The Tipping Point for Joyce Manor
Joyce Manor’s Constant Headache EP was one of a handful of punk records from last year that seemed to represent a wholly modern and new take on punk rock, an often easily ghetto-ized genre. The underground punk scene has outliers each year but last year a handful of bands put out records that hinted at a very new take on old punk rock. PS Elliot, Good Luck and Bomb the Music Industry are good examples but Constant Headache, being a short EP, offered only a taste of something really special. Of the 2,000 or so songs on my shuffle, the 5 song EP by Joyce Manor seemed to make up for every instance of me actually taking my phone out of my pocket to check and see what band I was listening to. Every, “hmm, this is really good, what is this?” ended up being this one EP. Thankfully, with the help of 6131 Records, Joyce Manor was quick to get their LP out there for the start of the new year.
The easiest reference point by which to describe this sound is Jawbreaker but there’s another entirely different level to what this Torrance, CA band is doing. Transposed with more intricate structures that flirt with the work of some of the best 90’s punk/hardcore bands like Ink and Dagger or Piebald, even Unwound, Joyce Manor keeps you unable to guess what’s next. However, the record is also extremely poppy in a way that sometimes hints at the neo-pop punk of bands like The Ergs, but the entire cacophony as a whole is extremely similar to the East Bay post Operation Ivy melodic punk sound like the short-lived Downfall.
The first track on this self-titled LP, “Orange Julius,” keeps a pounding rhythm layered with vocals that sound like a mix of the voices of Blake Schwarzenbach and Connor Oberst from his Desparacidos days. The one-off chorus brightens the song with Misfit’s-style “oh’s” before its abrupt end. “Call Out,” goes right into that more technical guitar sound that makes this band so interesting, with choppy drums that stray far from obvious punk rhythms. “Derailed” is a bit more straightforward melodic punk, but the underlying raunchy bass keeps a hard edge on this record, one that balances any underlying pretty-ness. The LP features a few songs from the EP, but the new tracks make this record well worth getting for those who already have Constant Headache. The song “Constant Nothing” has verses that are akin to 90’s 31G Records bands like Swing Kids, coupled with a chorus that (in the best way possible) sounds like a song from the first Suicide Machines record. Joyce Manor’s self-titled record is the first great punk record of the year and if it had come out in 2010, it would still be in the top 10. For anyone that likes the bands mentioned in this review, it’s a must own. I’d posit that Joyce Manor will quickly be a band mentioned in the same breath with the other underground punk bands that are now known for their interesting and progressive punk rock, bands like: Bomb The Music Industry, The Menzingers, Fake Problems and Frank Turner. Guaranteed, these songs will have you taking your phone out of your pocket to check what’s playing.
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