We made it!
Joyful Noise Recordings is proud to have released so much incredible music -- 19 full-length albums, three 7"s, two EPs, and two boxsets -- against the odds in this mostly dreadful year.
We have found hope and inspiration in the community-based efforts of so many of our artists, and in YOUR unfailing support of the label.
Here's a round-up of everything we released this year.
Tall Tall Trees - A Wave of Golden Things
(released January 31, 2020)
Tall Tall Trees is songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Mike Savino. A Wave of Golden Things, his fourth studio album, opens with the distant crow of a rooster and takes off in a dust cloud of swirling banjo, drums, and bass, melding the influences of Pink Floyd and Cat Stevens with inspiration from banjo pioneers Earl Scruggs and Bela Fleck.
“[Tall Tall Trees] captivates audiences with his loop-based one-man shows”
Swamp Dogg - Sorry You Couldn't Make It
(released March 06, 2020)
While the 77 year-old Williams’ most enduring persona is the psychedelic soul superhero Swamp Dogg—a musical vigilante upholding truths both personal and political since the 1970’s—he will tell anybody who will listen that he’s considered himself country this entire time. “If you notice I use a lot of horns,” Swamp says. “But actually, if you listen to my records before I start stacking shit on it, I’m country. I sound country.”
“...[Swamp Dogg] headed to Nashville, teamed up with John Prine for a few tunes, and delivered a straight-forward country-soul collection of off-kilter torch songs.”
Magic Sword - Endless
(released March 27, 2020)
Magic Sword is an ageless tale of good and evil told through an ever expanding graphic novel with each volume accompanied by an original, synth-heavy soundtrack as well as immersive live performances. Armed with a musical and visual aesthetic that has its roots unabashedly buried deep in the golden era of ‘70s and ‘80s fantasy and sci-fi, Magic Sword’s followers are called to another plane of existence where the struggle between light and shadow becomes all too real. The multiverse has aligned to bring the people of the land together for the birth of their album Endless.
Kidbug - Kidbug
(released May 22, 2020)
Kidbug is Marina Tadic (Eerie Wanda), Adam Harding (Dumb Numbers), Thor Harris (Swans, Thor & Friends) and Bobb Bruno (Best Coast). The band was born from the romance of Tadic and Harding, and together with Harris and Bruno they make self-described "cuddlebug sludge”, the harmoniously spiky offspring of Harding’s fuzzy guitar grunge-gaze and Tadic’s dreamy left field pop.
"In every way, Kidbug comes across like the labor of love that it clearly is, both to a sound and an era and to each other."
Deerhoof - Future Teenage Cave Artists
(released May 29, 2020)
Future Teenage Cave Artists finds Deerhoof in a revolutionary mood, but also haunted by memories of a lost world and every failed attempt to save it. Borne of self-isolation and deprivation, it’s the sound of a sparkling, manic musical intelligence being disconnected from a nourishing public and devouring itself inside its own cocoon: a desperate lunge at metamorphosis.
“three moves ahead of everyone else”
-Loud and Quiet (9/10)
“Prolific and inventive”
“Deerhoof foresee a world in ashes, but also beyond”
-MOJO (4 stars)
Joyful Noise Presents: Safe In Sound (Home Recordings From Quarantine)
(released June 25, 2020)
In 2020, we commissioned 20 artists from the JNR roster to record a new song from within their quarantine environment. The resulting project, Safe In Sound - Home Recordings From Quarantine, features songs written and recorded while each artist is isolated at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Featuring Swamp Dogg, Deerhoof, Kishi Bashi & El Ten Eleven, C.J. Boyd & Will Oldham, Helvetia, The Ophelias, Kramer, Rob Crow & his kids, Thor Harris, Mike Adams At His Honest Weight, No Joy & Josh Kastner, Jad Fair & Hifiklub, Tall Tall Trees, SUUNS, Good Fuck, Dumb Numbers, Sound of Ceres, Magic Sword, and Ohmme.
