I was first turned onto The Joy Formidable when I was making my annual preparations for the Iceland Airwaves festival, which took place a few weeks ago in Reykjavík. The festival website has the entire lineup (which this year it boasted a total in the neighborhood of 250 acts playing over the 5 nights) with info/bios/mp3s/links/etc on its website weeks prior to the event, to give folks like me ample time to get to know the artists and compile a hit list for who I want to interview and check out. Side note: that’s the beauty of Iceland Airwaves…the percentage of the artists that I recognize and know is only a certain amount, and I spend a lot of time paying attention to a lot of music. The rest of the lineup is full of wonderful surprises and your “new favorite band”, as the organizers have built a decade-long reputation for finding and featuring artists first.
The Joy Formidable was one of those acts for me. In the weeks leading up to departure, I started getting a lot of calls and emails about them from music industry folks letting me know that they should be on my priority list. The band is Ritzy Bryan (lead vocals/guitar), Rhydian Dafydd (bass/backing vocals) and Matt Thomas (drums), and they are a Welsh-bred/London-dwelling group that plays big, layered indie rock. Nearly every track of their debut release (an 8-song mini album) ‘A Balloon Called Moaning’ is awash with guitars and driving melodies. It’s a bit of a wonder that a sound this huge was recorded in the bedroom of Ritzy and Rhydian (yes, they’re a couple) and not in an elaborate multi-tracking recording studio.
Ritzy’s voice manages to soar over all of this pleasing noise while she wails away on her guitar, and when put all together it really works.
If you like music that is both as catchy and complicated as Arcade Fire, or the distortion-filled UK guitar rock (Chapterhouse, Catherine Wheel, Lush) of the 90’s, you’d probably quite enjoy The Joy Formidable.
Regretfully, I don’t have photos for you from the band’s Iceland performance as I was only able to catch a couple of songs in a small venue that was packed so tight, I never would have made it to the front of the stage with my camera. Suffice to say, the two songs that I did see, coupled with not being able to put the record down over the past few weeks means that I won’t miss them tonight.
They play at Schubas, and tickets are a cheap $10 now ($12 at the door), and you can get them here.
Be sure to be there on time, because opening up is the highly buzzed-about New York group The Dig.
Here’s a couple of great remixes that I’ve been spinning at my dj gigs around town lately, and videos for two of the singles from ‘A Balloon Called Moaning’:
The Joy Formidable – Whirring (Brahms remix)
The Joy Formidable – I Don’t Want To See You Like This (Grouplove remix)
The Joy Formidable, TONIGHT, 9th November, Schubas, 8pm, $10