It’s not too often that I get musical recommendations from my mom. In fact, it’s pretty close to never- I’m pretty sure this is the only time it’s happened. Regardless, Lungs basically hits all the right buttons for me- badass female belting, vaguely psychedelic soulful indie rock wrapped around a spine of really solid percussion work (including tribal drums, which are basically my favorite thing ever). Flo does a decent amount of genre-hopping on this album, going from the harp and drum rockout of opener ‘Dog Days are Over’ to some almost White Stripes-y stripped down fuzz rock and then to straight up blues. The album has a very definite sound, however, and that’s due to the real star of the record, the Lungs of the title (like the organs, not a similarly titled track). Florence Welch basically sings the living shit out of every single song here- on songs like ‘Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up)’, the melody seems to almost take a backseat to her just going nuts and wailing: the melismas go in whatever direction she feels like, who cares how many syllables are supposed to be in the line?
I read in an interview somewhere that I now cannot find that Welch is a percussionist as well as a singer, and that her style is informed by taking the same approach to both instruments: “banging on things”. Even on the songs I don’t like as much as the others, her gale-force diaphragm is enough to elevate the music to intimidating, powerful and fucking awesome all at once. Her voice really ties the entire record together, the inspiringly maniacal yell-singing melting into floating falsetto and then smashing back in all over again is at once the perfect continuity between songs and the music’s most versatile characteristic.

Buy

and watch this:

~Julian

Advertisements

Let Live and Let Ghosts

Jukebox the Ghost is a fun band. Let Live & Let Ghosts is a really fun album. If you wanted to be a negative nancy you could be all ‘man this just sounds like some Ben Folds’, but that would just make you lame. Yes, they are a lighthearted piano rock/indie band whose singers often do sound like the aforementioned influence and touring mate (the pianist is even named Ben, too!), but their music is bursting with a youthful energy that has been lacking from Folds’ work for some time now. More importantly, these guys sound like a band, not just one really talented guy with a lot of touring musicians.

In this age of drum comping and perfectly-quantized rhythms, sometimes you forget what it sounds like to hear a couple of dudes play together and just be naturally fucking on-point, and that’s exactly what Jukebox the Ghost are. When you hear them whip out the snappy syncopation on songs like “Hold it In” and “Lighting Myself on Fire”, you can just feel that these are three guys who are very good at what they do and have played together a lot. It’s tough to consistently sell this kind of upbeat jauntiness over the course of a whole album, but this band is just so tight that everything is a pleasure to listen to.

Said jauntiness is balanced out by a recurring sense of biblical apocalypse in the lyrics, mostly in the songs sung by guitarist Tommy Siegel. It’s remarkable on these songs to hear the way in which the band takes such a rudimentary instrumentation (just piano, guitar and drums) and transforms it from the upbeat and poppy to the foreboding and dramatic, all the while retaining the same joyous energy that permeates the record. Never will you be so gleeful singing along to “mom and dad, wake from your slumber, because we’re going to burn this motherfucker down”.

Buy

~Julian