Deerhoof & Wadada Leo Smith - To Be Surrounded By Beautiful, Curious, Breathing, Laughing Flesh Is Enough
(released July 03, 2020)
Sharing its name with a line from Walt Whitman's "I Sing The Body Electric" the new live album captures the band of Satomi Matsuzaki, Ed Rodriguez, John Dieterich, and Greg Saunier in peak form, and culminates in a thrilling five-song collaborative set with legendary avant-garde jazz trumpeter/composer Wadada Leo Smith as part of New York City’s Winter Jazzfest at Le Poisson Rouge.
100% of album proceeds benefit Black Lives Matter.
Let It Come Down - Songs We Sang In Our Dreams
(released July 24, 2020)
Let It Come Down has been percolating in Kramer’s mind for over two decades. Nearly 22 years after the doors of his infamous SHIMMY-DISC label were shuttered, Let It Come Down’s debut album, Songs We Sang In Our Dreams, marks the return of one of the 20th century’s seminal NYC indie labels. It is also Kramer’s first one-on-one collaboration since Bongwater circled the drain 30 years ago.
"A dream-pop record from one of the genre’s great architects, it jettisons messy rock for delicate arrangements and surprising vocal accompaniments."
Ohmme - Fantasize Your Ghost
(released July 31, 2020)
Fantasize Your Ghost is the direct result of Ohmme spending more time on the road than at their homes in Chicago, a record deeply concerned with questions of the self, the future, and what home means when you're traveling all the time.
“Gothy pop with a freaky jazz rigour”
“Chicago two-piece Ohmme rework their brand of guitar pop in smart, chaotic, beautiful style on new LP Fantasize Your Ghost”
-Loud and Quiet (8/10)
Helvetia - This Devastating Map
(released August 07, 2020)
Helvetia was formed in Seattle in 2005 by Jason Albertini. Since the band’s inception, he’s employed a rotating cast of band members and collaborators, which now includes Steve Gere and Samantha Stidham. Albertini is 1/3 of the group Duster, but Helvetiaʼs sound is decidedly more earthbound: guitars sparkle and soar beyond their means with hushed vocals transcribing aching personal struggles.
"On This Devastating Map Albertini crafts a collage-like world of fragmented sounds and ideas."
No Joy - Motherhood
(released August 21, 2020)
For No Joy’s first full length in five years, frontperson and principal songwriter Jasamine White-Gluz took what she learned from synthesis, reincorporated guitars, and produced an album that is not a departure from No Joy’s early shoegaze, but a stylistically omnivorous expansion that ekes into trip hop, trance and nu-metal.
"With 'Motherhood', No Joy has given birth to something entirely new."
“Death metal, 90s house-pop, and darkwave are just some of the genres in Jasamine White-Gluz’s palette, and she knows how to make them match.”
“a blisteringly progressive record - one that genuinely feels years ahead of its time.”
The Line of Best Fit (9/10)
Thor & Friends - 3
Thor & Friends - 4
(released September 04, 2020)
Polymath percussionist Thor Harris inaugurated Thor & Friends in the autumn of 2015 after five years of touring as the percussionist of iconic avant-rock ensemble Swans. The project is intended as a vehicle for experimentation with the conceptual vocabulary of American Minimalism collaborating with a rotating cast of Austin-based musicians. The ensemble has three core members, Thor Harris, Peggy Ghorbani and Sarah “Goat” Gautier — with its line-up expanding and contracting with the flux of compositional and improvisational contexts.
El Ten Eleven - Tautology
(released September 18, 2020)
When a beloved family member passed, El Ten Eleven’s Kristian Dunn found his own reflections on life emerging in the music he composed. Those expressions led to the creation of Tautology — a sonic meditation on the arc of human life, composed in three parts.
“El Ten Eleven's hugely ambitious new triple is so, so big; it’s by turn cerebral, soulful, powerful; jagged, tearful, rocking as hell; angry, studied, blissed.”
