edwerd? – Joy Explosion

Joy Explosion

Check out that cover: dancing skeletons and butterflies and rainbows. Hasn’t that been done before, back in the 60s, in the psychedelic era of the Grateful Dead and similar bands? Maybe the boys in edwerd? know a little something about those days. After all, they describe themselves as “two guys in their 40s surviving in a 20-something emo world.”
edwerd? is Mike Argeanas and Tom Hughes, and these guys do give you the sense that their goal in life is to dig up the grave of rock and drag its rusty skeletal bones back into some semblance of grooving. The most important thing about this release is to overlook the fact that every song is drenched in so much reverb your teeth shake. Get by the echoed vocals and reverbed guitars, and listen to the guitar solos, the simple but effective keyboard lines, the rocking vocals, and suddenly you’ll realize that these guys may be in their 40s, but they still know how to jam.
The album starts off with one of its better tracks, the Kinks-like rock of “Rock Star,” as Argeanas sings repeatedly, “You must be a rock star,” drawing out that last syllable before breaking into the guitar solo just like rock of days gone by. From there, though, they turn up the reverb and pile on the keyboards, and things change direction a bit. “You May Proceed” is an early Bowie-esque track, mid-tempo and nicely progressive, while “I Feel Feelings” is an up-tempo, hard-rocking jam. There’s even hints of Beatles-esque rock on “Nontoxic Loser” and some bouncy, dreamy pop like on “Mistakes.” More distortion than reverb, “My Beliefs” is Sonic Youth meets Neil Young, and “Dead Can Dance” is Bowie meets Ride. “Right Man” is a kind of dreamy, thick pop song, and “Shrink Wrap” is all about grungy guitars and distorted vocals, surprisingly working quite well as the album’s opener did.
On Joy Explosion, edwerd? shows signs of life, they just bury it beneath reverb and sly lyrics as if unsure of how serious to take this endeavor. I say to take it more seriously, the band has put together some strong guitar licks, good vocals, and a nice rock feel. These 14 songs are short and sweet, to the point, simple, and fun. But they could be so much better.