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Thread: FEATURED ALBUM: Jolly - The Audio Guide to Happiness (Part 1)

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    Moderator Poisoned Youth's Avatar
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    FEATURED ALBUM: Jolly - The Audio Guide to Happiness (Part 1)

    For the next several weeks, I will be commemorating 2021 by highlighting some releases from 2011 that are now 10 years old, but likely in the where are they now? pile. Next up is the U.S. based band Jolly. At the time, they seemed to be part of the Porcupine Tree, accessible crossover rock "movement" (for lack of a better word) that was popular at the time. They released a "part 2" in 2013. And they released the album "Family" in 2019. Are there still Jolly fans out there? What do you think of this album 10 years later?

    cover_263392162019_r.jpg


    Review from ProgArchives
    First coming to my attention as a band seeking to create a therapeutic experience 'through the guise of rock music', progressive rocking New Yorkers Jolly aim to take music where science would not have allowed a few years ago. With the discovery of binaural beats- carefully calibrated stereophonic tones to induce heightened states of well-being- this new phenomenon (that some might dismiss as pseudo-scientific, at best) has generated alot of interest for its potential as an up-and-coming form of therapy. With that in mind, Jolly has created an album with incorporates binaural beats into the music, creating an album that attempts to optimize a listener's mood through lyrics, music, and the fresh technical aspect. A mixture of prog and psychology; quite an exciting prospect, to say the least. But regardless of the binaural beats' effectiveness, Jolly succeeds in delivering a powerful album that ranges from pop, to prog rock and even metal, even if it does get wrapped up in it's own admittedly pretentious concept a bit more than it should at times.

    For an album that preaches happiness and well-being, the music here does get remarkably dark at times. In an interview, the band states to some extent that happiness is about coming to terms with all emotions good and bad, and this ideology does seem to be reflected in the music. Although the album starts off emulating a cheap relaxation tape, it's not long before the serenity fades into heavy guitars, energetic drumming and brooding vocals. A brand of progressive rock oriented towards a more commercially accessible approach as landmarked by Porcupine Tree, the songwriting here is based around strong choruses, powerful melodies sung by vocalist Anadale, and tasteful arrangements for the instruments.

    Although the music does take a noticeable slip from consistent quality after the 'Guidance Two' interlude, the songs here are generally very well written and powerfully performed. 'Joy' is a track here with much potential to be a single, and the heaviest song 'The Pattern' is a cross between the darker moments of Muse, and a noticeable contribution of math metal, surprisingly enough. After some good listening though, the winner for 'album highlight' must go to the highly melodic softer track 'Storytime', where Anadale's vocals are at their strongest, and the guitars turn down for some more subtle piano work and atmospherics; a beautiful track.

    Of course, no album is without some measure of flaws, and while 'The Audio Guide To Happiness's first installment is solid on a musical level, the album's concept does often get in the way of both the music and the album's flow. While it's perfectly understandable that the vocal interludes, introductions, outros, and voice clips are meant to contribute to the apparent therapeutic experience of it all, they result in something that sounds far more annoying than I would imagine they were ever intended to be. It's pretty aggravating to have a musical experience interrupted to listen to condescending voiceovers, but they are thankfully usually over before you're able to reach for the 'skip' button.

    An interesting but generally poorly executed concept matched with some great music, and one does get a somewhat mixed impression of this album, but while the band's promise of a 'therapeutic experience' seems to work in reverse in terms of the irritating relaxation tapes, there is music here that does wonders for my mood, regardless of any of those binaural beats. - Conor Fynes




    WANTED: Sig-worthy quote.