Psychic Temple - Houses of the Holy
(released September 25, 2020)
On his 2020 2xLP release, Houses of the Holy, Psychic Temple mastermind Chris Schlarb partners with a variety of musicians. Side A was recorded in the Joshua Tree desert with Cherry Glazerr; Side B delivers the legendary Chicago Underground Trio, reunited after nearly 20 years; The Dream Syndicate explode on Side C; and Side D features the words of cosmic street poet Xololanxinxo, supported by a full orchestra, double rhythm section, and gospel choir.
“A studio auteur with a bulging old-school Rolodex and a vision that straddles jazz, psych, Californian pop and more. On his sixth PT album, his conceptual audacity reaches a new high.”
-MOJO (4 stars)
Deerhoof - Love-Lore (full length digital album + limited edition silk-screened poster)
(released September 28, 2020)
Love-Lore is a 35-minute, 43 song, live-in-the-studio medley of covers unlike anything Deerhoof (or anyone else) has ever put together. The album forages a wide-ranging selection of music from the ‘50s through the ‘80s to reflect upon the overly optimistic promises of progress that humanity was fed across the culture and music of the post-war era. Instead of the projected 21st century in which disease, racism, and inequality are obsolete and everyone has a flying car and robot maid, our current blasted landscape finds the men, women, and children of Earth at the brink of extermination. And at the same time, Deerhoof finds hope in the wisdom of some of that era's anti-establishment voices, particularly the Afro-futurists, whose seeds we now see beginning to grow into trees.
Serengeti - With Greg From Deerhoof
(released October 29, 2020)
Serengeti (aka David Cohn) and Greg Saunier (Deerhoof) were surprised to see each other at the 2018 People residency in Berlin. They signed up for the noon-to-1pm slot in one of the recording studios, and having never played together or talked about what to record, they performed the 17-minute "I Got Your Password (live)" to an audience of recording engineer Jonas Verwijnen and a few other People musicians sitting in the control room. In April 2020 Greg asked Jonas for the audio from the session. When Greg sent Geti the 17-minute mixed track a few weeks later, they liked it and decided to make a full-length album. While Geti wrote lyrics, Greg produced some classical- and Broadway-inspired tracks. Each time Geti received a new track in his inbox, instead of listening to it first, he would immediately press record. All the lead vocals for the tracks on this album were done this way.
SUUNS - FICTION EP
(released October 30, 2020)
On FICTION EP, SUUNS explore fresh processes as a result of their current surroundings and global circumstances. Limited resources and contact inspired the band to reflect on the various environments in which they've created music over the years, to comb through their previous sounds and creative approaches, and to fuse them together with new ideas, ultimately producing a sort of future/past alchemy.
“these six tracks demonstrate SUUNS’ willingness to mess with the way they approach their craft, giving the listener a beacon of hope for future works.”
“Austere arrangements are overlaid with warped electronics and distorted vocals, like if Gustav Klimt’s ‘Golden Phase’ paintings were able to manufacture a car.”
Joan of Arc - Tim Melina Theo Bobby
(released December 04, 2020)
Tim Melina Theo Bobby, Joan of Arc's final album, might be their most personal and adventurous to date, culminating the band's many inspired, divergent sounds into one self-reflective, conclusive statement.
REISSUES, 7"s, REMIXES & MORE
Deerhoof - Children of Hoof Music Library 25th Anniversary Cassette Box Set
(Release Date - March 20, 2020)
Limited to 250 hand-numbered copies, this collection contains each of the 15 studio albums Deerhoof has recorded since their inception on April 5, 1994, along with Surprise Symphonies, a 59-minute collection of b-sides and rarities from the first 25 years of Deerhoof.
Tropical Fuck Storm - Suburbiopia b/w This Perfect Day (feat. Amy Taylor) - 7”
(Release Date - April 03, 2020)
A-side “Suburbiopia” is a lo-fi, hi-tech, disco scuzz dance smash, sung by the band’s Fiona Kitschin with guest drums and synths by Sean Powell (Surfbort), Amy Taylor (Amyl and The Sniffers) and Dan Kelly. B-side “This Perfect Day” is the collaboration known as sNIFFsURFsTORM (also feat. Amy Taylor & Sean Powell), covering Aussie punk legends The Saints.
