Spirit of '68 Presents
Purling Hiss, Pampers
123 S. Walnut St
Bloomington, IN, 47401
Doors 8:30 PM / Show 9:30 PM
This event is 18 and over
Watch & Listen
With their fourth full-length album to be released in as many years, The Men proudly present the sweeping New Moon, their most intensely personal and immersive installment yet. Never content to draw on the same methods twice, nor to recline under the heel of expectation, The Men quit the city in early 2012 to head for Big Indian, NY – transforming a remote Catskills locale into a full-fledged stray dog studio home. Taking complete advantage of dry eyes and clear mountain mornings, the band has never before so thoroughly surrendered their writing process, or themselves for that matter, to the recording environment.
Entering with only the most skeletal sketches, the house was selected as an incubator for its technical limitations, 32-hour orbit and predisposal to celestial intervention. Familiar faces remain, the core of guitarists Nick Chiericozzi and Mark Perro, with drummer Rich Samis all returning from 2012’s much-acclaimed Open Your Heart. In addition, friend and producer Ben Greenberg (Pygmy Shrews, Hubble, Zs) officially joins the ranks as bassist on paper, and full-bore compositional partner in practice. Wayward brother Kevin Faulkner occupies his most substantial sphere to date, dreaming aloud on lap steel as before along with whatever else was demanded of him.
The Men’s oft-cited commitment to their “no-one-is-frontman” maxim surely insists itself all the more emphatically here… so much so that it practically creates a new band in the process. This unique situation induces a fresh fluidity amongst their roles and instrumentation, allowing for an expansion of palette and a contraction of focus. Piano, mandolin, harmonica, four-part vocal harmonies and even no-input harsh noise all weave their way through New Moon. Spiritually, it is hedged with as much leaden dirge and ecstatic abandon, as it is genuine saccharine steel-string levity, and an ever-tightening, no apologies pop concision. Summarily: New Moon is the remembrance of why green grass has to lean on the dirt beneath; it is a love letter devoted in bowed humility to the grand continuum, exposing the hoax of the great divide. Allegiances to the glowing patinas of Detroit and San Francisco, New York and Nashville all abound, but ‘nostalgia’ is not her name. The essence of New Moon is to revisit — never retread. Vibrational bonds are the silver that comes to line the long road home.
It takes balls to let Purling Hiss get in your face. Their records are a half-corroded, screaming roar of high-end guitars crushed together, obliterating vocals and even drums with their singular assault. Well, if you've got balls, get ready to swing 'em. With Water On Mars, Purling Hiss have broken out of the basement, run through the bedroom and are out in the streets, blasting one of the great guitar albums in the past couple minutes.
It's a tumble of hits and ragers, sewing together nine new Purling Hiss celebration laments out of their usual patches of distortion, singing melodies and unexpected production hoohah—but this time the unexpected part is how the guitars gleam so precisely as they pile upon each other, how they work alongside of the rhythm section rather than avalanching it. And how the songs embody a variety of Hiss-teric moods, from the gutbusting bellow of "Lolita" and "Face Down" through the acoustic flatline of "Dead Again," the aromatic slide guitars and piano within "She Calms Me Down," the anthemish surge of "Rat Race" and the wailing march-jam, "Water On Mars."
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, Purling Hiss projects their sounds and ideas onto a new platform, with a visceral and soulful presence. Now there is a center to the Hiss maelstrom, with Polizze's guitars slugging, sizzling and spiraling their way around
the rhythm throb.
Polizze lyricises like a poet of the disaffected, shifting from aggro to slack and back over the course of a song; the production highlights the schiz by buffing the raw power into a streamlined blast, hitting down hard and covering a lot of ground in just over a half hour. 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. Water On Mars is heavy stuff from Purling Hiss, unknotting the strings that tangled all their previous records together so righteously to reveal—another, greater storm within.