Back in the hazy, crazy days of college-rockdom (i.e.,
before underground music went overground as “alternative rock”) Georgia-based
Bruce Joyner fronted the mighty Unknowns, a SoCal outfit merging punk, garage
and surf to great effect. He later founded The Plantations, eventually making
the cross-country trek to reclaim his Southern roots, and while he’s hardly
been the most prolific of artists, each time he resurfaces with a new
recording, it’s always a banner day for longtime fans.
His current ensemble is dubbed The Reconstruction, featuring
Joyner’s longtime guitar-slinging foil Tom “Possum” Byars (Out Of The Fire) helping
to lead the charge. Elements,
featuring production and engineering work from both Don Fleming (who played in
a band with Joyner in the late ‘70s before going on to fame with Gumball and as
an in-demand NYC producer) and Mitch Easter, is indeed a worthy addition to the
Joyner canon, a sleek though stripped-down cauldron of driving garage and
hard-edged pop. Throughout, Joyner sings with a deeply-felt passion, one moment
unleashing a sneer or a snarl, the next crooning romantically like a punk
Sinatra. Among the highlights: thumping, swaggering opening track “Invisible
Smile,” which is aggro punk with a melodic edge; “Swamp Fox Foxy,” anthemic
garageadelica, featuring lead guitar by Fleming; “Evil Smile,” Southern
goth-pop that’d make Lux Interior smile; and “Hot Georgia Nights,” which with
its underlying surf-y vibe wouldn’t be out of place on an Unknowns record.
It’s been some time since we had a new record from Joyner.
Here’s hoping we won’t have to wait so long for the next one.
DOWNLOAD: “Hot Georgia
Nights,” “Hard Machine,” “Invisible Smile” FRED MILLS