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The Deli Philly's July Record of the Month: You're So Smart - Joy Riding

Part pop punk, part emo revival - Joy Riding's debut full-length, You're So Smart, is a suitable pick-me-up for the summer/life, in general. Released last month by Black Rd Records, the band’s 10-track slew of anthems will most definitely make you nostalgic for indie greats like Hey Mercedes and Saves the Day, while still managing to be inventive.

The cynical romantics of the album's opener, much like Brand New's "Mixtape" or Weezer's problematic yet beloved "El Scorcho," couple disdain with unfettered feelings and tangible hope. A more tempered musing on longing than what Joy Riding’s predecessors offered in the early aughts, “Golden” is frank but endearing, two elements which make the track memorable long before its end. “Suzie Lynn” starts with buzzing notes and finessed reverb, evolving quickly into an ode for a hesitant sweetheart. Reminiscent of Relient K at their best or Kenny Vasoli circa 2002, You’re So Smart’s second track is brooding, lush, and self-aware, offering its audience a vivid portrait of plausible intimacy before its frenzied start or inevitable demise which is quickly followed by the synth filled thrill of “Different Shapes.” Tastefully retro and awash in guitar, shimmering cymbals, and a New Wave worthy backbeat, Joy Riding’s third offering is difficult not to love. When lead vocalist Joseph Ryans croons, “You fall in love every single day/You’ve got a lot of things you want to say to me,” it feels like an invitation to wear your heart on your sleeve. The album's title track is a sentimental yet satisfying ballad bound to bring to mind early cuts by The Get Up Kids or Copeland. Perhaps a bit more jaded than “Different Shapes” and “Suzie Lynn,” “You’re So Smart” excavates the existential root of desire with lines like - “They say love, it never becomes fun/until you swallow every bitter pill and let it go to hell” and by asking “Are we just too far gone?”

“Cool Band” examines the difference between authenticity and pretension, along with the pitfalls of curating one’s personal pain for the sake of an audience. The sweeping riffs and textured vocals of “For Jessica” are filled with urgency and a latent promise of autonomy, which is fully realized mid-song, when Ryans sings, “You just left him for dead… You just left and laughed him off.” However, with “For Jessica,” the band celebrates the way that distance can lead to closure and a fresh start in the wake of a romance’s end, while the electronic bleep and heartwarming chords of “Hail Mary” will make you either think about the bae that got away or the bae you're currently with. It’s a fervent prayer for lovers who believe in second chances. Like a less dreary rendition of Death Cab For Cutie’s “Title Track,” the following track, “Tarrytown,” makes the most of atmosphere with the staccato click of drum sticks and subtle snare. It’s similarly cinematic, offering itself as a ready-made soundtrack for drives at dusk or boozy nights spent willingly or unwillingly alone. The song’s narrative is familiar yet hopeful in a believably bearable way. Although not as optimistic as the preceding track, “Marie & Me” is admirably brazen and melodic. Between astute observations and demands, its narrator highlights the benefits of boundaries and letting things go, which are two of the many themes that bleed into the album’s finale, “Grad School,” a well-chosen end to a nearly faultless album. You’re So Smart’s closer is a meditation on friendship, transitions, and endings. Like an audible embodiment of memento mori, “Grad School” urges listeners that “You can’t win if you don’t try.”

From start to finish, Joy Riding’s LP is an introspective celebration of intimacy, new beginnings, and the psyche’s shortcomings without melodrama or overt misogyny. One can only wonder how pop punk and emo would have evolved the first time around if more bands were as earnest as this. - Dianca London

Strawberry Runners bring dreamy, raw pop to the Silent Barn 07.03

There’s a certain overarching sweetness that consumes the Denver, New York based Strawberry Runners’ EP Hatcher Creek, but a close listen will reveal a far more complicated record. The pop-driven arrangements and saccharine melodies support lyrics filled with darkness. In the title track (streaming below), Emi Night's lush vocals share an unfiltered look at childhood memories (“My dad keeps us up at night / And he kicks us hard when we try to hide / And my brother cries and I hold him close.”) The juxtaposition of the bouncy song with this kind of raw content conjures up a conflicting listening experience that's at once uplifting and upsetting. The Strawberry Runners will be playing at the Silent Barn tonight (July 3rd), and then leave for a brief Northeast tour. - Lilly Milman

PREMIERE: On Drugs - "Chain Smoke"

 "Hi mom, I'm on drugs." 

This is a sentiment that mothers of yesteryear would've shed a few tears over, but modern ones are probably expecting to hear it at some point or another. We're all on drugs. Drinking, smoking and pill popping are a common modus operandi for the current millenial generation battling with severe depression, anxiety, confusion and a distrust for the world around them. There's also general struggle with self confidence among modern youth. Laid back trio On Drugs have figured out a way to express all of this is an enjoyable, easy-on-the-ears package. That package is their newest song and video called "Chain Smoke."

Basically like a contemporary take on the old Zoloft commercials, the video for "Chain Smoke" displays sadness masked by cute animation. As "You don't really care about me/You're just a pseudo human being" echoes, a lonely introspection rushes over the cartoon character's face. That feeling resonates with the viewer as "I'm gonna chain smoke cigarettes/I'm gonna binge drink my 40/I'm gonna get high with all your pets/They don't ask me questions" goes on to be sang. This is probably one of the most relatable lines of the summertime and we're just getting started.

"Chain Smoke" comes off of On Drugs' upcoming debut full length Stay Yuck on Postmark Records. Catch them next week at Dante's with Malt Lizard and Hands In, or at their record release show later this month with Fire Nuns, Nick Normal and Donkey Lips

Mood Music: Brown Calculus - "Self Care"

YGB, our local family and community celebrating everything that is creative, beautiful and black, is back with another live showcase takeover. In about an hour, YGB is assembling at Doug Fir for sets from some of the town's best in hip hop, r&b and soul. Headlining tonight is the spiritual, intergalactic jazziness of duo Brown Calculus, so we had to share a track to elevate the mood before the show.

A term that seems to mean more and more lately, "Self Care" is the type of track that you just can't help but vibe to. The combination of the smooth-like-butter voice and flow of vocalist Brown Alice with the chill instrumental production created by Brown Calvin make it an ideal song for a warm, summer evening.

Expect some rhymes from Karma Rivera, the soulful sounds of Soot Uros and DJ Lemar LeRoy spinning as well. 

Secret Colours premieres single 'Save Me,' + celebrates LP release at Martyrs' on 07.15

Friday July 7th, Chicago’s Secret Colours will be releasing their fourth album, titled Dream Dream. Drawing from British sounds (a clue indicated in their name) the band combines a diverse amount of indie, garage, pop, and psychedelia that makes their material energetic, progressive, yet nostalgic. Single “Save Me,” in particular, does just that; their tenth track on the album launches towards an atmosphere that feels much like classic rock, but then crosses over towards a spacier, indie pop sound with an intriguing shift between past and modern styles. Be sure to check out the upcoming LP, as well as a release show the following week in their hometown of Chicago, at Martyrs’, on July 15th. - Pearse Devlin


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