A colorized still frame from the music video “Destruction: Live at Woodstock ‘99.” (Photo: Cultco Records, used with permission; remixed by Matthew Keys)

Why Joywave’s “Destruction” is the greatest song ever written

Spend enough time in Rochester, New York, and you’re destined to stumble upon a “garbage plate,” a local delicacy consisting of meat, eggs, onions, baked beans, hot sauce, ketchup, bread and other stuff. From the photos I’ve reviewed, it looks like an unappetizing mess. But it’s a local favorite, and as one Huffington Post blogger put it, “if you ask someone from Rochester what a garbage plate is, they’ll probably make you eat one.”

The song “Destruction” as performed by food. (Photo: Brad Mandell / Rochester Wiki)

“Destruction,” the fourth track on Joywave’s first mainstream album How Do You Feel Now? and the band’s third single if you believe Wikipedia, is the garbage plate of music. “The harmonizer on the bass throughout the song is set to the wrong key,” frontman Daniel Armbruster recently wrote. “The bridge trumpet and guitar lines sound like a circus act. The guitar riffs at the end are an amalgamation of every rock cliche in history.” Add a blend of everything the band considers to be stereotypical of today’s alternative and indie music—whistles, stomps, claps, shouts—and you’ve got what seems to be a recipe for disaster.

But much like the garbage plate, those ingredients work for the song instead of against it, creating something wholly unique and palatable. For Joywave (whose members also hail from Rochester), the track is emblematic of a band that is doing its own thing, forging its own path, breaking some contemporary rules along the way for the sake of art and their own amusement.

The song “Destruction” as performed by Joywave. (Video: Cultco Records)

Nowhere is that more true than with the release of SWISH, Joywave’s peculiar take on the extended play album. Unlike most EPs, SWISH contains just one song — Destruction—remixed nine times. As one friend put it, the listening experience is reminiscent of those pick-your-own-journey books, except here you pick the introduction to the song. After listening to them all, it’s easy to see how any one of these versions could have made it onto the record.

The last track on SWISH is “Life in a Bubble I Blew,” an unreleased track from How Do You Feel Now? that was first performed in San Francisco at the start of the band’s headlining tour last year. At the end of the show, drummer Paul Brenner told me that the song had been recorded in 2014 but was ultimately cut from their album, and that the band was considering other ways to release it, including as a possible single for Record Store Day.

“Life in a Bubble I Blew” (Audio: Cultco Records / Hollywood Records)

Instead, it wound up on SWISH as a bonus track. Listening to the studio version of Bubble, it’s understandable why it wasn’t included on the album: The composition, sound and lyrics feel like a callback to Joywave’s freshman EP Koda Vista. It doesn’t seem to fit anywhere on How Do You Feel Now? and the band probably felt including it would needlessly throw the whole record off-balance (although it would have been neat to add it as a pregap track — a kind of melodic bridge between the old and the new). Still, it’s a beautiful song—one that I, personally, feel very special to have heard first along with a few hundred other people last year—and I’m glad Joywave finally found a place and time to unleash it to the masses.

SWISH is available to stream on Apple Music and Spotify. How Do You Feel Now? is available for purchase at CultcoStore.com. Garbage plates are available at Nick Tahou Hots, 320 W. Main St. in Rochester.