Frankie - Joyce Manor - Joyce Manor (2011)
What’s up, ya girl got a new job! Unfortunately, that comes with a longer commute and some very dry training classes. I’ve found I’ve needed some faster, more aggressive music to channel my road rage and keep my spirits up during the transition. That’s where my Joyce Manor album comes in! I repeatedly return to Joyce Manor during every transition in my life, and I think it has everything to do with my introduction to them. Their self- titled first album was released in early 2011, but wouldn’t reach my ear holes until early 2013, when I broke up with my high school boyfriend after moving away for college. A mutual friend, attempting to console me, told me I shouldn’t be listening to sad music, but angry music. He directed me to the song “Leather Jacket” and I was instantly hooked.
Joyce Manor is an indie punk band out of Torrance, California. Being from the South Bay area, their punk-y sound comes with a surf-rock, chill and unbothered vibe. Lyrically, this album is short, sweet, vague, and straight to the point, a majority of songs being under two minutes. I love the spiked heart rate kind of drumming backing the harmoniously eclectic guitar, and singer Barry Johnson shouts out his lyrics in a staccato, strained and out of breath kind of way, but occasionally slips into quite a lovely singing voice. In the song “Constant Headache” Johnson goes through a full spectrum of emotion about a presumed one night stand, he sweetly croons “I still wish I could have seen you having sex in the morning/ Your love was foreign to me/ It made me think maybe human's not such a bad thing to be/ But I just laid there in protest/ Entirely fucked/ It's such a stubborn reminder one perfect night's not enough” before diving loudly back into the chorus of “It's just a constant headache/ A tooth out of line.”
I didn’t get to see Joyce Manor until last year, 2017, when they played at Taft Theater in Cincinnati with Mannequin Pussy and, interestingly enough, Andrew Jackson Jihad. All three acts were stellar. I had never heard of Mannequin Pussy but I am all for non-male lead acts, especially girl punk! I even got a selfie in the ladies room with the lead singer of Mannequin Pussy, modeling a new long denim coat she had just bought at a thrift store that day. I also appreciate all these acts for their stance on the spectator experience. Joyce Manor is staunchly against stage divers, and during the AJJ set, singer Sean Bonnette stopped mid song to tell a drunken fan to “stop being a dick” as he slapped raised lighters out of peoples’ hands. It was at this show that I purchased my copy of “Joyce Manor” on vinyl. (Also, if you’re ever in the area, hop across the river to Newport and eat at a little 24-hour diner called Pepper Pod. I saw a man eating a sandwich with one hand and smoking a cigarette with the other at 1am. Crazy.)
This album comes highly recommended by me, especially the songs mentioned previously, as well as “Ashtray Petting Zoo.” Joyce Manor has four other full-length albums that are all great, too. That being said, there is a very clear shift in their sound beginning with the album “Cody” that came out in 2016, two years after the still incredibly punk-y third album “Never Hungover Again” featuring the song “Catalina Fight Song” which is the only song that has ever made me want to participate in a mosh pit. Anyway, my pressing is on a blue purple marbled vinyl, one of 500 reissued by Asian Man Records, and it features two etchings in the dead wax: on side A it reads “I gave Mike Park a ride to the airport when I was a teenager –Barry” and on side B “I saw Mike Park play at the kid from Home Improvements house when I was a teenager –Matt”, Mike Park being the founder of Asian Man Records.
Michael - Shakey Graves - And the War Came (2014)
This week I decided to write about one of my favorite records to come out by one of the best artists out there right now And the War Came by Shakey Graves. Graves is in my estimation has one of the most unique sounds in alt music, no one does it quite like him. He will often play a modified briefcase which features a kick drum with two pedals, while playing guitar, and singing. Needless to say, he often takes the form of a one-man-band. He has since added a band to his show, however he will split time between playing solo and playing with the group.
Simply put, this album is magnificent. It features a string of great songs throughout including (but not limited to): "Dearly Departed" (feat Esme Patterson), "Only Son", "Hard Wired", "Family and Genus" and "Call It Heaven" (feat. Esme Patterson). Graves' signature alt-country sound often features unique melodies, intricate timing, and fantastic lyrics. If someone were to ask me what album they should start to pursue a path to Shakey Graves fandom, I would instantly recommend And the War Came.
I was able to see Shakey Graves with my wife in August in his hometown of Austin, TX at the Stubbs Ampitheatre. It was an amazing show where he had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. One particularly touching moment from the show was when Graves noticed his high school math teach in the front row of the show. He was so genuinely appreciative of the hometown love he got that night, it was cool to see.
I received this copy of And the War Came from a dear friend as a present and I am so glad to have it in my collection. getting it from my friend makes it even more special and it is one that will always be in my collection. As expected, it is in heavy rotation on my record player. It is an album I always find myself coming back to. If you haven't checked it out, do yourself a favor and give it a listen.