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http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/5cf79f86f4382751c1e009e012a62d6196a636fa.jpg The Big Roar

The Joy Formidable

The Big Roar

Canvasback/Atlantic
Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 3.5 0
March 9, 2011

Click to listen to The Joy Formidable's The Big Roar

Love is "the ever-changing spectrum of a lie," sings Ritzy Bryan on her band's full-length debut. It's a fascinatingly jaded notion. But the 27-year-old frontwoman could be praising gas chromatography for all it matters when her guitar erupts, its bee- swarm noise blasts careening into multi-orgasmic crescendos. The Big Roar recycles and magnifies tracks from Joy Formidable's 2009 EP, A Balloon Called Moaning: The multitracked vocal attack of "Austere" is transformed from pub brawl to arena prizefight; "Whirring" gets expanded into a six-minute-plus epic of face-melting, Sonic Youth-ful jamming. The riffs are more memorable than the songs, you say? Does it really matter?

Band to Watch: Joy Formidable Revive Female-Fronted Nineties Rock

Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos

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    Song Stories

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    A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

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