A Free Show with...
Jukebox The Ghost
221 N Columbus Blvd
Philadelphia, PA, 19123
Doors 5:00PM / Show 6:30PM
This event is 21 and over
Jukebox The Ghost
The appeal of a modern, on the rise indie band like Jukebox the Ghost is simple: They write catchy songs. On top of that, they’re dynamic, skilled musicians. The band’s records are carefully structured, yet wildly diverse affairs. And the live show? Energetic, crowd-pleasing, cathartic. The Philly trio’s new album, produced by Peter Katis (Interpol, The National) and set for release this fall on Yep Roc, highlights all of these elements over 11 tracks, each one leaving its own unique sonic footprint. But constructing and arranging the songs to their full potential took years of preparation, both on the road and in all of the basements, houses, hotel rooms and studios where the songs were born.
“There was never a lull in songwriting, even when we were touring.” explains guitarist/co-vocalist Tommy Siegel. “We went into the studio with 25 nearly-finished and arranged songs, and we put a lot of time into crafting each one. It was a conscious effort on all of our parts to mature as a band.” Since their 2009 debut, Let Live and Let Ghosts, a sunny, piano-led explosion of pop exuberance, JTG has logged hundreds of shows and thousands of hours on tour – all of which helped the guys develop the patience and perspective needed to deliver a
more intricate and serious second record. “Sometimes, in the past, we were received as being this bubbly and jumpy and happy group,” says Ben Thornewill, Jukebox’s pianist and other vocalist. “But this record seems like we’re sounding more thoughtful and personal. Besides, you’re going to think and write differently after 300 shows. People change, different things happen to you, you get some new influences, and the way you do your songwriting and arranging is going to be different.” “It’s not wrong to say we’re fun, upbeat guys,” adds Siegel, who stayed upbeat during the album’s recording despite scheduling it around vocal surgery—a by-product of spending two years on the road (note: post-surgery, Tommy is fine). “But we’re real people, we’ve had real troubles, and all of that’s going to affect us. Besides, I think the ‘happy-fun’ label was a bit of hyperbole
– I mean, half of the songs on our first record were about the apocalypse.”
Originally formed during university in Washington D.C., Jukebox the Ghost (the name’s an amalgam of Captain Beefheart and
Nabakov references) won accolades for that first record, Let Live and Let Ghosts, which Spin Magazine called “a refreshing
reminder that the lighthearted electricity of a fantastic pop song is still filled with live wires.” The band – Thornewill, Siegel and
drummer Jesse Kristin – jelled quickly, despite their disparate musical backgrounds in everything from classical piano to prog to indie to 80s Brit-pop. Collectively, the group delivered an unabashedly upbeat, playful sound with a sly dark streak (see: the aforementioned apocalyptic lyrics).
It all started with a Mandolin, a rubbermaid tub, and a batch of songs written while shuttered away during a year in a Siberia shared between two friends to birth what is now known as Norwegian Arms. With just these simple instruments, the group was able to give body and weight to their earnest, upbeat and thoughtful freak-folk. Things have changed since then, they've moved beyond the rubbermaid bin in favor of a floor tom (finding the latter more dynamic and less gimmicky) and added a wash of synthesizer, filling out their sound while maintaining their stripped down stage presence.
Although the two had been playing before mandolinist/vocalist Brendan Mulvihill was sent by the Fulbright program to Tomsk, Russia, it's easy to see that the defining moment in this young group's sound came after Mulvihill's return, when he, along with other member Eric Slick (of Dr. Dog) would rehearse in the windowless depths of the Ox, seeking to refine their minimalist sound.
People seem to find it difficult to classify the group, having said everything from 'freak folk' to 'mando punk'. But this isn't an attempt to make the music more digestible, for the group's songs are instantly memorable, well crafted, and melodically rich. These songs are deeply personal, and it shows. It's not hard to identify with the messages in their songs: a quest for self identity, adapting to new environments, questioning one's knowledge, and never being satisfied with what you know. It's Wanderlust and curiosity, distilled and neatly packaged into sonic bursts of intense energy. It's safe to say that Norwegian Arms suffers from a chronic case of the human condition.