Jukebox the Ghost creates some of the most adorable songs that I have had the pleasure of listening to. They are the kind of music that I would want to use as the montage music for falling in love, or the beginning of a good natured coming of age adventure. They also have created some vivid and haunted feelings story lines in their music. This three piece composed of Ben Thornewill (vocals & piano), Tommy Siegel (vocals & guitar) and Jesse Kristin (drums), met at George Washington University in 2003 and used played in a band called The Sunday Mail which was later changed to Jukebox the Ghost. Jukebox the Ghost may have released a self-titled album last summer, but we are going to jump over that and back to 2008 and their debut LP Let Live and Let Ghost for this throwback review.
Spin Magazine, in regards to Let Live and Let Ghost, called Jukebox the Ghost “a refreshing reminder that the lighthearted electricity of a fantastic pop song is still filled with live wires.” They are quirky, enthusiastic, and humorous. Their entire Facebook bio is just a brief history on former President Taft (hear me Derek Waters and Jeremy Konner? Get Jukebox the Ghost on your television program Drunk History). They doodle themselves when out on tour. They seem like the kind of people that would be a blast to be friends with. With three more albums under their belt since Let Live and Let Ghost (2008), including Everything Under the Sun (2010), Safe Travels (2012), and Jukebox the Ghost (2014), this feel good indie rock band has created a discography that stays true to their sound.
Let Live and Let Ghost opens up with a bang in the uplifting “Good Day.” Piano rifts quickly trickle behind the singer, which holds the main position throughout the entire album. With only three instruments Jukebox the Ghost presents a huge sound. A highlight from the album is the predominantly piano track “Hold It In,” a song about holding in feelings – of sadness, hurt, and most importantly love.There is a shift in “Beady Eyes on the Horizon,” it is a mid-album internal plot line about the end of the world. Beginning incredibly sparse and quiet it, breaks into aggressively sung apoplectic lyrics that tell “God himself dictated to me, ‘this is how all the shits going to be, when I blow your planet into smithereens’.” This plot line takes a break until “Fire in the Sky.”
Let Live and Let Ghost’s track list is made for either the most incredibly smooth transitions that you could want, or such a drastic contrast that it forces the listener wake up and to pay attention to the music again. “Static to the Heart” builds into a haunted chorus that mirrors the apocalyptic nature of the mini-plot line in other parts of the album. The fierceness drops off completely and the euphoric piano rock heard in the beginning of the album reappears in “Victoria” without a single look back. “Lighting Myself on Fire” is a love song about a girl that has consumed him “since [she] turned 18” complete with cute clapping sequences and slightly bridge that changes to a minor key before snapping back to present perkiness.
The apocalyptic plot line picks back up in soft and intimate track “Fire in the Sky” where the lyrics describe God having no other choice but destroying the world as we know it. The best song in Let Live Let Ghost’s mini indie-pop rock opera is the calm and sweet “Where Are All the Scientists Now?” that sings “it’s the end of the world la da da di da da da” with backing vocals that build tension until it is proclaimed that “we survived.” The plot line, and the album, comes to an end in “The Matter” where it talks about how much nicer and cleaner it is after the apocalypse. Even if the album isn’t organized in this manner, I’d recommended to listen to the story straight through at least once.
whether Jukebox the Ghost comes out with historically accurate music about US presidents or more great indie rock, I’ll look forward to whatever they release next even if it isn’t going to help me study. WIUX blog is covering Jukebox the Ghost’s show in Indianapolis next Thursday.
The track list is below:
- “Good Day”
- Hold It In
- “Beady Eyes on the Horizon”
- “Under My Skin”
- “Miss Templeton’s 7000th Dream”
- “Static to the Heart”
- “My Heart’s the Same”
- “Lighting Myself on Fire”
- “Fire in the Sky”
- “Where Are All the Scientists Now?”
- “A Matter of Time”