Sam Ray has always hinted at greatness—his past work with Teen Suicide, Ricky Eat Acid and Julia Brown attest to his talent and eclecticism—but it’s on new album It’s the Big Joyous Celebration, Let’s Stir the Honeypot that he truly emerges from his chrysalis, every bit a butterfly.
The album, streaming now on Teen Suicide’s Bandcamp page and out on Run For Cover Records on April 1, doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but that’s OK because Ray has a style that is distinctly his own, despite the constant Guided by Voices comparisons. True, Ray does present his work as a choppy aural collage through a lo-fi lens, but Bee Thousand didn’t invent that concept.
That premise is only Ray’s starting point: he possesses a virtuosic ability to arrange intricately winding songs like album opener “Living Proof.” The music that makes up the 26-track It’s the Big Joyous Celebration, Let’s Stir the Honeypot defies classification—it doesn’t adhere to any one genre, instead running the gamut from proggy folk to noise rock to ‘80s metal shredding, and that can all happen across one track.
Included in Ray’s talent as a songwriter is his ability to enlist talent that can buoy his work. The album features guests Spencer Radcliffe and Harmony Tividad of Girlpool, who provide additional vocals. Tividad adds a soft touch to the sweet “Violets,” one of the album’s many transcendent moments. With this album, Sam Ray establishes himself as a top-notch artist, staring greatness in the eye and not blinking.