This week, taste-making music blogs like Pitchfork and Consequence of Sound reported their top 50 albums of 2011. I'm always curious to read through these lists, although I never have the desire or capacity to verify most of the releases. As I perused this year's rankings -- which I often disagree with, even if CoS was a little more "on" than Pitchfork this year -- I was reminded of a tweet I stumbled across back in August:
in my old age, my gripes with "the kids" isn't that their music is too loud or obnoxious, it's that their music is too safe and boring.— brian cook (@bbcbubblegutz) August 11, 2011
I don't know this Brian Cook guy -- a musician, I believe -- but he couldn't have voiced my thoughts on the state of modern music any better. (Also, how awesome is Twitter's new "Embed this Tweet" function?) It's no surprise then that my favorite album from 2011 is neither safe nor boring.
The Big Roar by The Joy Formidable
One Tuesday morning last April my buddy Buster sent me a text, "Are you going to The Joy Formidable show tonight?" Having only heard of them I hopped on Grooveshark (I believe this was the pre-Spotify era) and listened to a couple tracks from the The Big Roar. I liked it. I replied to Buster, "Count me in."
OK, I know I'm not an old man but sometimes I feel one. I miss the days when I had the wherewithal and vitality to go see a band relatively unknown to me, and on a "school night," as older folk are prone to say. Going to see The Joy Formidable that evening hearkened back to my high school days when the only thing stopping me from going to just any old show was, well, nothing.
That night ended up being one of the best on-a-whim shows I've been to in recent memory (and not because they've been fewer than I'd like). At a visit to the Joy Formidable merch table, I happily surrendered the cash to purchase The Big Roar and now, with new ears, comparing the album to the band's, um, truly formidable live performance, I discovered one of those rare records nearly capable of what studio albums can only really attempt, capturing the energy of a live performance.
This video is from a year and a half ago so they're a little unpolished and Ritzy sings a bit flat at times but hey, that's rock and roll.
There aren't too many bands out there that mix rock, punk and pop as well as The Joy Formidable, and even fewer doing so with the economy of a three member line-up. They're destined for a bright future, and by extension, so is rock and roll:
Every time I listen to @joyformidable my faith in the future of Rock is restored— Buster Heine (@bst3r) November 30, 2011