Does anyone else think Jesus is just some guy who drives around in an Astrovan, and is stoned? Or does anyone have the unpopular opinion of that people, but millennials specifically, are doing drugs and are scared of life and the world since we have only been exposed to war, conflict and violence? Mt. Joy is an up and coming band that eases their listeners into talking about those kinds of serious, personal and maybe uncomfortable topics and unpopular opinions by using far out metaphors and their indie rock style. Though the group currently has just two singles, “Astrovan” and “Sheep,” an album is soon to follow.
Mt. Joy is made up of Matt Quinn (vocals/guitar) and Sam Cooper (guitar). The two met in high school and they were both turned on by aliens and laser beams, and were planning on writing “comedic intergalactic” songs. But they ended up going a different route– lyrical and actually. The two went to two completely different colleges; Sam was working in the film industry after graduating law school and Matt was taking law classes. Matt and Sam reconnected in Los Angeles back in 2015. In 2016, Sam was going to go back to Philly to be an attorney but while he was road-tripping it back, he was listening to a recording that he and Matt had done and realized that this was what they were meant to be doing. And he wasn’t wrong.
Their first single “Astrovan” was released in 2016, and it did extremely well; they have over 300,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. “Astrovan” is a serious tune. It combines religion, drug addiction and death but in a different way–in such a way it’s not all that serious from the surface. It’s very easy listening–a mix of indie, funk, with a hint of folk. The song does reference religion, drugs, and death, but Mt. Joy says that “Astrovan” is actually meant to inspire people to keep going and not letting the “un-pure” things stop anyone from pursuing their dreams. So, the references of Jesus and Angels is to make the “un-pure” things pure again.
The second single is “Sheep” and was just released on January 18. “Sheep” is very political, speaking specifically against police brutality. The first verse goes: “Kids get high in the basement sometimes/ And tell themselves not to watch the screens/ It’s the blood that haunts me, I can’t fall asleep/ Cause it’s ruthless, and don’t tell me you’re ruthless too,” at first, it seems it doesn’t hit you how heavy this song is. It continues to say, “When there is blood on the streets of Baltimore/ Kids are getting ready for a long war/ Maybe I was born in the wrong skin/ But those sheep are rolling in the mud again,” it hits hard by referencing police brutality, and how people of color feel that they may be born with the “wrong” color. And the song finishes on a very strong note and powerful statement: “Ohhh it haunts me cause their freedom was paid in blood.” But much like “Astrovan,” it’s a very chill song musically. It’s a very light and slow indie rock song, something that is jammable; if the lyrics weren’t so truthful, that is.
Mt. Joy is kind of a throwback to the hippie days of the 60s and 70s–bands like The Doors, The Guess Who and The Grateful Dead. Those artists weren’t afraid to be outspoken, say how they feel and what they think, and to talk about what’s actually going on around them. But it was fairly discrete.
Today, we have a second wave of the Civil Rights Movement, with people all of different races, genders, and identities coming together to protest and fight against “The Man.” And the music today is reflecting that. For example, last year Beyonce came out with Lemonade, an extremely political album. It was amazing and very in-your-face. It touches on racism, women’s rights and even infidelity. In 1970, The Guess Who released the track “American Woman,” which is actually about the draft for the Vietnam War. But many people might not understand that without context. “American Woman” is a very “rock out-ish” song. It’s loud, hard hitting and makes you just want to do something. It enrages you… But in a good way. Mt. Joy is able to do that with their chill out vibin’ tunes that are also politically charged. What the group is to come out with next will definitely be a trip.