ALBUM REVIEW: Mt. Joy hits indie-folk gold on self-titled debut

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I first caught Los Angeles-based, Philadelphia-bred Mt. Joy at Bonnaroo last year, on one of the smallest stages the Tennessee camping festival has to offer. The band had the crowd clapping and stomping along to their set, very indicative of the kind of enthusiasm their debut record will generate.

The five-piece drop their self-titled debut full-length record Friday, March 2 via Dualtone (you can stream it now via NPR First Listen). They share a label with acts like The Lumineers and Shakey Graves — two acts that Mt. Joy would fit right alongside on a bill. On their debut record, Mt. Joy scratch that indie-folk itch that has exploded over the last decade with acts like Mumford & Sons, Of Monsters and Men, and Mt. Joy tour mates The Head and The Heart penning big acoustic-heavy hits.

Mt. Joy lead track “I’m Your Wreck” has a simple but fun guitar riff and foot-stomping rhythm that builds nicely.

Mt. Joy guitarist and lead singer Matt Quinn has the same scratchy quality to his voice of Cold War Kids lead singer Nathan Willett, but with a clearer falsetto. Mt. Joy also has that dual-vocalist strength working to their favor as fellow guitarist Sam Cooper possesses strong vocals that feature as a nice complement to Quinn’s — like on the heartfelt chorus of the album’s third track “Silver Lining”.

The pacing of the album is nice, perfect for soundtracking a road trip up the coast. My favorite track of the record is “Sheep”, a loungey-vibed track that Quinn stretches his vocals on. It’s from their successful EP from last year and I recall how well it was received by that Bonnaroo crowd last year. “Wasted, in the tangles of time / And my baby, is she the only one left when it’s dire?” is such a great line.

Quinn’s falsetto matches the sexy lead guitar on “Julia” magically. “Astrovan” has a sort-of O.A.R. feel to it, and “Cardinal” is very reminiscent of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros at their best. Single “Jenny Jenkins” is one of the standout folk ballads, you can feel Quinn’s emotion as he sings each word. There isn’t a skippable track of the 13 featured on the album.

The band will be very busy supporting the album. They have a show at the YouTube Space LA with Aloe Blacc tomorrow (you can livestream here at 4 PM) and a sold-out gig at the Moroccan Lounge on Thursday, March 8. They’re also supporting The Head and The Heart and GROUPLOVE at the Observatory on May 23 and the Fox Theater in Pomona on March 24.  Can’t make it? They’ll be on the festival circuit pretty heavy, hitting Innings Fest, Shaky Knees, and BottleRock Napa this spring.

Get your copy of Mt. Joy’s Mt. Joy here.

The Head And The Heart, GROUPLOVE team up for two May shows