Dreams Take Flight
The New Album
The band's forthcoming album Dreams Take Flight is being released on Tiny Global Productions on May 14th on vinyl and compact disc.

Dreams Take Flight transitions from political discourse into a post-virus rebirth of human relationship and the inevitable fumblings of the society's psychological reconstruction over the forthcoming year. Have you ever wondered what purpose your joy or my pain? All those moments shared together to be washed away by the rain... Have you ever doubted our super hipster being love-in at all? Just a pair of urbane fools passing through waiting for our call... Take a leap into the great unknown...

Almost perversely heart-on-sleeve, Johny Brown and compatriots have never fitted well within a particular scene - nor have they ever seem to try. While still featuring some of the band's strongest songs, Dreams Take Flight has a strange film-like ambience in parts, almost as if planned as a soundtrack, a thought mirrored in Inga Tillere's sublime, dream-like sleeve, best seen in real life. "A Leap Into The Great Unknown" and "Notes From A Gallery" will likely be heard as too disarmingly direct for radio, and the videos will likely never see the entry door to MTV, but Dreams Take Flight will ultimately be considered a masterwork of clarity in a confused, contentious time.

Band Of Holy Joy - Dreams Take Flight
Band Of Holy Joy 2021, photograph by Bjorn Hatleskog

Classic Pop Magazine
"Have you ever doubted our super hipster being love-in?" asks Johny Brown on A Leap Into The Great Unknown. This intriguing approach to questioning the status quo is typical of BOHJ, who are an admittedly acquired taste but nonetheless neglected national treasures, yet the lack of a spotlight's done nothing to reduce their fecundity nor their grudging positivity. That Magic Thing brews up a storm, concluding hopefully "Love is a healing force", and chamber strings amid This Rhythm Of Life's desperate sadness will "restore your faith in humanity".
Prog Magazine

Band Of Holy Joy probably count as veterans now, but their 20-somethingth (counting cassette-only curveballs) album Dreams Take Flight (Tiny Global) sees their urban prog folk re-energised by pandemic paranoia. Heatedly political, intensely personal, it's an expansive set of epic songs, Johny Brown's voice cynical on This Is The Festival Scene but emotional on the Arcade Fire-like Rhythm Of Life.
Mojo Magazine
Having perfected their existential beat-soul, BOHJ's third wave uses it heady textures to cast a caustic gaze at modern life. Optimism ultimately wins out, trumpet-flushed standout That Magic Thing forcefully concluding: "Love is a healing force."
Narc. Magazine
When things take a turn for the dreadful, at least there's a whole new set of emotions for Johny Brown to articulate for us. Dreams Take Flight was recorded under lockdown and there's an extra level of anxiety to these songs, alongside Brown's eternal concerns - the wonder and furtility of love, the desperation and beauty in the prosaic, the power of art and music.
Musically, the album operates in familiar territory - a kind of lush, cinematic indie - but the arrangements seem a little more ambitious (Andy Diagram's trumpet and Sukie Smith's vocals stand out) and the band seem reinvigorated. Between the opening Ballardian horrors of This Is The Festival Scene and the reflective closer A New Clear Vision, there's a lot of magic here.
RnR Magazine
It's been well over thirty-five years since Johny Brown started his distinctive chronicling of our times. The ever-changing line-up of The Band Of Holy Joy - shifting focus from the distinctive accordion of Alfie Thomas in the late 80s to the glistening guitar of James Stephen Finn today - has maintained a constant sonic evolution to underline Brown's keen eye.
And so it is in 2021. Dreams Take Flight is a beauty. The sound is punctuated by brass embellishing a richly inventive rhythm section and guitar switches from Smiths influence to orchestral. Towering above is Brown's tapestry of reflections on the search for something better ('always yearning for the starts' in That Magic Thing) and the struggle to know ourselves ('to live is to choose but to choose well you must know who you are, what you stand for and where you want to go' in Notes From A Gallery).
It's accessible but always challenging too. There are moments of drama, beauty and conflict - much like life really. 'Change is a ritual state in me', Brown says in Notes From A Gallery. Long may it continue.
Uncut Magazine

