There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
If any modern band is a prime example of the “Forewarned is forearmed” proverb, it’s the Allentown, Pa., putz-rock quartet Pissed Jeans. From its uric
name to its aggressive updating of ’90s scuzz-rock, listeners should always be prepared for noise and bombast. King of Jeans, the band’s third overall record, is as aggro as all priors, but this time around Pissed Jeans actually finds a groove.
Credit the recent addition of bassist Randy Huth for helping the band find a deep, doomy swagger. The contributions of Huth, who paid his dues in the underrated doom-blues trio Pearls and Brass, are most evident on “Spent,” the album’s epic centerpiece, which is almost twice the length of any other song. There’s two-and-a-half minutes of colossal, sludgy guitar before vocalist Matt Korvette deadpans a few dispiriting details of his life: “Looked into the mirror/Some blemishes I can’t hide/I drank a cold glass of water/But it didn’t satisfy.” With the ridiculously heavy sound, theme of inertia, and quotidian observations, “Spent” could be part of a rock-opera adaptation of Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor. What saves Pissed Jeans from themselves is the same thing that saved a lot of the Amphetamine Reptile bands their music resembles: a self-deprecating sense of humor that cuts the macho posturing. On “Half Idiot,” Korvette belts out, “Hit my head leaving your basement/I feel like a giraffe/Think I’ve gotten kinda dumb/Ask Seth if he’s got any gum.” And the band takes an absurdly literal approach to the song “She Is Science Fiction.” While Korvette tells us that “Teleporting’s lots of fun,” the band responds with a relentless salvo of discharging laser gun sound effects. “R-Rated Movie,” one of the album’s catchier tracks, is a great example of Pissed Jeans’ relatively maturing sound—nimble bass lines, cathartic guitars, and Korvette’s naif lyrics all sync up perfectly. When Korvette sings, “Don’t mind suspense/But I like the humor…And maybe if you’re lucky, one day they’ll make a
movie ’bout you,” it seems obvious what Pissed Jeans are up to. The band members are starring in their own flick, a snobs-versus-slobs rowdy sex comedy in which a band with an adorably puerile name finds musical success against all odds.