Aug. 5 2014 06:08 PM

Psych-rockers' latest is big on riffs and fuzz effects

JOY album cover

JOY
Under the Spell of JOY (Tee Pee)

San Diego can lay claim to being the birthplace of one of the most iconic bands of the acid-rock era: Iron Butterfly. But there's arguably never been a more psychedelic period in San Diego music history than today. 

I don't necessarily mean that people are taking more drugs; in fact, the region's biggest psych-rock band, Earthless, told Spin last year that they just drink a lot of coffee. But there's a certain disorientation that's been seeping into local music, be it through the hazy post-punk of Tropical Popsicle and Barbarian or in the lava-lamp fuzz of Wild Wild Wets, who recently launched the San Diego Freak Out in the service of bringing purveyors of trippy tunes together on one stage.

And then there's JOY. More than simply an indie-rock band with psychedelic elements, JOY have a dense, freewheeling sound that harks back to the early-'70s era of heavy psych. There's more than a trace of Blue Cheer or Flower Travellin' Band in their fat layers of distortion, bluesy melodies and instrumental dazzle. This music doesn't just take the listener to strange and unfamiliar places—it straight-up rocks the fuck out.

On Under the Spell of JOY—the band's first for Tee Pee Records—the average song length is between six and seven minutes, and each song features some combination of effects-treated vocals, meaty riffs and wild soloing. If you're averse to indulging in some hot-dog guitar-wizard showmanship, then JOY probably isn't for you. But for those who can't get enough of the sound of Big Muff distortion coming through vintage Orange amps, this album is an embarrassment of riches. 

Under the Spell is loaded with highlights, from the upbeat shuffle of "One More Time" to the slower and more sinister dirge of "Evil." And when Zach Oakley fires up his wah-wah on "Driving Me Insane," the group is more Funkadelic than Grand Funk, which is just fine by me. Even when they appear in danger of getting sucked into a vortex of impossibly acrobatic fretwork, their instrumental dazzle rarely grows stale or redundant. There's a good reason for that; JOY add fiery solos to already good songs, and not the other way around.

Email jefft@sdcitybeat.com or follow him at @1000TimesJeff

Calendar

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  • Anthony Bernal and Chris Ward, who are vying to replace Todd Gloria on the San Diego City Council, will discuss urban issues, such as parking, homelessness and new developments
  • The new exhibition designed by Dave Ghilarducci is made from hundreds of rolls of packing tape and bound together by layers of plastic shrink-wrap. Visitors can navigate their way through cocoon-like passageways...
  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Presented by Pacific Arts Movement, the sixth annual mini film fest features 14 film programs from 10 countries that includes everything from docs to romantic tearjerkers. See website for full lineup and...
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  • So Say We All's monthly storytelling night features stories about those jobs we took because we had to take a job. Featured readers include Allison Gauss, Annmarie Houghtailing, Cecile Estelle, and more
  • Artists from the all-abstracts group show will talk about their work and techniques. Artists include Edwin Nutting, Danielle Nelisse, Leah Pantea, Lenore Simon, and more
See all events on Thursday, Apr 28