Sporadically active for almost four decades, the Band Of Holy Joy have survived glancing brushes with left-field pop fame, releasing more than 20 albums and amassing almost as many ex-members as The Fall. There remains something gloriously, stubbornly heroic about frontman Johny Brown's faith in old-school DIY indie values, literary and bohemian, whether spinning Ballardian visions of a Fyre Festival-style dystopia on the scouring jumble-sale jazz-punk ballad This Is The Festival Scene or belting out Shirley Bassey-sized brassy chansons like When Love Is Not Enough. Pitched somewhere between Marc Almond and Jarvis Cocker, Brown's tremulous voice is imperfect but impassioned, just like his enduring support cast of hard-bitton romantics.
Deviation Street
I need to admit to being a bit late to the party as far as it goes with The Band Of Holy Joy. Certainly I’ve been aware of them as a recurring name amongst the innumerable listings of previous decades, and it seems a fault on my own part that ‘Dreams Take Flight’ is the first of their twenty or so albums that I’ve actually got around to hearing. Formed in south London at the beginning of the 80s, band mainstay Johny Brown has pursued his own particular musical directions regardless of consequences, or so it would appear. There again, ‘Dreams Take Flight’ is hardly the sound of desperation, artistic or of any other sort. What it is, is a confidently performed and smartly produced work whose songs, while they’re reminiscent of numerous indie stalwarts of repute, retain at their core the occasionally mordant although always expressive words and voice of Johny Brown, while the measured, even meticulous music that provides a backdrop to the vocal matches the lyrical verbosity note for note.
On what is their twenty third album, The Band Of Holy Joy reveal themselves as an impressively tight group of musicians while Johny Browns highly literate – and importantly, accessible – songwriting carries a mixture of dark humours, ideas and statements and also an emotive power, aspects of his words that can appear within a single song. The eight tracks on ‘Dreams Take Flight’ are an impressive reminder of the existence of one of the most underrated 80s bands still making music today, should you require it.
Louder Than War
It’s 2021 and Johny Brown has never sounded more alive. The eternally youthful leader of Band of Holy Joy has somehow managed to reverse the traditional artistic arc of most songwriters and performers by producing his most vital work almost four decades after the formation of the group in South London.
Dreams Take Flight finds Brown exploring the strange, dream-like mind-state of the pandemic lockdown of the last year, perfectly articulating the existential dilemmas and frustrations that united us all during the strangest year many of us have experienced in our lifetimes. Arguably the most lushly melodic Band of Holy Joy album to date, Dreams Take Flight consists of eight perfect and purposeful songs that stretch out as long as required as Brown explores his themes like a post-punk Issac Hayes or Van Morrison. Co-writer James Stephen Finn excels as Brown’s main songwriting foil, but there are no passengers in this musically adept group.
Indeed, Dreams Take Flight invites comparisons with both Hot Buttered Soul and Astral Weeks, in terms of its heady, melodic intensity. Lyrically, it feels like Brown has reached the pinnacle of the themes he has been exploring in an incredible run of recent albums, asking questions about the nature of existence itself and finding epiphanic wonder in the minutiae of everyday life.
Dreams Take Flight may have been forged in the disorienting strangeness of pandemic lockdown, but Band of Holy Joy have created a strikingly beautiful and uplifting album, timeless in nature, and marbled with perceptive insights into the human condition.
The Quietus

Surveying their path it can seem as though they have existed on some kind of ongoing artistic odyssey. Of course, there have been quiet periods but then they come barrelling back like an old friend turning up unannounced, demanding you drop what you’re doing and come carousing with them, and you know what? You never regret it. The wonderful fact is that for some time now they’ve been in ridiculously rude health, bestowing album after album of unique and vital beauty upon us almost to the point where their past, as rich as it is, seems like a prelude rather than the main act.
There is melody in plentiful supply here, even if in seconds it rubs up against searing intensity as in the yearning ‘Take a Leap into the Great Unknown’. Key themes and questions are held up to the light, examined and if not exactly explained then at least put in some form or order, with bruised but defiant hope at the end of the search. The message, if that’s the right word, is to feel, think, act. I think it’s fair to say Brown is not one for the passive response but he is all about showing compassion for the lost. This is a band on a quest, facing the brutal reality of life while celebrating it’s blinding glory. In this lies their power, leaving you caught between tears and laughter. Dreams Take Flight is another step into their future. Time to follow if you’re in any doubt.
The Devil Has A Hold On The Land
Youth Remix
Formed from the ashes of an unrecorded '77 punk band, Speed, Band Of Holy Joy's initial musical forays were largely in the domain of industrial bricolage and occasional bursts of madness.

