The follow up to their 2008 debut, Let Live and Let Ghosts, Everything Under the Sun is a catchy collection of a dozen songs. The Philadelphia-based (via George Washington University) trio led by Louisville native pianist, vocalist and songwriter Ben Thornewill begins the record with the piano-driven pop gem Schizophrenia that would even make Ben Folds enviable. Interestingly, Jukebox the Ghost opened some shows for Folds in 2009. The track has been getting considerable airplay on WFPK, and it's understandable why. It's definitely an ear worm as is the first single Empire.
According to the band's other singer-songwriter Tommy Siegel, he had been listening to a lot of Yes during the time he wrote the tracks The Sun and The Stars, so you can hear a touch of progressive rock 2010 style on the record as well. These tunes reiterate the band's ability to intertwine complex music with hummable three- and four-minute pop songs.
Carrying is the album's only collaboration between Thornewill and Siegel. (Drummer Jesse Kristin rounds out the lineup). It's a big sounding song; imagine the Ben Folds Five with a snappy guitar. Thornewill says he was inspired by Morrissey's lyric from The Smiths' song Ask ("Bucktoothed Girl In Luxembourg") to write the line "An Old Bowlegged Stranger." Sounds a bit like a Dickens' character. The Popular Song, perhaps the album's best track, sounds like a successful mix of Brit-Pop verses sandwiched between grandiose Queen choruses.
Although Jukebox The Ghost shares some similarities with the band Mates of State, they also possess a quirkiness that hints at They Might Be Giants and Barenaked Ladies. Still, after a few listens to Everything Under the Sun, you realize they have their own sound that includes some unique flourishes. That's the catch-22 when writing and talking about a new or emerging band. Music fans often ask, "So who do they sound like?" Such musical relationships are what made Rhapsody a website hit in the first place and what makes Amazon suggest recommendations for your next purchase. But it can also be said Jukebox The Ghost sounds, well, just like Jukebox The Ghost. On his solo music MySpace page, Thornewill answered the question "Sounds like?" with "Ben." I'm pretty sure he meant Thornewill and not Folds.
In a nutshell, Jukebox The Ghost is another quality artist on the YepRoc Records roster, the home to established artists like Nick Lowe, Robyn Hitchcock, and Rodney Crowell, younger acclaimed acts like Bell X1 and Liam Finn, and it's also the US home to British icons Paul Weller and Madness. Jukebox The Ghost looks like the label's next band to make a substantial dent in the music buyer's subconscious as they make music that easily gets stuck in your head.
The band plans to spend the next year on the road, perhaps matching the 300+ shows they did between their first record and the new one. According to the YepRoc site, their live show is energetic, crowd-pleasing, and cathartic. Just what we all could use on a Monday night to kick start our week.
And if you were wondering, their unique name is the result of a combination of references to material from musician Captain Beefheart and writer Vladimir Nabokov, who was probably last referenced in pop music more than thirty years ago by Sting in Don't Stand So Close To Me. Cerebral and fun; that's usually a winning combination for any group.
Tickets to the show which will include opening acts Hooray for Earth and Via Audio are $8 in advance at ticketweb.com and $9 at the door of The Vernon Club the day of the show. Doors for the 21 and over show open at 7:00, and the first acts takes the stage at 8:00.