Joyful Noise Recordings


At a certain point in their career, many rock bands dread the audience reaction to saying “we’re going to play the new single” from onstage. It suggests that their days of vital music-making have devolved into being among the ranks of nostalgia artists. Deerhoof’s experience is quite different. They keep changing and developing as a band, and their successive releases are acclaimed and eagerly listened to by longtime fans and new listeners alike.


Several things distinguish Deerhoof’s latest Joyful Noise release, Miracle-Level, their nineteenth recording, the first released back in 1997. Improbably, this is Deerhoof’s first one recorded in a formal studio setting, with producer Mike Bridavsky, who has worked with Ezra Donner, Greg Warren, and Durand Jones, among others. Vocalist/bassist Satomi Matsuzaki sings entirely in her native language, Japanese, which hasn’t happened before on a Deerhoof album. Drummer Greg Saunier adds piano to some songs. Guitarists John Dietrich and Eddie Rodriguez fill out the quartet.


One might think that, having a studio and an experienced producer at their disposal, Deerhoof would indulge in a bit of experimentation with electronics. Instead, the band still prefers live takes to overdubs and the white-hot inspiration of immediacy to laboring overmuch over songs. Miracle-Level sounds cleaner than previous efforts. Bridavsky captures the band’s signature sound with impressive care and accuracy. In that sense, studio work is a step forward.


The band often rocks with abandon. “Sit Down, Let Me Tell You a Story” has powerful drumming and scurrying guitar riffs that accompany Matsuzaki’s singing, distressed with sliding tones and buoyed by high soprano lines. “My Lovely Cat” features an urgent lead riff, double time ostinato bass guitar, and energetic drums, with twin bass drum quick time punctuations. The mid-range phrases from Matsuzaki seem to render the vocal unflappable in the midst of the maelstrom. The aphoristic instrumental “Jet-Black Double-Shield” builds to an eruption partway through, only to dial back to overlapping ostinatos, followed by corresponding fortissimo passages to close. “Phase-Out All Remaining Non-Miracles by 2028” is the most musically intricate of the songs. A soaring vocal from Matsuzaki is accompanied by corruscating layers of guitars and the bassist’s own syncopated line. Apart from laying out on the bridge, Saunier provides thunderous drumming; his return during double guitar solos gives the conclusion of the song a propulsive energy. “And the Moon Laughs”manages to fit enough material for a prog epic into less than three minutes.


There are ballads too, which are some of the most memorable songs on Miracle-Level. The title song has arcing guitar solos offsetting, and in some cases, shadowing, one of the most well wrought melodies Matsuzaki sings. The album’s final song, “Wedding, March, Flower,” has a delicate, lyrical vocal. The accompaniment is similarly gentle in demeanor, with an elaborate, winsome chord progression played on the piano by Saunier. The title track is an intricate song, with harmony vocals, changes in tempo, and the development of multiple instrumental motifs.


Miracle-Level demonstrates that a band can still make changes – big ones – even after twenty-five years. It is seldom that a late career recording is so compelling. Miracle-Level is one of my favorites thus far in 2023.


-Christian Carey


Deerhoof Touring


07/07/23 – Des Moines, IA @ 80/35 Music Festival

07/08/23 – St. Paul, MN @ Turf Club

07/11/23 – Louisville, KY @ Zanzabar

07/12/23 – Grand Rapids, MI @ The Pyramid Scheme

07/14/23 – Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall

08/21/23 – London, UK @ Lafayette

08/22/23 – Bristol, UK @ The Lanes

08/23/23 – Liverpool, UK @ Invisible Wind Factory

08/24/23 – Sunderland, UK @ Pop Recs LTD

08/25/23 – Cumbria, UK @ Krankenhaus Festival

08/27/23 – Bethesda, UK @ Ara Drag

08/28/23 – Oxford, UK @ The Bullingdon

08/29/23 – Margate, UK @ The Lido

08/30/23 – Brighton, UK @ Concorde 2

08/31/23 August – Wiltshire, UK @ End of the Road Festival

09/01/23 – Birmingham, UK @ Supersonic Festival

09/07/23 – Saugerties, NY @ Opus 40

09/08/23 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr. Smalls Theater

09/09/23 – Pontiac, MI @ Pike Room at the Crofoot

09/10/23 – Bloomington, IN @ Russian Recording 20 Year Anniversary

09/12/23 – Nashville, TN @ The Basement East

09/13/23 – Asheville, NC @ Grey Eagle Music Hall

09/14/23 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle

09/15/23 – Norfolk, VA @ TBA

09/16/23 – Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar

11/05/23 – Utrecht, NL @ Tivoli Vredenburg – Cloud 9

11/07/23 – Paris, FR @ La Maroquinerie

11/08/23 – Rennes, FR @ Salle De La Cite

11/09/23 – Orleans, FR @ L’astrolabe

11/10/23 – Kortrijk, BE @ Sonic City Festival

11/12/23 – Lyon, FR @ Les Subsistance

11/14/23 – Braga, PT @ Gnation

11/15/23 – Lisbon, PT @ ZDB

11/17/23 – Alicante, ES @ Primavera Weekender

02/12/24 – Milan, IT @ ARCI Bellezza

02/13/24 – Bologna, IT @ Locomotiv

02/15/24 – Rome, IT @ Monk