Sun Apr 7
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With over 3 million streams on their song “Astrovan”, Mt Joy has been rising in the indie folk scene for the past couple years. Their latest release, their self-titled album, has found equal success.Buy Tickets
With over 3 million streams on their song “Astrovan”, Mt Joy has been rising in the indie folk scene for the past couple years. Their latest release, their self-titled album, has found equal success.
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Genre: alternative / indie
Ticket Price: $20 advanced & day of show/ Indigo Grill dinner for 2 + show package $86 (online only — Limited Availability)
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"These dreams are more than paper things," sings Matt Quinn on Mt. Joy's infectious folk-rocker "Astrovan," a warm, yearning bit of road-trip philosophy that posits the existence of a Deadhead Jesus cruising the dusty highways of the countryside, nursing a roach on his way to only He knows where. It's an auspicious line from a band predicated on the revival of teenage dreams.
Mt. Joy started off as a rekindling of shared musical ambitions between Philadelphia high school friends Matt Quinn (vocals, guitar) and Sam Cooper (guitar). Reunited in Los Angeles thanks to the ebbs and flows of adult life, the pair met multi-instrumentalist Michael Byrnes through a Craigslist ad. They named themselves Mt. Joy as an ode to a mountain in Valley Forge National Park near Sam's childhood home, and together, with Byrnes' roommate Caleb Nelson producing, they recorded three songs and sent them out into the world, hoping for the best. "I knew I still wanted to write songs, but the realities of life made that dream seem pretty impossible," Quinn says.
Much to the band's amazement, "Astrovan" accomplished the impossible. Without initial promotion or fanfare, the song took off on Spotify, racking up 5 million streams to date. "The irony of 'Astrovan' was that song was really about being stuck in a life and wanting to have the opportunity to pursue a dream, and in an instant it gave us that opportunity. " Quinn says. Mt. Joy quickly transitioned from a part-time calling into a full-fledged band rounded out by Byrnes on bass, Sotiris Eliopoulos on drums and Jackie Miclau on keyboard.
Come 2017, Mt. Joy hit the road, and hit it hard: They played tour dates alongside the likes of The Shins, The Head and The Heart, The Lone Bellow, and Whitney, and popped up at some of the summer's biggest festivals, including Bonnaroo, Newport Folk Festival, Lollapalooza and Made In America. "We were put on some big shows very quickly," Quinn says. "The growth for us has been exponential - we've really just become a family that's constantly pushing each other and the live show to be great." They eventually caught the attention of Dualtone Records and began work on their debut album.
Steeped in folk-rock tradition and powered by the intuitive creative connection between Quinn and Cooper, the songs on 'Mt. Joy' depict Quinn wrestling with his own conscience, where the mundane and the fantastic collide as he processes tragedy, society, and love. Opener "I'm Your Wreck" describes "monsters in (the) closet, using up the wi-fi" as it cycles from its desperate, spiraling verses to its swinging, stubbornly optimistic coda, while the loping, plaintive chords of "Younger Days" meditate on a frayed psyche and the fear of choosing the wrong path. "Sheep," with its collapsing, hoarse-voiced cry of "freedom was paid in blood," is a post-Trump salvo on the responsibilities of the fortunate to overcome political and social despondency. And on "Silver Lining," perhaps the album's brightest moment, Quinn surveys the damage of hard drugs and the vicious cycle of addiction, as the song's melancholic sentiment kicks into its fervid, defiant chorus, all shout-along vocals and trilling guitars.
Taken together, the self titled 'Mt. Joy' LP is a startlingly open document, wracked with the anxieties and fears that come just as life seems to start working out. It's a natural reaction from a wary band like Mt. Joy - the result of a sort of professional vertigo, as they've gone from virtual unknowns to hot young commodity in little over a year. But there's a sense of hope underlying everything, girded by the fact that the Mt. Joy LP is an impressive, honest portrayal of a young band facing that moment where dreams become reality, and finding beauty in the exhilarating uncertainty of it all.
