November 4, 2010

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With this being his second featured artist from the label in as many days, Douglas Martin is clearly trying to be put on the Woodsist payroll.

Long removed from the heyday of the various hip-hop crews roaming the dark streets of Philadelphia (the almost-phenomenal State Property, the almost-laughable Major Figgas) and even farther from that of Jimmy Fallon’s current house band, there is currently a tiny little scene of like-minded lo-fi bands shotgunning cans of PBR and trying not to get beat up by local hardcore-punk smartasses Pissed Jeans. This particular brand of shoddily recorded music is not in the garage vein, nor is it the type of music we’re bafflingly still referring to as “chillwave”. No, these bands are raiding their fathers’ record collections, dusting off the sleeves of the music electro-heads scoff at, of the music punk was basically created to destroy. That’s right, classic rock.

The Dylanesque rockers of The War on Drugs begat the city’s newest marquee name, Kurt Vile, who has released three records and numerous seven-inches and EPs of hushed folk tunes and lighter-raising barnburners in the past two years. Brought along on Vile’s current jaunt of the United States is a young songwriter rising quickly in Philly’s ranks: Mike Polizze, better known as Purling Hiss.

On “Don’t Even Try It,” the first peek from Public Service Announcement (out now on, you guessed it, Woodsist), Polizze showcases the “first take, best take” majesty of his lo-fi peers, churning out a would-be anthemic gem that opens with a brief spate of woozy tape damage. The simple chord progressions are augmented by barely-there drums ridiculously low in the mix, and Polizze’s slightly twangy, weather-battered voice, sounding like a lost Tom Petty demo or your cool uncle fucking around on a thrift-store-bought 4-track back when he still lived with your grandmother.

Polizze’s gift for melody kicks in the gear by the chorus, spouting lyrics, “woo-hoo-oohs,” and “heys” about the thing he wants (a lover, naturally) not being anywhere he looks. The song is bookended with a climactic guitar solo and a few seconds of tape hiss, the feeling of withdrawal lingering on. “Don’t Even Try It” evokes a sound slowly coming back into vogue and a sentiment that has never stopped being relevant, making it perfectly clear why Vile and Woodsist (as well as I) have taken such a liking to Purling Hiss. Here’s hoping Polizze eventually becomes Philly’s most wanted instead of, um, Philly’s Most Wanted. –DM

Download:
MP3: Purling Hiss-“Don’t Even Try It”
MP3: Purling Hiss-“Passenger Queen”

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