  2. #2
    Member Monet's Avatar
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    Jolly's world of sound draws its charm from contrasts. The mostly very melodic singing forms the constant of this music in addition to the well-used studio reverb. The songs, on the other hand, alternate between harmonious, sometimes slightly commercial alt.rock with a neoprog-like ballads and the quite aggressively riffing alt.metal outbursts that are spiced up with a few growls.
    The release of Jolly's second album is preceded by a strange, but possibly promotional theory, according to which binaural tones built in with the thought of relaxation are supposed to expand the brainwaves and thus make unprecedented listening experiences possible. These should reach the nervous system directly by bypassing the rational sensations. (By the way, I also explained the meaning of the album title). The curious listener should go in search of extended brain waves using headphones.
    Or, for those of us who have hobbies other than brain research, the whole thing formulated a little differently according to my listening impression: 'ambient' interludes and very harmonious keyboard carpets are clearly mixed into the music every now and then (although there should be people who do this aggressively ). This explains the band's otherwise difficult to understand self-assessment that 'ambient' is an important part of the music.
    When I think about it like that - especially after reading something about the concept of the album - the arrangements seem to me at times really quite unusual, because strangely difficult to grasp.
    In songs like "Still a Dream" an amplified electronic component comes into its own and the slightly dreamy parts of "Radiae" naturally have something beneficial. It's just slightly disturbing that "Radiae" also has prog metal passages to offer.
    The music has turned out to be very entertaining as a melody-rich, lavishly arranged, but by no means slick or drifting into commercial production. Those who are enthusiastic about a mixture of influences like Riverside, Devin Townsend, OSI, Meshuggah and Pallas (all of which have a somewhat remote atmosphere) will enjoy this album.
    "This concludes part one, please insert disc two" says a woman's voice at the end. So the second part is as good as promised.

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    Member moecurlythanu's Avatar
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    I didn't know these guys were a thing 10 years ago. I don't have it, but picked up their first album cheap sometime in the intervening 10 years. More than 7, I'd guess. Anyway, the first album didn't make much of a positive impression on me, and I never explored further, thus missing this one. Sorry.
    I like the part where Icarus hijacks the Little Red Hen.

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  4. #4
    Great album , nice to see it featured. Great guitar work and infectious melodies. A winner in my book !

    My favorite track :

    https://youtu.be/iTaz_3MVBIw

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    Here is a short review of the album I wrote back when it came out. Since that time I have had the chance to see the band several times and have always enjoyed them:

    I have to admit that I do not know much about Jolly. I know they are from the eastern United States and I believe this is their 2nd album. What I have discovered is a very pleasant band that combines classic progressive rock with a modern indie spirit. The album is a concept piece that will be continued with a second volume to be released in the not too distant future. I could see some of this music getting some radio airplay. It is commercially friendly, but not at all commercial (if that makes any sense). The songs are all well written and constructed. I have seen others compare them to Porcupine Tree and although there may be some similarities, Jolly have a sound that are distinctly their own. The band has just enough heaviness to please fans of harder rock, but they never really venture into metal. Bottom line is these guys are a tight bunch and I would think anyone who is a fan of modern accessible prog would enjoy this album.

  6. #6
    This seems really familiar for some reason... I seem to recall seeing their name somewhere and/or reading about them, but I don't think I've ever heard this album. Just added it on iTunes so I can check it out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aith01 View Post
    This seems really familiar for some reason... I seem to recall seeing their name somewhere and/or reading about them, but I don't think I've ever heard this album. Just added it on iTunes so I can check it out.
    They have played several festivals including ROSfest and Progtoberfest which is where I saw them. I seem to remember them touring as an opening act for someone too, but don't remember who it was.

  8. #8
    'aang 'hoot' Don Arnold's Avatar
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    As it happens, I picked this CD up a month ago. I also have Family. The band's sound is fuller and more mature (and confident) on Family, but to my ears there is a lot to like from TAGtH I. I really like the singer's voice, which edges towards schmaltzy-pop yet manages to mostly keep from crossing that line. Instrumentally, they are, at times, a wall of sound, but to the power of the song, not its detriment. At least in my opinion.

    Eventually I'd like to acquire part 2.

  9. #9
    Completely unknown to me.
    Macht das ohr auf!

    COSMIC EYE RECORDS

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    Quote Originally Posted by Don Arnold View Post
    As it happens, I picked this CD up a month ago. I also have Family. The band's sound is fuller and more mature (and confident) on Family, but to my ears there is a lot to like from TAGtH I. I really like the singer's voice, which edges towards schmaltzy-pop yet manages to mostly keep from crossing that line. Instrumentally, they are, at times, a wall of sound, but to the power of the song, not its detriment. At least in my opinion.

    Eventually I'd like to acquire part 2.
    I actually think "Part 2" is a better album.

  11. #11
    'aang 'hoot' Don Arnold's Avatar
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    ^ I can believe this, Steve, based on the track Firewell.

    For those unfamiliar with the band, here's the track. This one sits towards the heavier side of the band's oeuvre, yet is very melodic in places.



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