Birth of Joy – Prisoner


Review by Gary Cordwell

Long Branch Records / SPV

Release Date: 7 March 2014

Dutch psychedelic rockers Birth of Joy are a tough band to pigeonhole. They will be playing a high-profile gig at SXSW in Austin this month and you get the feeling that the dry, desert air will suit these young stoners down to the ground. They are a power trio but with an unusual dynamic (organ/guitar/drums). They are obviously indebted to the blues rock scene of the late 60’s/ early 70’s but are in no way simply a retro band, they sound very much in-the-now.

The band kick off their latest release, Prisoner, with ‘The Sound’ and what is immediately apparent with the Jon Lord-esque sound is that the keyboards are the lead instrument – vocalist Kevin Stunnenberg’s distorted guitar is almost a backing instrument, adding texture and ‘oomf’ (technical term!). The quirky ‘How it Goes’ has thumping, Dave Grohl-style drumming and then some Pink Floyd keyboard noodlings usher in the abum’s centrepiece, the 7 minute-plus ‘Three Day Road’. Its epic construction, power chords, dramatic build-and release ebb and flow, are sure to be stretched out to jam-tastic lengths live. The band then head out into the badlands with a head full of peyote for their most Doors-like song, ‘Holding On’ with Stunnenberg channeling his inner Lizard King, although with none of Morrisons’ brooding deathwish. This is a joyous noise.

However, this trip is not all retro. Yes, the band proudly wears their influences on their sleeves (or perhaps their patches on their flares) but the raw, in-the-red production reminds you that you are listening to a bunch of hungry youngsters right now. There are no grandstanding solos, these guys play hard and fast. You get the impression that Gatjan Gutmans’ organ takes quite a beating (fnarr). So, Purple, ELP, Focus – but also The Strokes, MC5 and Muse are thrown into this particular blender. So squeeze into a pair of leather strides and go and see them live, it’ll be a blast.

Birth Of Joy - Prisoner8 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. The Sound
  2. How It Goes
  3. Keep Your Eyes Shut
  4. Three Day Road
  5. Grow
  6. Rock And Roll Show
  7. Longtime Boogie
  8. Mad Men
  9. Holding On
  10. Prisoner
  11. Clean Cut