Ceremony, Joyce Manor


Breakup albums mark a turning point for a band: the moment when their sound completely changes and reaches a new level of emotional clarity. All that heartbreak and malaise condensed into any single record often makes for a defining piece of work, no matter the genre. The best records explore the nooks and crannies of sadness, learning it inside and out — celebrating it.

Ceremony’s fifth studio album, The L-Shaped Man, uses singer Ross Farrar’s recent breakup as a platform to explore loneliness and emotional weariness, but it is by no means a purely sad album. Rather than look inward, Farrar uses his experience to write about what it means to go through something heavy and come out the other side a different person.

In order to tell Farrar's story, Ceremony have almost completely stripped back the propulsive hardcore of their previous records, turning every angry outburst into simmering despair. “We’ve always tried to be minimalists in writing, even if it’s loud or fast or abrasive,” says lead guitarist Anthony Anzaldo. “It’s really intense when I hear it. Not in a way where you turn everything up to ten. Things are so bare, you’re holding this one note for so long and you don’t now where it’s going—to me, that’s intensity.” That intensity is apparent on “Exit Fears,” the first full song on the record. It meticulously pairs Justin Davis’ loping bassline, which pulls the track along, with Anzaldo's icy, minimal guitar work. It brings to mind some alternate version of Joy Division that hasn’t quite lost all hope. It gets close to exploding, but instead plays the shadows, never quite rising above a nervous simmer.

“A lot of the content has to do with loss, and specifically the loss of someone who you care deeply about,” Farrar says. “There is no way for you to go through something like this artistically and not have really strong emotions of loss and pain. There’s not really any way to hide that.” Farrar, for his part, is singing with a new kind of intensity, his baritone swooping and retreating from stressed angst to unsettling near-mutter as he sings, “You told your friends you were fine/ you thought you were fine too…” and later, “nothing is ever fine/ nothing ever feels right/ you have to tell yourself you tried.” It’s the first of many lyrically direct moments, and it should be hard to listen to, but Ceremony have so effortlessly nailed the sound of sadness that it feels great to live inside for awhile.

The sound is abetted by producer John Reis, who honed his sound in seminal bands like Rocket from the Crypt, Drive Like Jehu, and Hot Snakes. Much of the gravelly aggression he experimented with in those bands is present on The L-Shaped Man.

There's a story behind the title too. “I was speaking to our driver Stephen while on tour,” Farrar says. “We were talking about men in general and what shape they are…their body type. I said, ‘I guess men are in the shape of an L. The torso is straight. Vertical. And then you have the little feet at the end.’ There’s this painter named Leslie Lerner who was living in San Francisco in the ‘70s and ‘80s and made these beautiful paintings. He died on my 21st birthday. A lot of the record is about the similarities in our ideas. In what we’re trying to make. Things that have to do with love and losing love.”

Joyce Manor

If you ask the guys of Joyce Manor to describe themselves, they’ll tell you the band is "four guys who have a taste for bad Chinese food, Thin Lizzy guitar solos, and calling ‘shotgun’." But one listen to their infectiously catchy pop-punk reveals them as much, much more than that. Joyce Manor deconstructs punk rock to its most catchy core with Weezer-esque pop sensibilities and gigantic hooks that beg you to sing along.

After releasing a demo and a split 7", the band released their first self-titled full-length in 2011 on 6131 Records to critical acclaim, with Punknews bestowing upon the band the honour of 2011 Album of the Year. At the tail end of last year in the midst of a touring schedule that saw them criss-crossing the United States, the band began recording their second full length. ‘Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired’ is out now.

They joined 6131 Records in 2010. Their self-titled, full-length debut was released in 2011 to a host of critical and fan praise, and it landed the band on many year-end best-of lists. Joyce Manor moved over to Asian Man Records for their next album, Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired, released in April 2012. This album contains a cover of Video Killed the Radio Star.

Ed Schrader's Music Beat

Ed Schrader lives in Baltimore, Maryland where he spends his time fueling his David Bowie obsession and releasing songs through the Wham City arts collaborative alongside fellow Baltimore resident Dan Deacon. With only a handful of demos available online, it's anyone's guess what exactly to expect from this multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire—if his two demo songs are any indication, get ready for minimalist psychedelic punk with Schrader's high pitch vocals and fuzzed out, lo-fi distortion.

Glocca Morra

Quiet and loud, screamy and melodic, Glocca Morra pummel you with a skillful abandon. Much akin to a band like Bear Vs. Shark who could so perfectly walk those opposing tightropes, Glocca Morra are blurring the lines of post-hardcore note by note and scream by scream. You can get the band's Museum Mouth EP for just $2 and it is packaged inside of a brown paper bag with hand drawn art. Can anybody say hell yeah!?

Conceived in Iraq, the back of a van hurtling across the desert, Mississippi, and the leaf shrouded seclusion of a Mount Pleasant basement, GIVE has existed in one form or another for close to five years. We played our first show in November of '08, since then we have played many shows in many places. We've had three recording sessions, all with Don Zientara at Inner Ear Studios in Arlington, VA


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