Pissed Jeans - Shallow (Re-Issue) (SubPop)

US noise rockers long out of print 2005 debut LP receives reissue treatment

Released Oct 10th, 2014 via Sub Pop / By Erick Mertz
Pissed Jeans - Shallow (Re-Issue) (SubPop) The summer before freshman year, the first of my friends got their driver’s license. A triumph, really. Rather than trudge down the hill for record shopping, we’d hop into Gary’s twin-toned Ford Fiesta and rattle down that hill. We wouldn’t listen to any of the newly purchased cassettes because Gary’s tape deck was broken and he was too cheap (too busy buying records) to fix it. On our way home, we’d cut down what we called the “North Star Road”. I don’t remember why we called it that, but the mile long road was a truck route leading in and out of a gravel quarry. If memory serves, perhaps the trucking company was North Star.

Alas, I’m digressing. Now, if you were heading south to north, and you got your car going up to about 45 MPH, there was a divot in the road that would allow you to catch sick amounts of air (north to south, you’d simply bottom out, weird). Every time we’d come home from the record shop, we’d make a special trip down that North Star Road, and in Gary’s twin-toned Ford Fiesta, hitting that divot didn’t just come with the question of how much air, it also came with the question, how much of his crumbling chassis would end up on that road? This is a story that illustrates the folly and stupidity of youth.

Allentown’s Pissed Jeans are back and they’re, well, pissed (little known fact, the band’s first name was Unrequited Hard-On). I’m not revealing any secrets or spoilers by saying that my infatuation with the band crested with their second album, Hope For Men which for the lack of a better analysis served as a launching point for their crude point of view, and stands now as an edgier expression of juvenile, sexual angst. Is it too close to home to suggest the band peaked early?

I’m reluctant to praise (or lambast) Shallow too much for what it is or is not. Pissed Jeans are master tale spinners, specifically when the moral is a dead end erection. Their bombastic ability to confront their listeners with fun filled abject filth is palpable, taking the seven minute muckraker “Ugly Twin (I’ve Got)” and the terse, “I’m Ashamed of my Cum” as prime examples. If there is loathing in your heart, specifically the self-focused kind, come along for the toboggan ride of insecurity. My favorite moments on Shallow (two tracks to be precise) came at the end, with the inclusion of 'Throbbing Organ' their debut 7".

I loved Pissed Jeans when they demonstrated that stupidity. Yeah, the songs on Shallow fill anyone’s quotient of sophomoric punk, but something about this record feels to me like the route around, rather than down, the North Star Road.