Blades of Joy’s debut LP is a stunning and seamless distillation of waiting for the nighttime; waiting for the sun to go dim enough to stare at, for the surreal and perplexing MUNI-OWL schedule to take over the bus routes, for finally feeling lost and lonely at home in a city that insists on exposing your private world. Pop for poets, rock for reality. How good this music is remains one of San Francisco’s most closely-guarded secrets, but talk to the right people and you’ll find out what’s been causing murmurs of adoration and envy at secretive live appearances from 3am electrified freakouts on Ocean Beach to intimate sessions in the backroom of the Tenderloin’s famous Aunt Charlie’s Lounge. In this recording, captured in a few 2016-2017 dips into Oakland’s Secret Bathroom studios, we can hear Blades of Joy (which include members of expansive San Francisco groups such as SWANOX and DISSOLVE) in their traditional four piece lineup, though the seven songs herein belie a group of songwriters willing to stretch out and breathe in any configuration or style.
In contemporary Bay Area fashion, the Blades do wear some influences on their sleeves: listen for guitar lines that pull threads from the spooky and spectral coats of the DURUTTI COLUMN and FELT, pull reels of tape from the wistful Tascam of ROY MONTGOMERY in his East Village years, pull a gin-soaked paper towel out of the Levi’s jacket of the RED HOUSE [CHILI] PAINTERS. Vocals that channel the sublime clarity of KENDRA SMITH or BARBARA MANNING. A real rock band rhythm section capable of riding a cosmic groove guaranteed to delight Slumberland/Teenbeat aficionados and deadheads alike on jaw-dropping A-siders like “Inside Out” and leading the band through RAIN PARADE cadences on “Be Kind”, dropping out and letting the sounds of the ocean take over on “Finally High”. They do it all. Blades of Joy ride the crest of a new wave of bands doing the damn thing in beautiful San Francisco; despite what you’ve heard, it is a good time to be here. Please accept our humble invitation to listen for the reason why.