Flutes! Kaftan! Action! “Under the Spell of Joy” begins with a smoky, swirling folky vibe of flutes and bewitching melodies before pounding in with thick, savage grooves, bug eyed, semi-shouted vocals on ‘Miles Away’ – the sound bursting barely containable through the vintage gear. It takes a whole two and a half minute for the first stratospheric guitar solo, but really the whole album is one long celebration of wig-out, space cadet grooviness.
Welcome to Joy, a California three-piece releasing their sophomore album through Tee Pee Records. If you’re the sort who goes to see Dinosaur Jr live and comes away thinking J Mascis‘s epic guitar solos aren’t long enough, or thinks Ty Segall should stop mucking about in other sub-genres and just stick to ripping it up garage rock style with Fuzz then Joy are yours to behold.
These guys had a lightbulb moment after hearing Jimi Hendrix or Blue Cheer and clearly felt no reason to explore music further. This may be lovingly crafted and immaculately played, but that doesn’t mean the tunes are museum pieces to be admired from afar – this album rocks like a motherfucker. It sucks you into its world with its sheer joie de vivre and tremendous power. The first time I played it I was sat on a train on the way home from work at 11pm, after getting soaked in the rain on the way to the station and yet within five minutes I had an uncontrollable grin on my face.
If you like one track then you’ll like them all, but special mentions go to ‘Driving Me Insane’ which features competing solos by bassist Justin Hulson and guitarist Zach Oakley, which brings early Mudhoney to mind, and the aforementioned ‘Miles Away’, which despite on paper sounding contrived (with every psyche and garage trick in the book used) is still an absolute shit storm of primal energy. Throughout the drumming of Paul Morrone is incredible, somehow managing to keep the beat together whilst going off-piste with so many mad fills that the only conclusion I can come to is that Keith Moon is reborn. Nik Turner of Hawkwind adds sax to a couple of numbers, but they are mildly irritating diversions sadly, and although his mere presence may be illuminating to those seeking to get a handle on the band you’ll have to trust me when I say that Joy are a much heavier proposition.
Transcendent but earthy, beautiful but base, nice but gnarly “Under the Spell of Joy” reconnects you to the source, the murky, mercurial beginnings of when rock became hard. I for one am under their spell. Why not put a little Joy in your heart?