Personnel: Mike Pollizze (vocals, guitar); Ben Hart (drums).
Recording information: Uniform Recording Studio, Philadelphia, PA (11/2015-05/2015).
Photographers: Kathryn Lipman; Aaron Haze Biscoe.
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. "Follow You Around" is the number where Polizze most openly puts his pop moves into play, and it sounds like an unexpected but welcome fusion between Dinosaur Jr. and the Flamin Groovies. With the exception of the seriously catchy "Get Your Way," the rest of this set is dominated by the group's rock moves, but at the same time, Polizze writes actual songs, not just frameworks for his guitar work, and it's the melodic strength of High Bias that makes it so powerful. It's clear that '70s hard rock is a clear influence on this material, but Purling Hiss are not stoner boogie revivalists, but musicians beholden to a day when big amps, big riffs, and soaring melodies could be presented with fierce joy and without irony. In some alternate universe, an arena full of fans is going wild to the epic-length guitar heroics of closing number "Everybody in the USA," and if that isn't happening here, there's nothing stopping you from picking up a copy of High Bias and letting Purling Hiss be the Supreme Rock Dudes of your living room. ~ Mark Deming