Wild Mercury Sound

Purling Hiss: "Water On Mars"

Purling Hiss: "Water On Mars"
John Mulvey

Could be wrong about this, but I think the track I posted and tweeted most often last year was “Sunshine, No Shoes” by the Philadelphia band, Spacin’: I’m going to add it again after the jump. Spacin’, to recap - though you can follow this link to a blog about them - are a project fronted by Jason Killinger, a spin-off from a longish-established Philly psych band called Birds Of Maya; BOM’s amazing “Ready To Howl” album got a belated UK release last year on Agitated.

If I remember this right, Killinger isn’t so keen on touring, which in some way compelled his Birds Of Maya sparring partner Mike Pollize to find other gainful employment, as a live auxiliary member of The War On Drugs, and as the pivot of his own frenzied power trio, Purling Hiss.

Purling Hiss released a glut of terrific sub-fi records in 2011, which I eulogised at length here. Last year, though, I don’t recall much surfacing beyond one track, “Lolita”, which provided a tantalising glimpse of how Pollize’s ferocious songs might sound if he was lured into an actual recording studio and encouraged to strip away some of the fuzz.

“Lolita”, it now transpires, is the opening track on “Water On Mars”, Purling Hiss’ first album for Drag City, and one which might well interest those of you who’ve followed the career of Pollize’s new labelmate Ty Segall over the past couple of years. “Lolita”, as you’ve hopefully heard by now, is a lurching garage screecher that suggests at least some familiarity with “Bleach”-era Nirvana, and plenty of “Water On Mars” feels to hark back to a certain late ‘80s sound rather than the wilder psych-punk that dominated the earlier Hiss records.

A bunch of tracks, in fact, could plausibly be passed off as lost Fort Apache sessions from that time; there’s a real Boston/Massachusetts vibe to the likes of, say, “Rat Race” (I keep thinking of Dinosaur Jr circa “The Wagon”) or “Dead Again” (a dissolute strum reminiscent of Evan Dando just before “It’s A Shame About Ray”).

Pollize’s other Purling Hiss records have mixed up the racket with some massively accessible tunes – check this one, the fantastic “Run From The City”…

… and there are jams and skrees here, too, on “Face Down” and the extended title track. Mostly, though, “Water On Mars” feels like the American underground have thrown up another garage free spirit who, like Segall and Kurt Vile in recent years, has the chops and tunes and, now, relative discipline to get across to a substantially bigger crowd. Good album; be interesting to see how it shapes up.

Follow me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JohnRMulvey

Picture: Tiffany Yoon


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