Now Hear This

Double Feature – The Joy Formidable & MUTEMATH

There’s this popular myth about people being either “left-brained” or “right-brained” – meaning you either tend to be logical/analytical and therefore good at things like math and science or you tend to be more creative and into things like literature and the arts.

This hemispherical way of categorizing people has some truth to it but I find most people are more like me…criss-cross brained.  I always found myself drawn to writing, obsessed with books and a natural karaoke performer.  But, at the same time I thrived in the sciences and have a nonstop curiosity for things that have to do with the natural world, space, especially the future and theoretical physics. Weird, I know.  There was, however, one looming enemy that always held me back – that left-brain bastard… Math.  I guess that’s why my double major in college of Biology and Theatre Arts only lasted one semester.  Despite my beefed up left-brain prowess, I just can’t tackle Mathematics.  I curse the day those ancient Babylonians and Egyptians created those mind-boggling concepts and honestly feel like if that one nugget of my brain had been turned on like the others…I could quite possibly be ruling the world right now. Oh well.

In honor of my great Nemesis, I thought I’d do a little double feature Now Hear This highlighting two great bands, both with ties to that most awful of school subjects.

The Joy Formidable is a Welsh trio fronted by Ritzy Bryan (great name) who’s mighty vocals are at once airy and girly while being powerful and dark.  Their sound is this great revival of  ’90s alt-rock with a modern twist and I’ve been enjoying their hazy, catchy jams since they put out the stellar EP A Balloon Called Moaning in early 2010.  They took the best tracks from that record, added some refinement and a few more standout songs and released their full length debut The Big Roar in January.  One of those added songs is ‘A Heavy Abacus’ – a grand anthem that’s been making the alt-rock radio and blog rounds recently and one that I can’t stop listening to.  Not only is it a pounding, relentlessly driving jam that also lilts and sways…Ritzy goes on to sing about an, “abacus haunting me” and despite my penchant towards anti-math sentiments, you just gotta love a band that references one of the world’s first calculating tools as the main lyric and title of a breakout song.

See Also: ‘Whirring’ ‘Austere’ and ‘The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade’

The next band has a more obvious link being that they are named MUTEMATH (yes, in all caps and yes in one word).  I’ve been into this electro alt-rock collaboration of four friends from New Orleans since their 2006 self-titled debut.  That record seemed to have one hit after another and even garned them enough attention to warrant them a spot on that most coveted of modern-day music touching stones…The Twilight soundtrack.  Having their song ‘Spotlight’ featured in a scene with Bella and Edward sent them into a new level of awareness thanks to all the Twi-Tweens who swoon for that sort of thing and gobbled up that soundtrack in record numbers. Even though they blatantly put the M-word right into their band name, I still love these guys.

That love was expanded ten-fold after seeing them play live for the first time last year which turned out to be one of the most spontaneous, energetic, raw and downright bad-ass rock shows I’ve ever seen.  Frontman and sometimes Keytar-ist Paul Meany is both charismatic and approachable and the band is super tight, but the stand-out star and, no joke, one of the most memorable performers I have ever laid eyes on is their drummer, Darren King.  This man lit it up like it was the last show he was ever going to play in his life…as soon as he walked on stage he took a giant pair of old-school ’70s headphones (his outer-ear monitors, apparently) and duct taped them to his head!

After that it was the Darren show, undeniably.  His fury on this mini drum kit he plays was palpable and at the end of the show he basically set about destroying his instruments with his bare hands and was so into his own destruction didn’t even notice the rest of the band had left the stage and then had to be escorted off.  It was insane…and insanely awesome.  Their new album, Odd Soul was self-produced, written and recorded mostly in Meany’s house – with a distinct home-grown sound that is felt throughout the record as the band emerges, albeit no longer with their original guitarist, a more mature and honed-in group.  Still as eclectic and electric as ever, the single ‘Blood Pressure’ is a perfect example of this new MUTEMATH and something I think you guys should definitely check out.

See Also: ‘Chaos’ ‘Plan B’ ‘Typical’ and ‘Allies’

2 rad bands + new music to groove to = the only kind of math I understand.

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