Jukebox the Ghost
Savoir Adore, Tereu Tereu
815 V St. NW
Washington, DC, 20001
Jukebox the Ghost
Jukebox the Ghost’s third album Safe Travels marks a period in the band’s that’s steeped in change, both personally and professionally. Relationships dissolved and crumbled. Loved ones passed on. The band themselves relocated from Philadelphia to New York City and played over 200 shows since the release of their last album in 2010. In the midst of so much change, the band spent months in the studio creating what would become “Safe Travels”, a record that represents a shift in the band’s creative trajectory.
“It felt like the music was finally growing with us — Songs that relate to who we are as people right now, not who we were when we were 19 or 20,” Siegel said. “This record is more heartfelt; part of that came from not worrying about exactly what kind of music we were supposed to be making and instead just working on songs that felt genuine and natural at the time.”
Safe Travels, at its core, represents three people going through universal life changes – A way of coping with how quickly things can turn around, for good and bad. And though it’s clear their sound and outlook have matured to addressing some darker subject material, their brand of upbeat pop still remains intact.
“We’ve always been the kind of band that juxtaposes darker lyrics with upbeat music, but this record feels a little more personal,” Thornewill said. “In the grand scheme of things, it’s certainly not a downer record but you need pain to get joy, and joy to get pain; they’re inseparable.”
Bolstered by an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, an appearance at Lollapalooza, and extended opening tours with Ben Folds, Guster, Adam Green and Jack’s Mannequin, the band has acquired an incredibly loyal (and sometimes rabid) fanbase since the release of 2008’s “Let Live and Let Ghosts”. Over the years, Jukebox the Ghost has maintained a tour schedule that most bands would balk at, playing over 150 shows a year and becoming a well-oiled, high energy live band. This summer, the band embarks on their biggest headline tour to date after performing at Bonnaroo on the album’s release weekend — Their Bowery Ballroom show in June has already sold out two months in advance.
“Safe Travels” also marks the first time that the band had been afforded unlimited studio time. The sessions took place in Brooklyn, with their friend Dan Romer (Ingrid Michaelson, Jenny Owens Young) producing and engineering. The result is a collection of 13 songs that finds the band maturing both musically and lyrically. The band was also able to work with a string section for the first time, which gave Thornewill the chance to flex his compositional skills and formal classical training.
They’d be the first to admit that their previous two records had a charming, “hyperactive” quality about them, but you don’t get that sense here. There’s a balance between the peppy piano pop of songs like the album’s upbeat opener “Somebody”, the bouncy synth-pop of “Oh, Emily” and the radio-ready drama of “Don’t Let Me Fall Behind” to more poignant, contemplative songs in the album’s second half that represent the band’s desire to travel into new sonic territory.
“In the past Ben and Tommy sometimes wrote from various fictional perspectives” says drummer Jesse Kristin, “but the songs on this album feel closer, more personal, and steeped in actual life experiences.”
This creative shift is best exemplified by “Dead,” “Adulthood,” “Ghosts in Empty Houses,” and “The Spiritual” – songs that deal with death and mortality head on, with an immediacy that was masked on previous albums.
“Adulthood” was initially a difficult song for Thornewill to perform. Written before his grandfather’s death from lung cancer, the line “In my lungs I still feel young” was painfully prophetic and the overall message that “from adulthood, no one survives” became all too real. “Dead” approaches a similar theme with understated elegance. The song begins with Siegel’s innocent, boyish croon over a ghostly drone and builds into a climax with post-rock ferocity entirely new to the band’s catalogue.
“Even though we’re tackling some difficult themes this go-round, we’re still a band that wants people to feel good,” said Tommy. “We’re the same upbeat band we’ve always been, but we’re firm believers that pop music can have depth.”
Ask Brooklyn’s Jukebox the Ghost why their third album is called ”Safe Travels,” on a surface level, it’s likely they’ll tell you about a song by Austin’s Red Hunter, who performs as Peter and the Wolf. The song, from his 2006 album ”Lightness” became something of a mantra for the band. ”Since we’re always in new cities and away from the people we love, that song really hit home for us,” said Ben. “It was a song that represented saying goodbye.”
On “Safe Travels”, Jukebox the Ghost manages to contrast these darker themes with the same optimistic sound and a familiar sense of youthfulness that stays true to their core.
On “Dreamers,” the dance-laden lullaby and lead single from Savoir Adore’s new album Our Nature, Paul Hammer and Deidre Muro invite listeners into a magical dream world. Such worlds are nothing new to the fantasy pop duo, who inadvertently became a fixture of Brooklyn’s indie scene as the result of a dare. In 2007, as disheartened solo artists, they whimsically retreated out of the city to a rural studio with two rules: “48 hours. No acoustic guitars.” They returned with The Adventures of Mr. Pumpernickel and The Girl with Animals in Her Throat (Cantora), a concept-driven EP set in a fairy tale land that narrates the tragedy of Gloria and her unrequited love. On 2009’s full length In The Wooded Forest (Cantora), they expounded on the EP’s mythical landscape. But where Savoir Adore’s previous releases have surveyed these worlds at a distance, Our Nature zooms in, putting our inner landscapes and relationships at the core of every track. In that vein, the recordings themselves are intentionally more crisp, aurally expansive and intriguing.
