Purling Hiss, Axis:Sova, the Funs | Hideout | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Purling Hiss, Axis:Sova, the Funs Early Warnings (Music) Member Picks Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Fri., Nov. 18, 9 p.m. 2016

On their latest album, the in-the-red High Bias (Drag City)—which is often defiantly and noisily low bias—Philadelphia’s Purling Hiss survey the wreckage of late-80s and early-90s indie rock, serving it up at such a remove that it feels plenty contemporary. I don’t know anything about singer-guitarist Mike Polizze’s driving habits, but if he steps on the gas with the overactive force he uses with his various effects pedals, I’d stay out of his way—while he imparts a touch of melodic tenderness to the jangly “Follow You Around,” more often than not he’s reviving the acid-drenched ghosts of early Dinosaur Jr. or Hüsker Dü. On the new record Polizze and the scrappy, unhinged rhythm section of drummer Ben Leaphart and bassist Dan Provenzano inject a needling energy inspired by Krautrock’s motorik grooves (as the titles of “Teddy’s Servo Motors” and “Ostinato Musik” may indicate) and the hectoring nasality of early PIL-era Johnny Lydon. The ragged bricolage generates something urgent and dare I say, fresh—clearing out the cobwebs and leaving my ears ringing like few things I’ve heard this year.

If you’re not sure what tool Chicagoan Brett Sova prefers to use in Axis: Sova, a bit of trivia about his project’s name should clear things up. When 90s Chicago outfit Mantis asked him to open a reunion show back in 2009, he decided to name his solo outfit after the album he had in heavy rotation at the time: the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Axis: Bold as Love. So, yes, the guitar is central to Sova’s one-man psych freakout, and it snakes, shimmies, and shouts its way through Axis: Sova’s recent third album, Motor Earth (Drag City/God?), thanks in part to guitarist Tim Kaiser, who was recruited to lend a hand to the more intricate riffing. The most subtle touches on Motor Earth also provide the backbone for its most alluring flourishes; engineer Cooper Crain (Cave, Bitchin Bajas) helped out with percussion, and the drum-machine sounds during the spiking, motorik bounce of “Emoticog” are rendered with flawed grace, creating a sense of warmth that allows more colors to seep into the ax loop-the-loops.

Peter Margasak, Leor Galil

Price: $8

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