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Ride Along! *
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  • JOY are a band whose stylistic agenda is very pure: they live to re-create the sound of some reefer-addled dude's record collection in 1972. And between the buzzy guitar heroics, the deep bubbling bass, and the flanged drum tracks, JOY not only match their obvious inspirations, they occasionally beat them at their own game. After drafting their statement of purpose with their 2014 debut, Under the Spell of JOY, the group is back and once again in powerful form. There isn't a massive degree of creative growth on JOY's second long-player, Ride Along!, but the band does sound notably tighter and hotter this time out. JOY's attack is no less heavy here, but the songs are a bit shorter and they get to the point with improved speed and precision. Zachary Oakley's guitar is full of flash and thunder, but he also riffs with a decisive sense of wah-wah-infused purpose. And the feisty bark of his vocals fits the songs like a tube sock. Justin Hulson's animated bass patterns fill their space beautifully, and new drummer Thomas DiBenedetto can hit hard while staying limber, rolling and tumbling without losing the backbeat. JOY's performances on Ride Along! are busy, but busy with deliberate focus, sending their collective noise-making skills down the highway like a biker gang looking for some scary fun. (They also had the good sense to bring along some like-minded pals for the trip. Parker Griggs of Radio Moscow and Brenden Deller of Sacri Monti join Oakley for additional guitar swagger, while Mario Rubalcaba from Earthless adds his percussion knowhow.) If Ride Along! isn't necessarily better than Under the Spell of JOY, at the very least it's just as good, and more ambitious too. JOY may prefer the sounds of the past to the present, but they also have enough skill to have a future in it. In short, Ride Along! rocks; listen loud and you'll like it. ~ Mark Deming
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