Artist of the Week: Pissed Jeans

Pissed Jeans is a band that revels in cognitive dissonance. They’re steeped in 80s hardcore references and sound. A few seconds of listening to any one of the Allentown natives’ songs and you know that this band isn’t for the faint of heart. They thrash along with angular, angry guitar riffs, heavy-handed drumming, and the type of garbled vocals that make Jay Reatard sound like a wuss. Despite their rough-and-tough aural exterior, this is a band with a great sense of humor. Their third album, King of Jeans, came out last week on Sub Pop. Not only is it a modern update on the hardcore bands that these guys clearly love, King of Jeans is a funny album about the minutiae and everyday effects of getting older. They may sound tough, but these songs are about things as banal as backaches and balding.

The last track on the album, “Goodbye (Hair),” is a perfect encapsulation of the mood of King of Jeans. “Got no chance to look my best when it all keeps falling out. There ain’t nothing that could prepare me for this… I know thinking about it is only gonna make it worse. At least I can replace my grass with AstroTurf.” Not only is that hilarious, but there’s something very humble and endearing about a rocker screaming about balding in front of a bunch of moshing teenagers. It’s rare that a band can get away with this kind of hard music these days in the larger indie rock community, but the dissonance between their sound and their subject matter makes them smarter than your average rock band, and thus more appealing.

On “Request for Masseuse,” the drums and guitar loll painfully along, reveling in uncomfortable juxtapositions. Matt Korvette sings with resigned desperation that you can only understand as your back begins to hurt for the first time and you realize you can’t keep carrying these heavy amps around and drinking a gallon of Jack Daniels at every show like you could back in college. The end of the song brings moans that may once have been sexual, but are clearly just sighs of aging discomfort. Much like The Hold Steady’s most recent album or the entire latter half of the Rolling Stones’ career, figuring out how to age gracefully in rock and roll can make for some good (or at least interesting) material. It’s a difficulty that only the best bands can turn into great music. And while the members of Pissed Jeans are still on the younger side, they’ve certainly succeeded with King of Jeans.

I don’t mean to say that Pissed Jeans is a joke band; they merely have a sense of humor. The music on the new album is just plain good on its own. The lead-off track “False Jesii Part 2” (an homage to the band Teenage Depression) sprints off right away with a hypnotic, repeating guitar riff and an inexplicably catchy melody Korvette expertly and wordlessly growls out. They never stop, marching forward relentlessly through their album’s twelve tracks. Apparently, their live show is pretty relentless, as well. Just take a look at the video below. They thrash and thrash, giving the kids a reason to move around. Even the monitor goes crowd surfacing in this clip. Definitely take a look at it, and make sure to stay tuned to BTR for more Pissed Jeans.

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– Madalyn Baldanzi


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