West Coast modern rockers Mt. Joy are best known for their easygoing tunes rooted in 70s folk and Americana. So seeing the band open their NonCOMM set bathed in deep blue and purple lights to a dramatic swell of atmospheric synthesizers and a spectral, tremolo-plucked ukulele was a minor curveball. Were we inexplicably transported to this time last year when Lo Moon brought their voluminous take on 80s keyboard gloss to the public radio masses on the very same stage?
Nah, never fear. As it turned out, Mt. Joy is still very much Mt. Joy, and as the live rendition of “Dirty Love” gave way to “Jenny Jenkins” and its various Lumineers-isms — a chanty wordless chorus, a foot-tapping beat, a plaintive vocal melody — it is clear that, to whatever extent this band embraces vibe, it’s rooted in pop first and foremost.
“Astrovan” falls solidly in the midtempobreezyjams category, and was guided by a stratospheric guitar freakout into the head-bobbing “Bigfoot.” Both seemed rooted in surreal non sequitur, while “Sheep” found Mt. Joy trying their hand at being topical, with references to Baltimore, the American flag, and the divided state of the world in 2018.
Mt. Joy’s self-titled debut album is out now Dualtone Records; check out photos from their performance down below, along with the setlist.
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