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Pissed Jeans

Critics' pick
Photograph: Sasha Morgan
Pissed Jeans

When it materialized in 2003, Pennsylvania’s Pissed Jeans looked like the noise-rock equivalent of those Girls Gone Wild videos: an apple-cheeked, deceptively nasty reconfiguration of lurid smut, in this case the ’80s underground sludgecore of Flipper, Fang and Drunks with Guns. Sure, vocalist Matt Korvette yowled licentiously, but he resembled a young Timothy Hutton and carped about the banality of Wachovia bank. Guitarist Bradley Fry’s mangled, post–Black Flag solos belied his own tidy appearance, which evoked a trustworthy pet-sitter or a kindly new father. In essence, the group gave pummeling filth a fresh-faced suburban makeover.

Since then, the band hasn’t drastically altered its winning formula; Pissed Jeans’ fourth album, Honeys (Sub Pop), continues a crude streamlining of sorts. Korvette now shouts in a ripened lower register, and the lyrics to the festering “Chain Worker” eschew his usual drollery for something approximating pathos. An unexpected sing-along chorus even surfaces during the interoffice revenge fantasy, “Cafeteria Food.” From a musical standpoint, the increasingly conspicuous, acrobatic rhythm section reins in Fry’s excesses, although the wah-wah palpitations of “Health Plan” remain typically incendiary.

One wonders whether this leaner, slightly cleaner approach will influence Pissed Jeans’ notoriously unruly live show. Does the shirtless Korvette still squirm as if his body perplexes him? How much feedback can Fry coax from a teetering amp stack? Might drummer Sean McGuinness projectile-vomit onstage? Presumably, Saturday’s gig will be a testament to the merits of growing up without going soft.—Jordan N. Mamone

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