Jukebox the Ghost set the bar high with their debut album Live and Let Ghosts, and their follow-up Everything Under the Sun. With Safe Travels they completely clear the bar, and then some.
Jukebox the Ghost is a relative newcomer on the music scene, especially compared with a lot of bands on this list. Their first studio album was released in 2008, and they've been a frenzy of touring and recording since. A three piece outfit, JtG features a drummer, keyboardist, and guitarist/bassist. Ben Thornewill (keyboards) and Tommy Siegel (guitar/bass) trade off on vocal duties, and drummer Jesse Kristin mostly sticks to the sticks.
JtG is indie / power pop at its finest. They've absorbed more than 50 years of rock and pop influences and have taken it and brought something new to the table.
Continue reading "My favorite 100 albums of all time: #11 ("Safe Travels")"
The band behind today's album may have the distinction of having the oddest name in the entire lineup. Naming aside, the trio produces amazing piano-based pop, and Everything Under the Sun is a fantastic snapshot of their work.
The band consists of Ben Thornewill (piano, vocals), Tommy Siegel (guitar/bass, vocals), and Jesse Kristin (drums). If the band hadn't opened for the Barenaked Ladies, it's entirely possible I'd have never stumbled on their work. Luckily, I got there early and was totally blown away from the start of their set onwards. I picked up both albums from the merch table immediately after the set, and was not at all disappointed when I got home.
Everything Under the Sun is frenetic and bouncy from the start. "Schizophrenia" is off like a rocket with rapid-fire piano, keyboards, and Siegel setting down solid guitar riffs. Kristin is all over the drums, like the offspring of Keith Moon and Ringo Starr.
Continue reading "My favorite 100 albums of all time: #65 ("Everything Under the Sun")"
The sirens, in Greek myth, were "beautiful yet dangerous creatures" that would lure sailors to the rocks with their music and voices. The Weepies, as far as I know, have no habit of luring sailors to the rocks with their music – but Sirens could certainly do the trick, were they so inclined.
The Weepies are the second husband/wife duo on my top 100 list (Whitehorse being the other), though their style is more towards the indie/folk side of the house. There's also a strong pop element to their music, and if you listen hard enough you can hear subtle hints of 70s bands like The Carpenters in many of their songs. Deb Talen and Steve Tannen have their own sound, though, and while you'll catch plenty of influences, they're never derivative or repetitive.
To be honest, I'm not sure how and when The Weepies popped up on my radar. Most likely it was thanks to Scrubs, as a few Weepies tunes were featured in episodes of Scrubs, or maybe it was just in trolling Rdio and other streaming services for music that was similar to Imogen Heap, The Shins, and so forth. At any rate, I jumped on Sirens as soon as it was released because I was hungry for more.
Continue reading "My favorite 100 albums of all time: #71 ("Sirens")"
Liz Phair's Whip-Smart is a perfect Saturday afternoon album. By happy accident, that's when I'm re-listening to Whip-Smart and writing this post.
Whip-Smart is not a radio-friendly album, unless the radio station is an early 90s alt-rock station with a penchant for pissing off the FCC. Unusual at the time, Phair drops more than a few f-bombs on Whip-Smart, and Phair's songwriting doesn't produce a lot of accessible tunes ready to push out as a single anyway.
Sure, "Supernova," is an exception to this rule. Clocking in at just 2:48, it sports a chunky, fuzzed out guitar hook that makes the song as crowd-pleasing as they come.
Continue reading "My favorite 100 albums of all time: #80 ("Whip-Smart")"
Not only do The Barenaked Ladies put on one hell of a live show, they also have impeccable taste in opening bands. I've seen BNL live four times in the past five or six years, and they haven't missed yet. The past two years, they've had legends like Colin Hay, OMD, Howard Jones, and the Violent Femmes, but in 2013 it was a little-known Canadian duo by the name of Whitehorse.
Whitehorse is Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet, who have also had solo careers before getting together as Whitehorse.
It took about, oh, maybe thirty seconds before I was completely hooked by the band. When playing live, they make extensive use of loops and multiple instruments to get a full sound. It's fascinating to watch them perform, building the layers to their songs — while at the same time, their songs are completely irresistible. Continue reading "My favorite 100 albums of all time: #90 ("The Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss")"