Purling Hiss : Drag On Girard

Purling Hiss formed in 2009 as an outlet for Philly musician Mike Polizze’s solo work. Polizze was already an established musician in the Philly band Birds of Maya. After putting a band together to open for Kurt Vile and the Violators, Vile encouraged Polizze to put a full-time band together for Purling Hiss so they could tour together.

From there Purling Hiss became the main gig, a gig that lavished walls of fuzz and volume on crowds. Their sound was reminiscent of 80s indie stalwarts like Dinosaur Jr, fIREHOSE, Hüsker Dü, and Camper Van Beethoven. Guitar squall that was nearly unforgiving, except for the fact that the songs had hooks and pop melodies under all the eardrum-numbing volume.

On Purling Hiss’ first album since 2016s High Bias the band has found a comfortable place to make their noisy, messy college rock. Drag On Girard has touches of garage, punk, noise, and 80s college rock, and Polizze and Purling Hiss find a consistent balance this time around. Whereas with previous albums the jump from Sonic Youth noise bombs to folksy strummers could be jarring, Drag On Girard feels natural in its subtle shifts from loud to louder to loudest.

The best Dinosaur Jr song J Mascis never wrote has to be Drag On Girard album opener “Yer All In My Dreams”, a beautifully jangly guitar pop nugget with J Mascis-esque guitar noodles all over it. Polizze savors every note on this future summertime rock jam, laying down a fantastic guitar solo towards the end. The vocals lay somewhere between Where You Been-era Mascis and Sugar-mode Bob Mould. Its a fantastic way to open a record, even if you think you put in the Dino Jr album instead of Purling Hiss. “Something In My Basement” keeps that good time vibe going with a great melody and a over-saturated guitar solo. We hover between indie rock squall and jangle-punk abandon.

Elsewhere “When The End Is Over” touches on Pixies and Camper Van Beethoven vibes with an almost whimiscal melancholy over the proceedings. The album closes out on two longer songs, with the buzzing title track clocking in at almost 8 minutes. It has the feeling that it could just fall apart at any moment but stays the course because, well, rock and roll. “Shining Guilded Boulevard” closes the album on a barn burner. It’s nearly 9 minutes of Neil Young buzzing jangle. Guitars go from Our Band Could Be Your Life to Everyone Knows This Is Nowhere at the drop of a guitar pick.

Drag On Girard is masterful slab of buzzing guitar and sweet melodies slathered in distortion. This is Purling Hiss at their very best.

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