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Joyce Manor’s ‘Never Hungover Again’ Will Engross Us All

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July 14, 2014
by Bryne Yancey

Maybe alienation is a strong word, but some Joyce Manor fans probably felt alienated by 2012’sOf All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired. A nine-track, 13-minute flurry of non-repeating moods and ideas, of quietly distant acoustic guitars, Smiths-laced pop-rock, and an aggressive cover of the Buggles’ “Video Killed The Radio Star,” the album seemed to be an overt reaction to the fan-friendly, poppy straightforwardness of the band’s 2011 eponymous debut. It was a studio-heavy project full of songs that wouldn’t, and didn’t, easily translate to the band’s live shows. An experiment, even. Critics loved it; fans were a little less universally enthusiastic. “Violent Inside” and “Comfortable Clothes” weren’t getting the same reaction live as “Constant Headache,” “Beach Community” or any other song from Joyce Manor.

The thing about a band completely subverting expectations, especially when following up such a beloved debut, is that it becomes a pattern if it’s done for more than one album, and with that comes a lot of risk. Subvert expectations once, and the fans will stick around; do it twice or more, and the band risks garnering a reputation they may not want. Fans are smarter than ever now, and they pick up on that stuff. While its members aren’t rich by any conceivable stretch, Joyce Manor make the bulk of their money as a band while touring. In a weird way, they’ve kind of set themselves up to only write and perform “hits” for the immediate future. A revelation of a first record will do that to a band sometimes.

Never Hungover Again, out July 22 on Epitaph and streaming at NPR right now, seems primed to reconcile and reinvigorate those aforementioned alienated sections of Joyce Manor’s fervent, stagedive-happy fanbase. It’s apparent that the band wanted to write a record that would one hundred percent translate to the stage. At ten songs and 19 minutes, it’s crisply presented and eternally replayable. (Well-intentioned listeners wishing aloud that the band would write longer songs and longer records: Why? Your own conventions of what a song should or shouldn’t be cannot be imposed on a band unless perhaps you are in that band. It reeks of entitlement. If a song, whether it’s a minute long or 20 minutes long, represents a fully-formed artistic idea, then why does its length matter? The world, and even punk rock, has more 3:30 songs than we’ll ever need, and a lot of them could be just as effective if shortened. The age-old “always leave them wanting more” mantra applies here, too.)

The album is also profoundly sad. Barry Johnson, sounding more vocally confident than he ever has, hits every note with seeming ease, a stark contrast to Joyce Manor’s earlier work when he was more monotone or reaching depending on the song. Lyrically, there’s a lot of uncertainty. Though he sounds assured (if not an octave higher, like on “Christmas Card”), Johnson is portraying distinct vulnerability and varying degrees of self-loathing in his words certain to evoke those types of feelings we don’t often share out loud with other people, and struggle to even acknowledge within our own heads. “Falling in Love Again” in particular evokes this sort of worldview.

And, though the songs are fairly straightforward in tempo and composition, they also exhibit a lot of growth, showing that the Joyce Manor’s desire to experiment and subvert expectations has just moved inward, rather than completely dying. The keys that elevate “Falling in Love Again,” the noodly guitar riffs that surround “End of the Summer,” the tightly-wound power-pop of “Victoria,” the omnipresent jangle of “Heated Swimming Pool,” and other moments really giveNever Hungover Again a personality atypical of a punk record, one that’s moody without ever being overly brooding and, given its brevity, doesn’t leave enough time for that anyway.

Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else. - Leonardo da Vinci

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Mixtape Vol. 6: How Far?

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Mix series with a special treat from Odd Future’s The Internet today. Syd the Kyd and Matt Martians are redefining the term eclectic with this mix as the duo has put together a selection that links current club favorites such as Disclosure’s “Latch,” Katy B and Sampha’s “Play” with classic jams such as D’Angelo’s “Lady,” David Bowie’s “Fame” and James Brown’s “The Payback.” Aptly titled “Summer,” the piece also marks a historic moment for the band since it’s their first Ableton mix.