By the time they began releasing records under their own name in the 1980s, the band's humanist tendencies came to the fore, with astounding portraits of people on the periphery, resulting in such classics as Rosemary Smith, Mad Dot and Don't Stick Knives In Babbies Heads.

The sharp sensibilities of founder and leader Johny Brown eventually led to a star-making deal with Rough Trade, a few near hits and career momentum shattered when the label collapsed mere days after what might have been the band's breakthrough album.

Slowly, a new Band Of Holy Joy has blossomed. The band operates, well, differently. In some aspects, they're an art collective. Inspired by the possibilities which burst forth after punk, the band's expression takes many forms. Visual artist Inga Tillere plays a large role in shaping the band's aesthetic and live events, and in musical foil James Stephen Finn, Daryl Holley, Brenno Balbino and Peter Smith. Johny's poetic vision transcends expectations without resorting to desperate reaches into esoterica.

The Band Of Holy Joy model of today is a sleek beat outfit that owes as much to indie music in the proper sense of indie as it does to the Brechtian connotations of past Band Of Holy Joy incarnations. They have lineage but never dwell on it preferring to forge forward. They have a history too but never let it drag them back. For the past few years they have been quietly growing and gestating and now they have emerged fully reborn with renewed purpose of sound and vision.

Johny Brown [vocals] | James Stephen Finn [guitar] | Peter Smith [keyboards] | Daryl Holley [drums] | Brenno Balbino [bass] | Inga Tillere [visuals]

2021. Dreams Take Flight [vinyl/CD] released on Tiny Global Productions. (purchase..)
2019. Neon Primitives [vinyl/CD] released on Tiny Global Productions. (purchase..)
2017. Funambulist We Love You [vinyl/CD] released on Tiny Global Productions. (purchase..)
2017. The Clouds That Break The Sky [CD compilation] released on Tiny Global Productions. (purchase..)
2016. Favourite Fairytales For Juvenile Delinquents [vinyl box compilation] released on Vinyl-on-demand.
2015. The Land Of Holy Joy [CD] released on Stereogram Recordings.
2014. Easy Listening [CD] released on Exotic Pylon.
2013. City Of Tales: Volume 1 & 2 [cassette] released on Exotic Pylon.
2012. The North Is Another Land [CD] released on Moloko Plus.
2011. How To Kill A Butterfly [CD] released on Exotic Pylon.
2010. Paramour [CD] released on Radio Joy.
2008. Punklore [CD]
2007. Leaves That Fall In Spring... [CD compilation] released on Cherry Red.
2002. Love Never Fails [CD] released on Rough Trade.
1992. Tracksuit Vendetta [vinyl/CD] released on Ecuador.
1990. Positively Spooked [vinyl/CD/cassette] released on Rough Trade.
1989. Manic, Magic, Majestic [vinyl/CD/cassette] released on Rough Trade.
1988. The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea [cassette] released on Cause For Concern.
1987. More Tales From The City [vinyl/cassette] released on Flim Flam Productions.
1987. When Stars Come Out To Play [vinyl] released on ByeBye Baby.
1986. The Big Ship Sails [vinyl] released on Flim Flam Productions.
1984. More Favourite Fairytales [cassette] released on Pleasantly Surprised.
1983. Favourite Fairytales For Juvenile Delinquents [cassette]

Extended Plays
2017. Brutalism Begins At Homes [vinyl] released on Tiny Global Productions. (purchase..)
2012. Wyrd Beautiful Thyme [vinyl] released on Exotic Pylon. (purchase..)
2009. A Lucky Thief In A Careless World [CD] released on Radio Joy.

Bad Punk
Resonance 104.4fm
Every Friday night at 10PM on Resonance FM. Processed sounds, esoteric tunes and random text. Occasional derives into radio drama and other mediums brought to a few discerning listeners by Band Of Holy Joy.

Tune in on DAB and FM within central London, or online worldwide.


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Band Of Holy Joy. Photograph by Bjorn Hatleskog, 2021.