What’s not to love about a good power pop band and what’s not to love about Jukebox the Ghost, a power pop trio from Washington D.C. who up and moved to Philly on a whim just prior to the recording of their recently-released second LP, “Everything Under the Sun” (Yep Roc). The band sounds like Ben Folds Five if fronted by Rufus Wainwright, only less fey, with no bass player and with more Beatles-y harmonies. “A lot of bands here, like Dr. Dog, have a heavy Beatles vibe going,” said Ben Thornewill, about the musical climate of their new home. “I think that made us realize that it’s OK for us to wear our influences on our sleeves a little bit.”
And so they do. Aside from the many McCartney-esque tunes (“Empire,” “Mistletoe”), there are also shades of They Might Be Giants (“Half Crazy”), new wave (“Schizophrenia”) and plenty of poppy indie rock like the Shins and Mountain Goats. JTG even throw in some killer prog rock riffs, though they’re more Genesis than Yes.
As if their school boy looks didn’t give away the fact that the trio formed at George Washington University, their weird name should be a dead giveaway. It’s a mashup of Captain Beefheart and Nabakov references — and two more beloved collegiate subjects you’d be hard-pressed to find.
When the band stopped in Seattle on their recent tour, their live show was laid back and fun. They had an easy going vibe and they sounded terrific. Guitarist/co-vocalist Tommy Siegel had a pedal board full of effects, which he used to fill out the band’s sound with precision, never overplaying, and peppering the songs with sunny blasts of ’70s AM gold. Some trios struggle to sound full live, resorting to a touring guitarist or keyboardist to fatten things up, but like Ben Folds Five, Jukebox the Ghost don’t need it. They’re all good players and the dueling vocals between Thornewill and Seigel were spot-on. “I have a question for you guys,” Ben Thornewill said to the crowd. “Where should we get coffee?”
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