HYPETRAK Mix: The Internet - Summer (Tracklist)

Raleigh Ritchie - Stronger Than Ever (The Internet Remix)
Disclosure featuring Sam Smith - Latch
Katy B featuring Sampha - Play
Teedra Moses - Be Your Girl (Kaytranada Remix)
The Pharcyde - She Said (Jay Dee Remix)
ScHoolBoy Q - Collard Greens
Esperanza Spalding - Ponta De Areia
Skybourne featuring Big K.R.I.T. & Smoke DZA - Curren$y
D’Angelo - Lady
Mayor Hawthorne - Her Favorite Song
David Bowie - Fame
James Brown - The Payback
Stevie Wonder - Too High
Al B. Sure! - Nite And Day
Brandy - Movin’ On
YG featuring Drake - Who Do You Love
Dogg Pound - Cali Iz Active
De La Soul featuring Zhane - 4 More
Pharrell - Gush

ALBUM REVIEW: CONVERGE “ALL WE LOVE WE LEAVE BEHIND”
Converge present themselves as hardcore-punk ascetics, studio rats born to create brutal, convoluted maelstroms — and that’s about it. Some band members say they don’t pay attention to much music besides their own; others insist their purpose is to express, not entertain. And as for commerce, forget it: As lead singer Jacob Bannon recently put it, “Success, to me, is creating something that’s moving and fulfilling.”
It’s a simple, mature outlook from musical wizards who seem content to peek out from behind the curtain but never fully emerge. Which makes it difficult to be a fan of Converge, at least in the Beatlemania sense — in lieu of distinct extra-musical personalities, would you settle for limited-edition multicolored vinyl? But over the course of a two-decade career, they’ve inspired a rabid fan base, anyway, drawn to the inherent complexity of records like their latest, All We Love We Leave Behind.
The Massachusetts band’s eighth studio LP finds our heroes at their jazziest, a tendency foreshadowed early in their career, well before they dove deep into metal on 2001 touchstoneJane Doe. But don’t worry: Whether dialing down the distortion for opener “Aimless Arrow” or letting their fusion freak flags fly on the scattershot “Veins and Veils,” Converge simultaneously play hardcore smart enough to appeal to metalheads and metal base enough to appeal to the mosh-pit acrobats at hardcore shows.
The star this time out is guitarist and producer Kurt Ballou, who artfully, dare we saytastefully, embellishes every tune with brief, bracing filigrees of feedback and melodic bedlam. While many hardcore guitarists are content playing revved-up versions of the same blocky chords and boxy, deconstructed-Ramones riffs, Converge’s axeman claws at murky, eccentric patterns that paint a more intricate picture than what comes with the usual 1-2-3-4-go routine. It’s part of his DNA, exacerbated by the band’s far-reaching influences: Their taste in cover songs over the years has played up their alt-rock roots (the Cure, Depeche Mode), their metal proclivities (Black Sabbath, Entombed), and a few hardcore-punk favorites (Negative Approach, Black Flag).
Which explains the all the wild stuff that inspires All We Love's various guitargasms: Greg Ginn's damaged, free-jazz experimentalism on later Black Flag albums surfaces on “Trespasses,” which fuses Ballou's feedback to discordant blues scales. Nominal ballad “Coral Blue” boasts a moody, darkly understated atmosphere that still generates plenty of aggression — ultimately, it sounds like a very scary pop song. Echoes of power metal creep into the title cut with its driving, stream-of-consciousness riff, while the intro to “Sadness Come Home” is a bluesy, chopped-and-screwed reprise of the beloved chord-sliding fury that ends Jane Doe's “Concubine” (think of it as their “Country Honk”).
The only weak link here is Bannon’s lyrics, which tend toward the maudlin and over-conceptual: “I am that aimless arrow, lost from the very start / Violence without purpose, born of broken hearts.” Then, of course, there’s the cloyingly reductive album title (though it does earn points for antagonizing U2). But you’ll forget all about that by the time you get to the noisy, screechy “Empty on the Inside,” which seems to incorporate all those aforementioned touchstones at once — bluesy fills, feedback, a driving bass line from Nate Newton, soaring guitars, militaristic drums — to create the album’s most unsettling, hypnotic moment.
That Converge can dabble in so many styles and still inherently come out sounding like themselves is what makes All We Love work. And besides, there are enough tortured screams and catastrophic riffs strewn about this LP’s 38 minutes to carry fans another three years, until the boys conceive their next multicolored, limited-edition musical apocalypse. Maybe that’s all the personality they need.

