Acclaimed Californian band Joyce Manor – Barry Johnson (vocals and guitar), Chase Knobbe (guitar), Jeff Enzor (drums), and Matt Ebert (bass) – have released their anticipated new album Cody, via Epitaph. It is the follow-up to the band’s 2014’s critically-lauded record Never Hungover Again.
While the band’s Epitaph debut Never Hungover Again was recorded in a mere ten days, Cody is the result of two months in the studio with renowned producer Rob Schnapf, credited on classics by Elliot Smith, Guided By Voices, Saves The Day and Rancid among others. As the band’s guitarist and singer Barry Johnson explains, “It was the first time we really used the studio to our advantage. I felt like I could get a better grasp on what we could do. We always recorded like a punk band—go in and lay ‘em down! Just get good takes! And this time we tried a lot more.” The result is a record that dares to be humble, intimate and unapologetically human. Cody is the album where the band moves past simple pop and punk. It’s a moment for clarity and creative renewal. Without losing any of the emotional power fans love, the band is defiantly looking towards the future.
For their sixth album, garbage-pop veterans AJJ chose to reinforce their strengths and leave any limp frivolities behind. They reconvened with producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Xiu Xiu, Chelsea Wolfe), who oversaw 2014’s sonically expansive Christmas Island, but recorded and mixed the album in a mere nine days, having arranged most of the songs during tour sound checks and down-time in the van. This made for a confident stride into more elaborate arrangements and wider dynamics while staying just as dour. They also opted, amid some sensation, for the simplified band acronym (previously Andrew Jackson Jihad). Singer Sean Bonnette told The A.V. Club that, among many reasons, the change cleared a space for new imagery and allowed their music to define them, not their band name.
As a result, their new album, The Bible 2, is their most ambitious and assured collection of scuzzy punk screeds, employing even more production heft while sparing none of the vulnerability. The album’s mantra is placed right at the center: “No More Shame, No More Fear, No More Dread”. The Bible 2 finds the band choosing intimacy over isolation, gravity over the vacuum, the stage instead of the scene. The album is also an examination of boyhood from an adult distance, putting some of its tumult and pain to rest.
It’s also the most impressive work of Bonnette’s, who has honed his confessional lyrical prowess into a punk inflected mire of Trent Reznor’s unrestrained turmoil, Jamie Stewart’s profane gallows humor and a touch of David Berman’s surreal quotidian imagery.