Thanks to the achievements of Isaac Brock and Zach Braff (one for signing The Shins and the other for name-dropping them into the Stone Age), I’d all but forgotten that the folks at Sub Pop had once not been as concerned with artists as pussy as The Shins and once knew how to properly—if not somewhat cynically—harvest and distribute this thing called rock ‘n roll. Then again one cannot blame them for wanting to put their efforts behind their most successful artist. If I were Bruce Pavitt or Jon Poneman I certainly would not want to relive my traumas of nearly going bankrupt and not almost taking over the world. Still, this gives them a chance to get a little dirty and sloppy every now and again, just like old times when sick people urged other to touch them for some reason.
Perhaps what interested Sup Pop in Pissed Jeans is its familiar background. Pissed Jeans is a noisy, overbearing outfit that hails from Allentown, PA. Being that I went to school around there (not to one of the ones you’d know about) I am somewhat in tune with its cultural landscape. I picture urban areas like Allentown and Bethlehem as what Seattle may have been like prior to the boom of ’88 and ’91. Though there are hints at yuppie sophistication, the blue-collar elements cannot be denied. I cannot attest to the class of Pissed Jeans’ members, but they are shameless in delivering a muscular sound with the pent up neuroses of a laid off steelworker. The Jesus Lizard and The Birthday Party are the most obvious comparisons with its unrelenting noise assaults and unhinged vocals of someone who has been spitting out their meds for weeks now.
Lyrically the band take less than polite jabs at the yuppie materialism (“People Person,” “The Jogger”) and suburban idleness (“Scrapbooking”), deviant sexuality (“Caught Licking Leather”) and, more interestingly, solitary dreams of the socially isolated (“Fantasy World,” “My Bed”). Matt Korvette trades off yelping maniacally like David Yow with crooning perversely like Nick Cave and preaching furiously like Henry Rollins at times. He evokes perfectly the sarcasm and acidity of a more forthright satirist or social commentator. He is backed up well by the instrumentalists who handle the dual weaponry of traditional structured hardcore and untraditional aggressive free flow of no wave with ease and confidence.
Hope for Men is a sickening piece of work, executed with a sincere amount of sardonic catharsis that any young, burnt out suburbanite can punch walls or vandalize abandoned buildings to. For all of the recent pop parading, it’s refreshing to see that Sub Pop can still pick out some bands that can throw a few musical razorblades at an audience. Maybe Everett True won’t shit himself silly in snobby enthusiasm, but these are different times regardless of who Sub Pop signs.
Jesus Lizard – Goat
The Birthday Party – Junkyard
Clockcleaner – The Hassler