Get to Know the Grungy Noise-Pop Goodness of Purling Hiss

Photo: Tiffany Yoon

Hive Five: Our Daily Listicle of Musical Musings

Purling Hiss has been toiling around the sewers of Philadelphia’s music scene for the last several years, churning out its dissonance-soaked damage-rock stoner jams for the no-fi-thirsty throngs.

But something strange happened since signing with Chicago’s Drag City label for the just-released Water on Mars: Hiss main dude, tunesmith and guitar obliterator Mike Polizze lowered the murderous noise levels of prior releases and brought out the supremely melodic guns for this one. Water on Mars still drips glorious crud but with a grungy pop goodness, conjuring snapshots of ’90s-styled J Mascis guitar-god geekness, complete with thrift-store sweater ugliness and scraggy locks. Where has this inspiration come from? Hive caught up with Polizze to dissect how the band’s evolution peaks on Water on Mars.

1. “Mercury Retrograde” from Water on Mars

They don’t make’em like this anymore. “Mercury Retrograde,” Water on Mars’s potential hit is sticky infection and has the video to match. Ugly hand-me-down sweaters ostensibly from Kurt Cobain’s closet, slacker ‘tudes showing a band too bored to barely strum their guitars or bash the drums while set to a backdrop of killer lo-fi “special effects” is vintage ’90s fare yet replete with a timeless and melodious jangle-pop dirtiness. “I’ve always had a wide range of influences musically, and wanted a diverse set of songs to represent how I write,” write Pollize via email when asked about what defined Water on Mars.

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