Release Date: Oct 14, 2016
Record label: Drag City
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Garage Punk, Indie Rock
Where most pop songwriters would throw in some guitar jangle, Mike Polizze lays in a thick layer of crunchy six-string noise, and that in a nutshell is the formula behind 2016's High Bias, Polizze's eighth album with his band Purling Hiss. On the surface, the high walls of noisy guitar on High Bias would brand this as hard rock, and there's no arguing that Polizze's grand-scale guitar wailing and the muscular backing of bassist Dan Provenzano and drummer Ben Leaphart give this a hard and heavy tread that would sound fine blasting from the tape deck of a '75 Camaro. But Polizze is also a sure hand with melodies and hooks, and that's what sets Purling Hiss apart from most of their peers obsessed with vintage hard rock.
Rock tropes form the language that Philadelphia’s Purling Hiss speaks, and they’ve been fluent for a while. Most of their songs cook up repetitive riffs, three-chord melodies, and simple lyrics sung in both impassioned shouts and cool monotones. At his best, frontman and songwriter Mike Polizze—who began Purling Hiss as a solo project—simultaneously embraces, tweaks, and subverts all kinds of vintage garage, punk, and grunge moves.
After years of muddy recordings and static-y noise rock, Mike Polizze and Purling Hiss dropped “Lolita” in 2012. A thick, psychedelic track sprinkled with polyphonic guitar solos and Polizze’s dark, tuneless hollering. Finally all of the elements could be heard and appreciated in some amount of clarity. And the band transitioned to better production without sacrificing the raw energy and biting grit they already had.
Purling Hiss — High Bias (Drag City)Photo credit: Constance MenshPurling Hiss’ first two records started making a commotion at the turn of the decade, an instant show of force. Mike Polizze was an natural with the riffage. The opener to the self titled debut, “Almost Washed My Hair,” didn’t move off of two chords, and it didn’t have to. The silly-string leads just kept shooting out of the nozzles, wah-wah obscuring some barely-there vocals, covering everything until it was one big dayglo nest of gunk.
Seven years on from its start as a home-recording project, Purling Hiss has evolved into a monstrously good band, loud as fuck, enamored of red-zone distortion but with a foundation of tuneful-ness that cuts through the crust of noise and sends these songs home. High Bias is Mike Polizze’s sixth album under the Purling Hiss name, but only the third to really capitalize on the power trio format. Polizze plays guitar and sings.