Water On Mars by Purling Hiss is out now on Mistletone / Inertia.
- “Struts into the party like Matthew McConaughey’s Wooderson character in Dazed and Confused – beer case hoisted on shoulder and feedback blaring” – THE THOUSANDS
- “A fair touchstone would be current indie/rock/noise/country stalwarts The Men. Like that group, Purling Hiss move in and out of the red, showing that restraint can convey just as much power as relentlessness” – THEMUSIC.COM.AU
- “All the great elements of psych, pop and garage rock to produce an album that embraces all the greatness of 90s guitar music from Nirvana to Dinosaur Jr to The Lemonheads” – DOUBTFUL SOUNDS
Purling Hiss are three men from the caves of Philadelphia, banging tough on the shredding, fractal-sound visions of guitarbro (or mo-fo, you choose), Mike Polizze. The shit totally rips, but before you can bleed out, its harmonic hooks will symbiotically clamp down deep inside you, sustaining your quivering life with tuned up choogla-riffage.
The swirling sound of Purling Hiss is a half-corroded, screaming roar of high-end guitars crushed together, obliterating vocals and drums with their singular assault. With Water On Mars, Purling Hiss have broken out of the basement, run through the bedroom and are now loose, out in the streets, blasting a great guitar album.
Water On Mars is Purling Hiss‘s first recording outside the fuzzy confines of Mike Polizze’s inner rock utopia, where the first three albums and EP were constructed in solitude with a home-recording setup. Over the past couple years, Mike’s been working with a band and fine-tuning new songwriting ideas while playing shows all over the place.
Now there is a center to the Hiss maelstrom, with Mike’s guitars slugging, sizzling and spiraling their way around the rhythm throb, singing disaffected in shifts both aggro and slack (and around to the back) through the course of a song, with production highlighting the schiz by buffing the raw power into a streamlined blast. If that doesn’t rattle your caveman/woman brain, nothing will!
Purling Hiss have a deeply satisfying way of drawing from the red, white and blue wells of 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s rock to inform their own sound, giving things a retro ring while doing what they do in the Philadelphia of today – and no other time could apply, really. So bring your neanderthal face out to space, grab a glass, and prepare for a pour from Water On Mars, out now on Mistletone / Inertia.
Purling Hiss is known, in the circles that it is known, for its caveman anger rock, drenched in psychedelic noise, all coming from one man, Mike Polizze. For this fourth album from the ‘band’, Polizze recruited a handful of friends to round out the sound. But did the sound even need rounding out?
Lolita certainly has the band in full-on blues punk mode; fuzzy, down-tuned and pedal-effected guitars belt out simple riffs over a pounding rhythm section and under passionate, guttural snarl-come-croon vocals. The fact that the song manages to be poppy enough to warrant a suitable “oooh, oooh, oooh” backing vocal refrain speaks volumes of the group’s songwriting chops.
The tone doesn’t stay here though, with the subsequent Mercury Retrograde and Rat Race seeing the group in a slower, more relaxed state of mind. Not that they don’t still bring the fuzz; it’s just now present with a more sensual and laidback edge. In fact, this makes highlights Lolita and the seven-minute, noise rock-influenced Water On Mars even punchier.
A fair touchstone would be current indie/rock/noise/country stalwarts The Men. Like that group, Purling Hiss move in and out of the red, showing that restraint can convey just as much power as relentlessness. Not that Water On Mars is destined to propel Purling to the inner sanctum of critical adoration in which The Men presently reside, but the album does manage to come damn close. Water On Mars is a brief, to-the-point record made with equal parts sugar and vinegar, worth a place on any modern hard rock collector’s shelf, even if they do dip into calmer waters a little too often.
Another step in Michael Polizze’s evolution from abrasive DIY bedroom shredder to… well, a more polished classic rock shredder. On Water on Mars the Philadephian (who, as Purling Hiss, has released four albums in five years – this his first in a studio) seamlessly blends the squall with the shine.
‘Lolita’ struts into the party like Matthew McConaughey’s Wooderson character in Dazed and Confused – beer case hoisted on shoulder and feedback blaring. Closer ‘Mary Bumble Bee’ has a slowed-down country buzz that wouldn’t be out of place on friend and collaborator Kurt Vile’s next album.
In between, Polizze – steeped in rock classicism – taps into J Mascis territory with ‘Rat Race’, softer homespun acoustic cuts in ‘Dead Again’ and ‘She Calms Me Down’, and flat-out snarl on ‘Face Down’. The University of Indie Rock (major in loud guitar) reading list includes Mudhoney, early Lemonheads and, yes, Dinosaur Jr but Polizze also brings his own class to the class.
It’s cleaner but no less compelling than his much praised 2010 record Public Service Announcement. Credit here must go to co-producer Adam Granduciel of fellow Philadelphia band The War On Drugs, who helped retain the grit. But in the end it’s Polizze who is the star.