Mix euphoric piano rock, fairy tale lyrics, and an abundant, almost unhealthy amount of happiness, and you get Jukebox the Ghost. Composed of Ben Thornewill’s Ben Folds-esque piano rifts, the electric frenzy of Tommy Siegel’s guitar, and the head bobbing drum beats produced by Jesse Kristin, the three-piece D.C. band create some of the most catchy, yet unique music currently floating around that crazy world we call indie music. In their first full-length album, Let Live and Let Ghosts, Jukebox exhibit this captivating, addictive, and every other synonym of “catchy” music in full force.
The first time I heard Jukebox the Ghost was way back when… in August of 2007. The George Washington University graduates were opening for Ra Ra Riot and Tokyo Police Club at D.C.’s Rock n’ Roll Hotel. Lets just say it was a pretty darn good show. I watched in awe as Thornewill banged the piano keys as if he was playing “Whac-A-Mole”. Kristin was dripping in sweat and by show’s end, he looked liked he was one step away from death. Despite their billing, rather unorthodox style, and at that time, relative state of anonymity, Jukebox the Ghost played with such passion, such enthusiasm, and such musicality that they left not only myself, but nearly everyone else who showed up early enough utterly speechless.
Some nine months later, Jukebox the Ghost are set to release their debut album, Let Live and Let Ghosts. (April 22 via Rebel Group/This Side Up). The 12-track album, composed of mostly new tunes, with the exception being the few that also appear on the band’s s/t EP, is truly a emotionally-laced, story-tale that is as frantic as it is pleasant, quirky as it is smart.
“Beady Eyes on the Horizon” tells the story of people hiding under rocks as God looks down, while “Hold It In” puts forth a close and spirited look at what the song’s title actually means. “Static,” easily the album’s highpoint, offers a rather unflattering look at society in chaos, achieved through the imagery of Thronwell’s word, “Mom and Dad wake, wake from the slumber becase/we’re going to burn down this mother fucker because” and anarchic musical progression.
No matter how many words you or I can use to compare Ben Thornewill’s and his ironically similar musical skills to that other Ben, the young pianist truly does give his best Ben Fold’s impression, taking listeners on a roller coaster of piano rifts. Not to be out done, Siegel and Krisitin are both exceptional on their respective instruments, which in the end, give the album an overall musicality that few other new bands can match.
In the end, Let Live and Let Ghosts evokes both the musicality and lyrical richness of a band that is not only immensely talented, but who also get it. Jukebox the Ghost know they’re different and they are ok with it. In a music world, where too many new bands are attempting to give their best impressions of the Strokes and Arctic Monkeys, Jukebox the Ghost have carved out a niche of piano pop rock bliss that is as good as it is fun. And for that, it truly is a “good day.”