15 In Philly: Pissed Jeans / Pearls & Brass

Spend 15 years in Philadelphia and you’ll figure out that things in MAGNET’s native city aren’t always sunny or bursting with brotherly love. But underneath the tough exterior are some pretty sweet sounds. In honor of our anniversary, we pay tribute to our hometown scene.


Every band has a story. These stories, of course, intertwine with other bands’ stories to create a sort of mythology for anyone who cares to pay attention. Case in point: Pissed Jeans, from Allentown, Pa., and Pearls & Brass, from nearby Nazareth, used to run into each other at a DIY space in Allentown called Jeff The Pigeon, where no-name acts would play loud, eccentric shows for a sweaty mix of friends, fans and strangers.

“Fantasy World” from Pissed Jeans’ Hope For Men:

But a funny thing happened on the way to obscurity: Pissed Jeans got signed by Sub Pop, and Pearls & Brass, which was chosen by Slint to play the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in 2005, signed to Drag City. Suddenly, two of America’s most influential indie labels were mining Philadelphia’s northern suburbs. The result was a one-two punch of fuck-it-all swagger. In 2006 came Pearls & Brass’ The Indian Tower, a crushing heavy-blues opus (think Groundhogs) steeped in cheap weed and rustic whispers. The following year brought Pissed Jeans’ Hope For Men, a stomach-churning punk record (think Flipper) with songs about ice cream and jogging. Both albums are heavy, heady and unconcerned with sounding hip. (True to form, Pissed Jeans frontman Matt Korvette works as an insurance-claims adjuster, while guitarist Bradley Fry has a job in an accounts-receivable company.) In other words, they’re the work of young people reacting against their mundane surroundings.

With Pearls & Brass currently on hiatus, P&B growler/guitarist Randy Huth, who bartends at Philly rock mainstay the Khyber, has joined Pissed Jeans on bass. Huth also issued a quiet, acoustic-based solo debut (under the name Randall Of Nazareth) in 2007.

—Doug Wallen