An up and coming critical indie-darling and sludgy sounding band with humorous lyrics hailing from an historically economically depressed area which is signed to and distributed by SubPop…ah, the more things change the more they stay the same. No, this isn’t a retro review of Mudhoney’s Boiled Beef and Rotting Teeth (1988), it’s a look at the new album from Pissed Jeans titled Honeys.
Just to clear a few things up before we begin and give credit where credit it due, Nirvana never would have happened without Mudhoney. Mudhoney WAS grunge. Nirvana was mass marketable grunge that met with far more success than Mudhoney ever did partly because Kurt Cobain replaced the humor with angst and was much more photogenic than Mark Arm is. I love Nirvana. I will always love Nirvana. Dave Grohl is one of the greatest rock writers, band frontmen, and rock guitarists of all time and I will ALWAYS love Foo Fighters, but Mudhoney was first and that is an undisputable fact.
Anyway…you’re here to read about Pissed Jean’s Honeys, not listen to this Gen X’er rehash old music news. I’ve been following Pissed Jeans for a few years now mostly because I keep up with SubPop and see what they are pushing on us now. After three albums, Pissed Jeans finally seems to put it all together. Honeys isn’t just a good (and incredibly funny) funny album, it’s as much a breath of fresh air in the face of all the carbon copy Americana-folk-hipster-appear on The Grammys and only play percussion on one bass drum-indie bands.(Yeah, The Lumineers-you know who I’m talking about) Sounding like it was recorded in the pre success days of Kurt Cobain’s parents’ basement, tracks like “Romanticize Me” are pure sludgy punk gold. “Take all your thoughts and twist them in your head until I look like a sweet and thoughtful man,” blurts Matt Korvette over some grungy punk riffs that would cause Mudhoney to tear up over-since they pay so much homage to their early music. When one listens closely though to the satiric lyrics of tracks such as “Male Gaze” something a little more deep to the lines “I’m not innocent/I’m guilty/I’m not innocent/But I’m trying” reveals itself, demonstrating that “Male Gaze” is as confessional as it is snarky. The same satire/smart commentary trope applies to “Health Care.” Another high grunge punk dittie, “Health Care” jumps along at a breakneck pace while Korvette shares with us his solution to the health care system, “I stay away from doctors!”
Yes, once again, the more things change the more they stay the same, at least musically. Alternative rock radio is choking under the weight of all the carbon copy Jack White, Black Keys, and Decemberist clones much like late 1980s rock radio was choking on Poison, Whitesnake, and Great White. Is it time for the pendulum to swing back? Is it time for grunge to reassert itself and for bands like Pissed Jeans to start a new wave of resurgent 90s grunge copycats in an effort to bring something new to the airwaves (by bringing back something old)? One can only hope. If not, then well, whatever, nevermind…