, its balance that little less balanced, the ride that bit more thrilling and dangerous.

~Shallow is reissued the 6th October 2014 on Sub Pop.~