Jad Fair and Daniel Johnston - It’s Spooky (Reissue)
(Release Date - April 10, 2020)
Jad Fair and Daniel Johnston’s 1989 album, It’s Spooky, is now back in print for the first time in nearly 30 years. This 2xLP reissue, limited to just 1500 copies pressed on Casper White vinyl, comes in a gatefold jacket with printed inner sleeves containing extensive liner notes from Everett True, Jeff Feuerzeig, Jad Fair, and Kramer, who is also credited with sound restoration and remastering.
Dale Crover - Piso Mojado (5-Sided Lathe Cut Record)
(Release Date - May 27, 2020)
Piso Mojado is a “five sided record” from Dale Crover. The custom lathe-cut design features four distinct spindle-holes, and five corresponding songs. Each record (limited to just 127 copies) is hand-made, and signed by Dale himself.
316 - Commando for Christ b/w Girl (I Love Jesus Too) - 7”
(Release Date - June 26, 2020)
In 1986 hair metal was king. Bands like Bon Jovi, Van Halen, and Def Leppard ruled the airwaves, spawning thousands of copycat bands and growing millions of head-banging teenage fans. At the same time, evangelical Christians—in an attempt to distance themselves from the hedonistic subculture of metal—promoted a cottage industry of "Christian" metal bands. Super-group Stryper found fame outside of Evangelical circles, but dozens of lesser-known metal bands thrived within the wholesome Christian youth group culture of sprawling suburban America. 316 is one of those bands.
The Ophelias - For Luck EP
(Release Date - Aug. 26, 2020)
The Ophelias EP For Luck captures the band evolving together in the best of ways. On the sweeping, driving "Grand Canyon," they dream of contact with apparitions of old friends and departed poets. “Lunar Rover” reimagines the Almost fan favorite in the context of quarantine— ruminating on long-distance connection from the surface of the moon. The mechanical rhythms and cutting lyrics of "Bad Enough" explore the self-doubt that looms over periods of intense transition. On “Both Sides Now”, the band uses the classic Joni Mitchell tune to reflect on how much they've grown since their inception.
Tropical Fuck Storm - Legal Ghost b/w Heaven (Talking Heads cover) - 7”
(Release Date - Sept. 11, 2020)
"Legal Ghost” originally appeared on Gareth and original Drones member Rui Pereira’s pre-Drones experimental home four-track recordings LP Bong Odyssey, recorded in the 90’s when Gareth and Rui were pot-smoking teenage morons. 20 years down the track, TFS have re-recorded the song for old time’s sake. In keeping with the A-Side’s vibe, the B-side is a version of Talking Heads’ immortal ode to mortality, “Heaven,” and was recorded on the same four-track machine that “Legal Ghost” was originally recorded on over 20 years ago.
Kramer - 2020 Artist in Residence (5xLP Boxset)
(Release Date - Aug. 2020-Dec. 2020)
JNR’s 2020 Artist-in-Residence is Kramer, one of the defining figures in post-punk music. Kramer’s work in music covers a vast spectrum of sound, unified only by an unwavering commitment to experimentation and collaboration. Even a straight telling of Kramer’s bio reads like a wild tall tale. He’s toured as a member of The Fugs, and Butthole Surfers. He’s played bass for GG Allin, and live mixed Sun Ra. Kramer has produced records for dozens of artists, including Daniel Johnston, White Zombie, and Low. Through his own record label, Shimmy-Disc, Kramer released albums from a fascinating roster of artists that includes Ween, Gwar, King Missile, and the Boredoms. Kramer’s residency incorporates all aspects of his creative expression.
Joyful Noise 2020 Holiday Special Snowflathes
(Release Date - Dec. 11, 2020)
Instead of canceling our yearly holiday party due to the global pandemic, we decided instead to create a video “holiday special" and asked our artists to record and film holiday songs from their respective locations across the globe.