Our Nature itself is both a collection of catchy indie pop songs and a dramatic narrative. “Dreamers” functions as its prologue; on it, Muro insists her subject not worry and “keep on sleeping,” while Hammer confronts the inevitable transience of dreaming: “Where we are isn’t just a place where everything remains.” And so Our Nature thrusts into its tenuous drama: the unlikely love story of Girl and Monster (“Loveliest Creature”). At times as fantastical as its premise (“Regalia,” “Sea of Gold”), at others as accessible as radio pop (“Sparrow,” “Anywhere You Go”), the album seamlessly blends ‘60s invasion, ‘80s new wave and ‘90s alternative with a more contemporary, digital creative process. Others have recognized Savoir Adore’s sound as “musically and lyrically brave” (NME) and “irresistibly melodic indie pop” (Nylon). In 2009 and 2010, The L Magazine and The New York Post both named the band to their top bands to watch lists. So now, look no further. After two years of finding inspiration in a wide range of experiences, from neuroscience lectures to tales as old as time, Savoir Adore is back with Our Nature.
Muro and Hammer were both born into musical households. Muro’s father is an electronic music writer and performer, her mother an organist, and her brother a composer. Muro herself learned to play the piano and violin and trained as a jazz vocalist while also in her mother’s church choir. When she arrived at NYU, she joined a songwriter’s club, which is where she met Hammer, who grew up with famed keyboardist and composer Jan Hammer (Mahavishnu Orchestra) as his father. While Savoir Adore often keeps their music playful, it is also serious work akin to keeping up the family business. Nowhere is this reverence more resonant than on ITWF’s “Wonderlake” and its complimentary number on Our Nature, “Sea of Gold.” On both tracks, Hammer and Muro ask big questions about family history and identity: How did I get here? Who am I now?
As an ambivalent reaction to their years spent in the Greenwich Village songwriter scene, 2007’s eccentric and unexpected The Adventures of Mr. Pumpernickel and the Girl with Animals in Her Throat was the beginning of the duo’s creative response to these questions about musical identity. After their two-day dare was complete, they posted some tracks to a MySpace page under the hastily forged moniker Savoir Adore, a French phrase that grammatically fails to merge “knowing” and “love.” The name stuck and the project gained momentum. Cantora Records released the EP as the band began to work on a full length. With the release of 2009’s In The Wooded Forest, the New York music press embraced Savoir Adore and set them on a path to expand their audience nationally and internationally. Band members Tim McCoy (drums), Gary Atturio (bass) and Alex Foote (guitar), who took part in Our Nature’s recording process, rounded out the band’s live show as Savoir Adore shared the stage with MGMT, Los Campesinos, Oh Land, and Toro Y Moi.
In the summer of 2010, the band toured the UK and France, including shows at Koko/Club NME and The Secret Garden Party. Their songs have been featured in various commercials (Almay, Citi, Yoplait), TV shows (Pretty Little Liars, Drop Dead Diva, Huge) and video games (Kinect Adventurer). During the 2012 Academy Awards, Tide premiered its new Tide Pods campaign featuring Savoir Adore’s cover of Men Without Hats’ “Pop Goes the World” (available on iTunes).
In late 2011, Savoir Adore offered a sneak peak of Our Nature, releasing “Dreamers” as a 7” on Neon Gold Records. In 2012, Savoir Adore invites lovely creatures the world over to join in their epic saga as they take Our Nature over the river and through the woods, down interstates and beyond!
The hooks are never easy, but the challenges always pay off. Love of ’90s indie rock pairs up with (re)visions of early post-punk, deep-seated anxieties resound inside interstellar echoes, heavy grooves undulate beneath shimmering melodies, drums make love to guitars, computers and humans coexist, and we all just hope to survive the digital era.
After years of independently producing bright, noisy pop, Tereu Tereu changed shape. Now a duo comprised of Ryan Little and Brendan Polmer, the band plays a dark breed of disjointed rock. Founded in 2006 as a two-piece, the band switched line-ups several times over the years and has since returned to its roots, albeit with a different drummer and a heavier sound. The duo incorporates samples, loops, and electronics into guitar-driven post-punk, toying with both laptop-assisted ambiance and Matador-style rock and roll. So far, the band has released a few EPs and an album, toured through much of the Eastern half of America, and played shows with bands like Ra Ra Riot and The Dismemberment Plan. Expect a new full-length in 2012.
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