It’s that collision of beauty and imperfection, of hope and human frailty that defines Wilderado’s gorgeous new EP, ‘Favors.’ Recorded with production mastermind Phil Ek (Father John Misty, Fleet Foxes), the collection ushers in a new era for the Tulsa rockers as their already-epic sound pushes into more nuanced and mature territory than ever before. An arresting confluence of soaring melodies, lush harmonies, and driving indie rock, ‘Favors’ is the band’s most collaborative work yet, bearing the distinctive writing influence and unique sonic sensibilities of all four members (lead singer/guitarist Max Rainer, bassist/vocalist Colton Dearing, guitarist/vocalist Tyler Wimpee, and drummer Justin Kila).
The group released a pair of EPs—‘Misty Shrub’ and ‘Latigo’—in 2016 and a collection of singles in 2017 to widespread critical acclaim, with Consequence of Sound hailing the music as “glorious” and Paste lauding its “South-Central Americana-meets-Laurel Canyon vibe.” Praise across the pond was similarly effusive, with NME highlighting the band’s “impressive harmonies” and Clash falling for their “natural grace.” The songs racked up more than 15 million streams on Spotify and helped Wilderado earn festival performances from Bonnaroo to Sasquatch in addition to dates with Band of Horses, Lindsey Buckingham & Christine McVie, Judah & The Lion, and more.
When it came time to cut ‘Favors,’ Rainer and his bandmates headed north for nearly two weeks of intensive recording sessions at a pair of Seattle’s most storied studios: Avast!, which has played host to Death Cab For Cutie and The Shins among others, and Hall of Justice, which in its various iterations has welcomed the likes of Nirvana and Sleater Kinney. In both studios, Ek helped the band bring their signature sound to new heights, capturing all the grandeur and drama of their arrangements without sacrificing any of the grit or muscle behind it.
“We wanted big guitars, big cymbals, big drums, big vocals, but we still wanted it to come across pretty,” explains Rainer. “We were always looking for opportunities to play chords with open strings so we could get that jangly, single coil sound where the amp is being pushed but it hasn’t started to distort yet. Phil would have six or seven mics set up on a single amp so he could fade between all of them to get that guitar sound just right.”
Beyond his technical prowess, Ek also proved to be a master of harnessing the band’s raw emotional power, pressing them to dig deeper in the studio than ever before and drawing out the kind of unforgettable, potent performances that raise the hairs on the back of your neck.
“It was the first time I had somebody really push me,” reflects Rainer. “He had so much advice, and it was such a great combination of being out of my comfort zone while still feeling like he was leading us in a safe direction.”
One listen to ‘Favors’ and the band’s remarkable growth is immediately apparent. The EP opens with slow-and-steady build of ‘You Don’t Love Me,” a candid slice of self-reflection that sets the stage perfectly for a collection unafraid to take a critical look in the mirror, juxtaposing magnificent musical arrangements with lacerating lyrics and a heartrending delivery. The explosive “Siren” finds Rainer tackling an existential crisis of faith and doubt, while the hypnotic title track (produced by frequent Sufjan Stevens collaborator James McAlister) draws inspiration from the hurt and fear that underlie our divided political climate, and the infectious “Sorrow” brings it all back to the importance of listening as a pathway to personal progress.
“There’s no lesson you can’t learn when you listen first,” Rainer explains. “A huge part of listening is understanding that you’re flawed, but that doesn’t mean you’re worthless. There’s beauty in that, which I hope comes across in the music.”
Indeed, that beauty is the EP’s hallmark: the beauty of radical honesty, the beauty of self-actualization, the beauty of metamorphosis. Ultimately, the music’s emphasis on reflection isn’t about judgment at all, but rather the growth that comes from turning weakness into strength. In that sense, ‘Favors’ is the sound of a band pushing their boundaries beyond what was previously possible in order to fully become themselves.
“We wanted to make something that truly defined us,” concludes Rainer. “Who knows what the future holds, but right now, this is the sound of Wilderado.”