The holiday special took place on Friday, December 11 - hosted by our own Mike Adams and featuring holiday performances from a whopping EIGHTEEN artists on the JNR roster, including: Deerhoof, Dale Crover, WHY?, Lou Barlow, No Joy, Thor Harris, Sleep Party People, Rob Crow, Danielson, Helvetia, and others. Watch a re-run here: https://youtu.be/EbDkm2T3owU
In addition to the "televised" video broadcast portion of this event, we are releasing just 100 copies of each song on seasonal vinyl. Limited to just 100 copies each, these snowflake-shaped lathe-cut 7" records (aka "Snowflathes") are handmade, hand-numbered, and each include a download of the full 18-song holiday compilation on MP3, WAV, and AIFF.
100% of net sales will be donated to World Central Kitchen and Second Helpings.
Various Artists - 2020 White Label Series
(Release Date - Jan. - Dec. 2021)
The Joyful Noise guest curated "White Label Series" has a simple purpose: to save great music from obscurity.
In our content-saturated world, it's very easy for meaningful music to be overlooked. As a result, countless amazing albums are never properly released, and are doomed to languish in the remote regions of the internet. To combat this trend, each year we ask twelve influential guests to curate our White Label Series and help shine a spotlight on their favorite undiscovered or under-appreciated artists.
Each month the series features a new full-length album, hand-picked by one of our curators. Releases are limited to 500 hand-numbered copies (pressed on black vinyl, with plain white labels), packaged in our series die-cut jackets, with artwork from the band and a statement from the curator. All albums include a digital download in MP3, WAV, and AIFF. Over the past three years this series has produced a ton of amazing music, and has even helped some careers along the way. We genuinely strive for this series to be a force of positivity in the often cripplingly-morally-bankrupt music industry. You can take a look back at the past WLS releases here: https://www.joyfulnoiserecordings.com/pages/white-label-series
Our artists have made quite a splash in the 2020 year-end lists. Check 'em out:
Swamp Dogg ‘Sorry You Couldn’t Make It’
NPR (US) included "Billy" in Best Songs of 2020
Ekstrablade (DK) #6 foreign album of the year
Wired "The Best Pop Culture That Got Us Through 2020"
Rolling Stone included “Please Let Me Go Round Again” on The 20 Best Country and Americana Songs of 2020
Aquarium Drunkard 2020 Year in Review
PopMatters Best R&B/Soul of 2020
All Music Favorite Americana Albums
Talkhouse “Best of 2020: All the things that Excited Palberta This Year”
NPR's World Cafe “2020 Nashville Music Recap”
Spin names SYCMI as a favorite album on “Margo Price Reflects on ‘Up and Down’ 2020”
Rolling Stone Margot Price included SYCMI on her 2020 year end list
The Times (UK) Best Albums of 2020
Rolling Stone included in Staff Picks Best Albums list by editor/big fan Jonathan Bernstein
AllMusic Best Albums of 2020
Ohmme 'Fantasize Your Ghost'
Pitchfork Best Rock Albums of 2020
Chicago Tribune Best Chicago Albums of 2020
Time Out Chicago Best Chicago Albums of 2020
Arts Fuse Best of 2020 list
The Fat Angel Sings Best of 2020 list
Post-Trash Best of 2020 list
Rolling Stone Underrated Music of 2020
Soundblab 2020 Albums of the Year
Our Culture 20 Great Albums You May Have Missed in 2020
Metacritic Top Albums 2020
Helvetia ‘This Devastating Map’
Post-Trash Best of 2020
No Joy ‘Motherhood’
Gorilla Vs Bear (US) Best Albums of 2020
Bandcamp Daily (US) Best of 2020: Connecting The Dots
All Music (US) Best of 2020
My Life In Music Lists (US) Best of 2020
Post-Trash Best of 2020
Bandcamp Daily “Bandcamp Daily Staffers on Their Favorite Albums of 2020”
Brooklyn Vegan Bill’s Indie Basement’s favorite albums of 2020
MXDWN Top 50 Best Albums of 2020
Metacritic Top Albums 2020
The Ophelias ‘For Luck’
AV Club "The Best Albums of 2020: The Ballots" in Randall Colburn Top 5 EPs
Whew, what a year! See you in 2021!