Personnel: Mike Polizze (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano, drums, percussion); Kiel Everett (acoustic guitar); Ben Leaphart (drums).
Recording information: Black Dirt Studio (02/2014).
Photographers: Jason Meagher; Tiffany Yoon.
Philadelphia alterna-fuzz trio Purling Hiss' 2013 album Water on Mars was a collection of '90s-styled pop hooks buried in layers of alien guitar tones and other types of extraterrestrial obscurity. Bandleader/songwriter/singer/guitarist Mike Polizze's tunes on that record zigzagged between alienated grunge-pop, slightly psychedelic folk-leaning dirges, and all-out attacks of abrasive guitar rock, always channeling the ghost of one patron saint of '90s slackerdom or another. Much like Water on Mars, Purling Hiss' 2014 follow-up, Weirdon, manages to recall moments of early indie rock magic without losing the unique core of numbed bliss and erratic weirdness that centers Polizze's songwriting. Some songs here still bear the same heavy influence of more dazed and confused alternative poster boys like the Lemonheads, the Replacements, and Nirvana in their shaggier moments, but there's a more sophomoric feel to Weirdon. Album opener "Forcefield of Solitude" seamlessly marries the carefree melodic simplicity and dazzled speak-singing of early Pavement with the melancholic dreaminess and guitar warping of Sonic Youth or Dinosaur Jr. Somewhere in the song Polizze manages to show how much all those bands took from the rolling rhythms of early college rockers like the Clean or the Feelies. There's a bit more humor here, too, on the oddball psychedelic effects of "Sundance Saloon Boogie" and the Vaselines-modeled noise pop weirdness of "Where's Sweetboy." Elsewhere, Polizze taps into the more sunbaked folk side of things that has popped up throughout his always shifting catalog, offering John Fahey-esque open-tuned interludes as well as "Reptili-a-genda," mirroring the same slacker blues that made Beck's One Foot in the Grave some of his best (and strangest) work. Weirdon feels more lighthearted than its predecessor, offering just as many aggressive guitar freakouts and blasts of antagonistic noise, but handing them over this time with a smirk instead of a scowl. ~ Fred Thomas
CMJ - "Weirdon, out this week, places a heavier emphasis on the poppy and the melodic than anything this band has previously done, without sacrificing their characteristic weirdness."
Pitchfork (Website) - "Purling Hiss have settled into a sharply defined middle ground: gentle strumming and blown-out heaviness still lurk in the wings, but the sweet spot is punk rock'n'roll."