Orange Blood album art

Mt. Joy may be a fairly newer indie rock band, but they are perhaps the most passionate, soulful group existing in the genre today. With their pseudo-psychedelic arrangements and varied pop-rock sound, they have been heralded alongside other alt-rock pioneers like The Head and the Heart, Arcade Fire and The Lumineers — the latter of whose co-tour with Mt. Joy was cut short by the pandemic. It was this abrupt, upsetting event which actually spawned Mt. Joy’s latest powerful album, Orange Blood, which released June 17 via Island Records. As Mt. Joy’s leader singer, Matt Quinn, headed to the California desert to contemplate the band’s next steps, the full arc of Orange Blood sprang up organically. Now, two years since their previous album, Quinn says of Orange Blood:

“Our last album was a breakup record. It had a darker feel. When we were in Joshua Tree, there were so many sad things in the world. We wanted to build something that found beauty in the fact the world has always been crazy. We were trying to find a way to be present enough to appreciate our surroundings even if they’re in decay … We put so much love into this album. My dream for this record is that it gives people a chance to be present and connect with something outside of the daily doom scroll.”

Orange Blood” is the title track, and provides a surprisingly cathartic opening. The song is unassuming at first, before changing tempo and volume — finally exploding into a passionate climax. Lyrically, the track contains stunning visuals — “As we go, driving on the interstate / Acid took us on a date / Orange blood dripping from the sun” — alongside words evoking the desire to be free from modern worries: “Yes, and I know that worry eats at your mind / Let the desert sun decorate time.” Watch the music video below:

The next track, “Evergreen,” is a great example of a song that gets better the more it plays. It’s upbeat — similar to music by Vampire Weekend — and sounds tonally different from the rest of the album with its almost punk vibe. The song is about trying new things even if they seem scary, with the biting opening lyrics, “This is the part where you’re asking, ‘Why’ / Along a road where everything dies / This is the part where you waste your time worried, wondering.” Watch the music video starring Creed Bratton below:

“Roly Poly” follows, providing yet another 180 in terms of sound and style. The track has a more “island” feel, with a mix of acoustic guitar plucking that never ventures farther than gentle strums — like a softer version of a Weezer song. With its topics of pining for something — or someone — that could have been and wanting to break the cycle of regret, stand-out lyrics include: “I still leavе your dried-up paint / In the driveway and when it rains / The colors burst into my brain / A thousand roads that could have been.”

“Johnson Song” is next, and continues the trend of changing up the album’s pace. It’s a much more concrete, almost story-like song detailing what sounds like a dive bar in the middle of the desert, filled with musicians of questionable quality and patrons who have no choice but to dance away their fears. The track is subdued yet psychedelic, and ends with some of the most sentimental lyrics on the entire album: “And I don’t know of anyone who / Dances like you do / It’s terrible, but oh so honest / And it makes me want you.”

The album then brings listeners to “Don’t It Feel Good,” which is reminiscent of Ed Sheeran’s gentler songs mixed with Vance Joy’s honest vocals and lyrics. The track is about letting loose — preferably by getting stoned — and going wherever the road takes you, not worrying about today or tomorrow, as seen in the lyrics: “Yes, every note I ever sung / Melts into another one / So I won’t pretend that I know when / But I know all good things must end / So where do we go when everyone knows / Someday our hearts explode.”

The next track is “Lemon Tree,” which evokes new and old British rock from The Beatles to Blur to Coldplay, with a bit of everything else mixed in. The track has a killer bass line and jamming electric guitars, combined with punctuated time signature changes that feel like a whole new sound. Stand-out lyrics about breaking free from constraints and worries include, “The sweetness is around the seed / And I’m learning to keep going / Just an itty-bitty hit of weed / Got me ready to leave my body.” Watch the music video below:

“Bang” comes next as the most overtly political song on the album. The lyrics seem to allude to a specific event with, “They’re holding court on Montrose and 21st / And the cops don’t care, they want it to get worse / It goes bang, bang, bang, bang / Nothing changed, they just gaslight the blame,” while still maintaining an air of tired anger at the overall tragedy of the world and its sins. The song is short, yet with its steady drums, quiet acoustic guitars and haunting piano chords, it leaves a forlorn impact long after the final note.

One of the stand-out tracks follows, “Phenomenon.” It’s a fantastic mix of jazzy and bluesy all at once, with elements of funk and electronica mixed in to create a trance-like bop of a song. The chorus essentially says all that listeners need to know to get the song’s structured yet breezy feeling: “All we are, this phenomenon is the powerful drug / That leads me on, baby, lead me on in and out of every song / All we are, this phenomenon is the golden one / So, lead me on, baby, lead me on ’cause you’re my phenomenon.”

“Ruins” is the penultimate song, and provides a half-scathing half-hopeful commentary about needing to try for love even when people are actively screwing themselves over. With lyrics like, “Halfway home, I caught you dreamin’ / In the passenger seat, your feet out the window / Like maybe your love, it gets torn from the bone / In the eyes of the Lord,” the track, oddly enough, sounds like Adele mixed with Muse, with a mix of free-form piano work and a genuinely passionate blues-tinged guitar solo toward the end.

The last song “Bathroom Light,” brings Orange Blood‘s psychedelic and meditative journey through the California desert to an end. With evocative imagery like, “I think I like falling in love in the bar bathroom light / I don’t question it, I don’t mess with it, I just go, go grab it,” and words of wisdom in, “‘Cause someday we must return the movies in our brains / And these moments we can’t fake / Yes, the angels never leak the expiration date,” the track is the perfect way to end this eclectic album. Watch the music video below:

With their maturing soulful sound on their newest album, Orange Blood, Mt. Joy is poised to gain even more fans with their powerful work. Mt. Joy will embark on a North American tour to support Orange Blood between July 30 and November 5, with special guests Wilderado, Sun Room, Wilco, Madison Cunningham, The Brook & The Bluff and Sneaky Peaches joining at various points. You can find out more information and buy tickets here. And be sure to take a listen to all ten tracks from Mt. Joy’s Orange Blood below!

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