Courtesy of The Luminary Center For The Arts

Coming Up For Air: The Joy Formidable @ The Luminary April 22nd

by Justin Price

There’s a section of Willott Road (Saint Peters, MO between Spencer and Jungermann) that served as a great release for the elephantine wave of angst, anxiety, and energy not uncommon in most Midwestern teenagers. This stretch of road is a long descent, followed by a quick ascent, that seems to be planned, zoned, and paved for the sole purpose to drive at alarming speeds, windows down, blasting your favorite song of all time (a.k.a that millisecond). In preparation to drive this portion of road, I approached selecting music for the drive with the furrowed-brow determination of a film composer scoring a climatic scene. The ebb and flow of the chosen track had to match the euphoric rush of spring air racing through my vehicle. It could be the Pumpkins, JJ72, Blur, or any other band of my choosing, but they had to have one thing in common: The track had to rage.

The Joy Formidable is a band seemingly tailor-made for such a stretch of road: Swift, loud, excitable, and irresistible. Not one ounce of their collective blood, sweat, or tears are spared  in their method of coaxing  The Big Roar, their debut album. One moment they’re building intricate layers of beautiful melody, ethereal vocal harmonies, and interlocking instrumental contributions, and the next… they’re picking, slashing, bashing, ripping, shredding, slamming, and destroying their instruments, which are now a heaping mass that serves as the base of the mushroom cloud of hiss choking your lungs of all oxygen. There’s nothing left but an everlasting buzz where your brain, now splattered on the pavement, used to be. Roar is a deceptive album, though. About 35 minutes deep, just when you think you’re coming up for air on the track “Marayuma”, “Cradle” emerges from the depths to wrap it’s tentacles around your throat, dragging you back down miles into the black. You’re not going to survive this one, friend. You’re going to be pummeled black and bruised from the sweet, voracious bliss, which all culminates with the brilliant closing track (which, just a few years ago,was an equally brilliant opening track on A Balloon Called Moaning) “The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade”. There’s no doubt in my mind that some preteen, who is just learning to play guitar, is going to buy The Big Roar and say, ‘How do I get this thing to sound like that?!‘. It’s bands like The Joy Formidable, with their unbelievably addictive songwriting and fearless sense of exploration, that lay the groundwork for popular music to go further, louder, and bigger.

As far as our peers are concerned, the real marrow of pleasure of The Joy Formidable is in live performance. Their reputation in this field is staggering, so it would be costly to miss their show at such a venerable venue as The Luminary. If you’re still on the fence on whether or not you can attend: Pick up the record at your nearest record store, and head out to Saint Peters for a mid-day drive. I’m sure that once the sonic blast from the tattered Stratocasters hits the wind, you’ll be on your the way to join us April 22nd. I’ll see you there.

Let them know you’re coming:

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