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Sunday, March 1, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 18.0° F  Fair
Music
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Pissed Jeans make noise-rock about stupid people and crummy jobs
The agony and the idiocy
on
Korvette lets out a scream of compromise.
Korvette lets out a scream of compromise.

Pissed Jeans seem to idealize the power of noise-rock while regarding it as the dumbest possible style of music. The band offer a lean and powerful update on the likes of Flipper and the Jesus Lizard that's not as self-consciously ambitious as, say, fellow Sub Pop noise-rockers Metz. Vocalist Matt Korvette screams out paeans to the lowest common denominator. This year's Honeys, for instance, touches upon such subjects as online dating and living without health insurance, both mocking and reveling in their mundanity.

To understand how funny and unsettling Pissed Jeans can be, try the first three songs from 2009's King of Jeans. The narrator of "False Jesii, Pt. 2" proclaims that he could do any number of things on a weekend night, including "start a conga line." On the lyric sheet, the chorus reads "no, no to everything," but Korvette's voice forms a brilliant, slavering ululation. "Half Idiot" showcases drummer Sean McGuinness' lurching and suspenseful grooves, while Brad Fry drags his guitar through chromatic figures that barely form a melody. The whole group tighten up, though, for "Dream Smotherer," the best Pissed Jeans track yet and perhaps the ultimate rock song about being stuck in a crappy office job. The band let the tension mount masterfully until Korvette makes an anthemic plea in the chorus: "I will help you make ends meet if you will let me get some sleep!"

This lyric is ultimately a scream of compromise. In fact, lowered expectations pervade even Korvette's angriest thoughts. On Honeys' "Cafeteria Food," he fantasizes about the deaths of people he hates. But instead of killing them, he's savoring the moment when he learns of their deaths through emails and feels "like Jesus Christ, our savior." The music and lyrical themes have their limits, but Pissed Jeans explore these confines with savage glee.

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