ALBUM REVIEW: CONVERGE “ALL WE LOVE WE LEAVE BEHIND”

Converge present themselves as hardcore-punk ascetics, studio rats born to create brutal, convoluted maelstroms — and that’s about it. Some band members say they don’t pay attention to much music besides their own; others insist their purpose is to express, not entertain. And as for commerce, forget it: As lead singer Jacob Bannon recently put it, “Success, to me, is creating something that’s moving and fulfilling.”

It’s a simple, mature outlook from musical wizards who seem content to peek out from behind the curtain but never fully emerge. Which makes it difficult to be a fan of Converge, at least in the Beatlemania sense — in lieu of distinct extra-musical personalities, would you settle for limited-edition multicolored vinyl? But over the course of a two-decade career, they’ve inspired a rabid fan base, anyway, drawn to the inherent complexity of records like their latest, All We Love We Leave Behind.

The Massachusetts band’s eighth studio LP finds our heroes at their jazziest, a tendency foreshadowed early in their career, well before they dove deep into metal on 2001 touchstoneJane Doe. But don’t worry: Whether dialing down the distortion for opener “Aimless Arrow” or letting their fusion freak flags fly on the scattershot “Veins and Veils,” Converge simultaneously play hardcore smart enough to appeal to metalheads and metal base enough to appeal to the mosh-pit acrobats at hardcore shows.

The star this time out is guitarist and producer Kurt Ballou, who artfully, dare we saytastefully, embellishes every tune with brief, bracing filigrees of feedback and melodic bedlam. While many hardcore guitarists are content playing revved-up versions of the same blocky chords and boxy, deconstructed-Ramones riffs, Converge’s axeman claws at murky, eccentric patterns that paint a more intricate picture than what comes with the usual 1-2-3-4-go routine. It’s part of his DNA, exacerbated by the band’s far-reaching influences: Their taste in cover songs over the years has played up their alt-rock roots (the Cure, Depeche Mode), their metal proclivities (Black Sabbath, Entombed), and a few hardcore-punk favorites (Negative Approach, Black Flag).

Which explains the all the wild stuff that inspires All We Love's various guitargasms: Greg Ginn's damaged, free-jazz experimentalism on later Black Flag albums surfaces on “Trespasses,” which fuses Ballou's feedback to discordant blues scales. Nominal ballad “Coral Blue” boasts a moody, darkly understated atmosphere that still generates plenty of aggression — ultimately, it sounds like a very scary pop song. Echoes of power metal creep into the title cut with its driving, stream-of-consciousness riff, while the intro to “Sadness Come Home” is a bluesy, chopped-and-screwed reprise of the beloved chord-sliding fury that ends Jane Doe's “Concubine” (think of it as their “Country Honk”).

The only weak link here is Bannon’s lyrics, which tend toward the maudlin and over-conceptual: “I am that aimless arrow, lost from the very start / Violence without purpose, born of broken hearts.” Then, of course, there’s the cloyingly reductive album title (though it does earn points for antagonizing U2). But you’ll forget all about that by the time you get to the noisy, screechy “Empty on the Inside,” which seems to incorporate all those aforementioned touchstones at once — bluesy fills, feedback, a driving bass line from Nate Newton, soaring guitars, militaristic drums — to create the album’s most unsettling, hypnotic moment.

That Converge can dabble in so many styles and still inherently come out sounding like themselves is what makes All We Love work. And besides, there are enough tortured screams and catastrophic riffs strewn about this LP’s 38 minutes to carry fans another three years, until the boys conceive their next multicolored, limited-edition musical apocalypse. Maybe that’s all the personality they need.