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MIKE POLIZZE: CheeWawa

Long Lost Solace Find — the first Mike Polizze solo release for Paradise of Bachelors, due out July 31st — finds the Purling Hiss frontman and Birds of Maya shredder stepping out from behind the wall of guitar noise into the bright sunshine. Performed entirely by Polizze with longtime friend Kurt Vile and recorded by War on Drugs engineer Jeff Zeigler, this intimate Philadelphia affair clarifies the bittersweet earworm melodicism of Dizzy Polizzy’s songwriting, revealing bona fide folk-pop chops. Long Lost Solace Find finally harvests the wild local honey from the buzzing hive of Hiss.

“Cheewawa,” the second single from Long Lost Solace Find, is accompanied by a meditative DIY video filmed and edited by Polizze himself outside Philadelphia, who shares “ ‘Cheewawa’ was shot and edited in one day during the height of quarantine. On that afternoon, the spring cheer felt eerie against the bleakness of the pandemic. Things don’t seem much better lately, but hopefully this will provide a brief moment of solace.” The video layers footage of acoustic performances of the bittersweet singalong, beginning with the lines “I’m gonna see your face, every corner I turn/ Running through the dreams, and it’s starting to burn,” all set against a purple paisley haze and a blue tree-lined sky. Polizze is joined by longtime friend and collaborator Kurt Vile on the track, who shares “I wish I wrote ‘Cheewawa’ (guess I’ll have to cover it!). Luckily I got to play harmonica and sing ghost vocals on it… I’ve been waiting for this kinda Polizze.”

The story of Long Lost Solace Find is a Philadelphia story. Mike moved from nearby Media, Pennsylvania to Fishtown, Philadelphia in 2004, co-founding Birds of Maya with Jason Killinger (later of Spacin’) and Ben Leaphart (later also of Purling Hiss, Watery Love, et al.) and subsequently falling in with a nascent scene that included the War on Drugs, Kurt Vile, Espers , and the future Founding Fathers of Paradise of Bachelors . In the early years of the new millennium, Philadelphia, and particularly the affordable neighborhoods north of Northern Liberties that attracted artists and musicians, could be a brutal and sinister place, with acres of abandoned and blighted post-industrial blocks ripe for reclamation through thoughtless gentrification. The primeval caveman roar of Birds of Maya—through which Polizze carved savage solos, wielding his guitar like a garotte—reflected that uneasy, transitional urban milieu.

Beginning with his first record as Purling Hiss in 2009, Polizze gradually pivoted to a more pop-inflected idiom that increasingly recalled the classic indie rock of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Although, particularly in the early days, it sometimes constituted a de facto solo bedroom project, Purling Hiss eventually released six studio records (on the estimable Woodsist , Richie , and Drag City labels, among others) and toured for ten years as a proper band. Mike never entirely ventured out from behind the moniker, or the clamor. In 2015 Christopher Smith of Paradise of Bachelors urged Polizze to play his first proper solo show under his own name, opening for the Weather Station . The present album developed from that decisive moment, with Polizze, Zeigler, and Vile hunkering down in Uniform Recording to chip away at the twelve songs that would become Long Lost Solace Find.

With very little electric guitar and few effects audible, Polizze’s expressiveness and dexterity as a fingerstyle player (not to mention a singer) emerges. The endless hooks sound casual, almost shrugged-off, despite their carefully constructed recursive and ramifying nature. Long Lost Solace Find demonstrates Polizze as a fount of perfectly turned little melodies and riffs and guilelessly sung ditties—not unlike the way that fellow Philadelphian Ben Franklin was a fount of indelible, perfectly phrased aphorisms. Here’s one that feels rather relevant to Mike’s move from the shadows into the sun: “Hide not your Talents, they for Use were made. What’s a sun-dial in the shade!” Long Lost Solace Find represents the apotheosis of Polizze’s evolving craft.

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