The eclectic New Jersey jazz / rock quartet Joy on Fire have shared their new single “Happy Holidays”, another new track from their forthcoming new album States of America. Unlike previous singles “Anger and Decency” and “Selfies” that took their freewheeling jazz punk sound in a proggier direction with longer runtimes and more experimental song structures, “Happy Holidays” is one of the most immediately energizing songs on the album, wasting no time before throwing you into headfirst into the interplay between guitarist / bassist John Paul Carillo and saxophone player Anna Meadors. As usual, frontman Dan Gutstein’s deadpan spoken word vocals tie the track together, with darkly funny observations and turns of phrase like “I hate spending a lot of time in graveyards / we’re all going to spend a lot of time in graveyards”.
The release of “Happy Holidays” is accompanied by a music video, in which the band performs the song on street corners and graveyards, with Gutstein speaking his lyrics into a cell phone and a broken old payphone. Describing the inspiration and process of making the visuals, John writes: “The video for “Happy Holidays” was directed by Anna and me, and we were able to spin off some of Dan’s lyrical gambits, especially “A hood-up is not a phone booth / A phone rings inside a hood-up” as well as the repetition of “graveyards.” We also spun off the spinning motion invoked in the main riffs of the tune. So the video, surreal and playful ala Spike Jonze’s days working with the Breeders and the Beastie Boys, has a lot of spinning in it — spinning cameras, spinning musicians (that’s us!), and people rolling down a hill in a cemetery (us again!). The video was filmed both outside of Washington DC and in various spots in New Jersey. The busted up payphone that’s featured throughout the video is in Trenton, near band headquarters, and, well…what is it doing there? The thing hasn’t worked in at least five years!, and the receiver — as seen in the video — is split in two. I guess it was there waiting for us to film it! It’s in front of a church of sorts — one of those somewhat ungainly urban buildings that calls itself a church — and as Anna and I were filming, some members of the congregation came out and told us we’d been there too long and that we had better head on out, pronto! No problem, they came out just as we were wrapping up.”
heir new album, States of America, is the band’s 7th album, their sixth for Procrastination Records. The album will feature singles “Anger and Decency” and “Selfies” along with previously released tracks from 2021 “Thunderdome” and “Uh Huh”. “Thunderdome” originally premiered on an episode of Bob Boilen’s All Songs Considered show on NPR, who said about the band “[Joy on Fire] just blew me away—they are just so fantastic.” The video for “Uh Huh”—the opening track on the LP—is an official selection at fourteen film festivals worldwide, including the LA Rocks Film Festival and London Rocks Film Festival, and was a winner at the Obskuur Ghent Film Festival in Belgium.
States Of America will be released in full on June 11th, 2022.