Off to the Races Wins Triple Crown – Jukebox the Ghost

5 Apr

I’ve written about Jukebox the Ghost before back in 2012, and since then the band has matured their unique brand of anthemic pop and have built a sound that can only be called the “Jukebox” sound. The D.C.-spawned trio of Ben Thornewill (vocals & piano), Tommy Siegel (vocals & guitar) and Jesse Kristin (drums) are now on their fifth studio album, and, despite my overplaying of the infectious earworm Everything Under the Sun (2010)Off to the Races, which was just released in late March, may be the band’s best release yet.

The album brings Jukebox back to its creative roots, calling back to the first two releases (my two favorites) and creating more tracks aligned with this theatrical pop/rock sentiment. The band’s last few releases had a few tracks that worked under this lens, but Off to the Races fits it more as a complete piece. The album also features one of the band’s most ambitious pieces, “Jumpstarted,” which introduces the album and certainly sets the tone. The piece begins with a Queen-like layered vocal harmony and rapidly tickled ivories and transforms into a percussion-fueled, toe-tapping carnival of sounds – the song is a cavalcade of music (fit with creative vocals, call-backs, guitar solos, and electronic interludes) that even progresses into some a cappella. It is an immediate party and a bit risky – thankfully, the song delivers and sets the tone for the rest of the album.

“Fred Astaire” is classic Jukebox. It is a drenched guitar riff mixed with a strong vocal and consequent percussion. The song fits together like a Jukebox puzzle – it is catchy pop but done to absolute perfection. It goes down smooth.

“Everybody’s Lonely,” while different in tone, also demonstrates Jukebox’s grasp over pop tunes. The song starts as a call-back to something I can only term 1950’s diner piano and then progresses into a more traditional pop piece with crashing percussion and a swooning vocal. Thornewill’s piano diversifies this pop; he often demonstrates classical chops and this adds to the song’s success.

Another successful release for Jukebox The Ghost – perhaps their best album in years. Maybe this time I will actually see them when they come to NY; I tried several years ago but the concern was snowed out and I could not go to the make-up date. I need to see this band in concert!

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Keys Of Mine Brings The Sound of Luca Bash & Shines Musical Excellence

17 Mar

With Keys Of Mine, Luca Bash brings the elements of smooth jazz with an undertone of grit in his overall sound. Debuting after his CMYK project in 2015, Bash is back with an even more stylized sound. The Italian musician knows how to blend the varied sounds and exemplifies how a mixture of how the saxophone and keyboard hone in on the vibe of the album. It makes listeners awakened by the reflective and unique sound Bash brings. A wide range of content encompasses the track list of Keys Of Mine, with standout tracks of Your Tomorrow and Forever Like Asleep. Your Tomorrow brings out the musing side of Bash’s lyrics and sound and Forever Like Asleep carries heavy emphasis on pairing strong lyrics and standout musical arrangement with the wide variety of instruments highlighted in bursts on the album. Having a heavy musical background and not afraid to bare his emotions, Luca Bash gives Keys Of Mine his heart and soul.

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Ivan Beecroft Carries 90s Grunge Rock Into 2018 With Album Whatever

15 Jan

When audiences listen to Ivan Beecroft and his music, they can pinpoint how he carries the reputation of rock and runs with it in his sound. The overall tone of the album Whatever ranges from angst, to politically charged, and every mood in between. Minimalistic in sound and inspired by 90s grunge rock, listeners can hear the simplicity and rawness of Beecroft’s sound within Whatever. Before writing music, Beecroft worked in the steel industry. Within the album, reflections on work, the environment, and opinionated musings populate the track list. Inspired by the sounds of the Sex Pistols, Joy Division, and the Clash, Whatever spins a 2018 twist on the greats, Beecroft style.

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Riding a Moon Taxi Two High

14 Jan
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Photo Credit: Harper Smith From L to R: Tyler Ritter, Tommy Putnam, Wes Bailey, Trevor Terndrup, and Spencer Thomson

In the category of bands that finally got their due in 2017 is Moon Taxi, a band that existed prior to the original iPhone but has just now signed on with RCA Records. On the heels of the band’s fifth album (and first on RCA) which will be dropped in less than a week, I figure now, albeit a bit late, is the best time to introduce this five-piece Alt/Indie outfit to a growing world of listeners.

Moon Taxi follows a classic band tale, a piecemeal collection of bandmates through high school, college, and the local music scene. Stationed in music hotbed Nashville, Moon Taxi originally played a variety of music closer to jam rock, and this is where they cut their teeth with their first few releases – hence their casting as opening acts for bands like Gov’t Mule and Umphrey’s McGee. The band transformed with the times, taking on a style emulating the trend in alt/rock, a sound most similar to infectious riffs and creative instrumentation. This is where Moon Taxi found a true comfort zone, and this is reflective of the tracks that one will hear when listening to the new album – Let The Record Play. Already festival darlings, Moon Taxi is soaring to the, well, moon, and perhaps the greatest indication of this meteoric rise is “Two High,” a track that reaches the stars with its optimistic lyric and uplifting sound (count the space references in the previous sentence).

First released back in May, “Two High” has amassed more than 70 million streams on Spotify, which is most certainly in the not too shabby category. It’s success is for good reason also. The song begins with a saturated guitar riff – think brighter X Ambassadors. The vocal features that twangy southern charm that one expects from a Nashville band. The song has a couple of stand-out components that have helped propel it to popularity – one the horn fill in the chorus because everyone likes horns in Alt/Rock music (I’m surprised they are not used more) and second the slowed bridge with drowned percussion. Towards the end there is even some subtle Spanish guitar. It’s a strong track from what will most likely be a strong album.

Moon Taxi is a band you want to keep an eye on in 2018 – it’s time for them to touch the sky.

Content Updates and Reflection

7 Jan

When I started The Music Court nine years ago one of my first content-related posts was a “Song of the Day” – the one above, albeit a version from nine years ago and not from the summer of 2017. At that point I did not have a firm direction for the blog; I just wanted a space to demonstrate my absolute love of music; the Music Court has twisted and turned since then, seeing the creation of several new categories and writing of more than 10 authors, some of whom are still with us (Toria Munoz has done an excellent job, hasn’t she?)

It is rather apt that Colin Hay’s “Waiting for My Real Life to Begin” was one of my first posts because at that point in my life, a college student, I was literally waiting for my “real life” to begin. Nine years later, real life has gotten in the way of this blog so many times; however, it has persisted, because the love for music is still potent. And it will continue on; I want to use this post to just acknowledge that I am still here – even though I have not posted in a while, and I am going to try to do a better job to post more consistently.

The Music Court will focus more now on new artist profiles and the occasional concert review. Yes, I will, when inspired, still post about classics, but I plan on mainly profiling one new band a week. I will take on more alternative rock and singer-songwriters, while Toria will focus on EDM, eclectic rock, and other genres. Together, we will keep you updated and informed of some of the excellent sounds emerging in the music world today.

Stick with us; nine years and going strong – The Music Court perseveres into 2018.

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