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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Jukebox the Ghost sets new standard for piano rock

The band will play at Cicero’s in St. Louis tonight.

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Spencer Pearson/Graphic Designer

Sept. 21, 2010

What does it look like to blend the energy of upbeat piano rock with the excitement of a new album and a brand new national headlining tour? Probably like a simmering pot of potential, as three-piece band Jukebox the Ghost brings its eclectic, fresh studio recordings to new audiences around the country. Throw in some tour dates opening for huge acts like Guster and Barenaked Ladies — and the fact that Jukebox has penned the coolest sounding band name this side of the Western hemisphere — and potential starts to boil.

Everything Under the Sun, released Sept. 7, is a creative blend of grand choruses, head-bopping piano rhythms and eccentric vocal melodies. The album is the first from Jukebox on a record label — their 2008 record Let Live and Let Ghosts was well-received but less polished.

The new record is not only shinier thanks to Yep Roc Records, but also more diverse and musically creative than the debut. Tracks like “Schizophrenia” and “Empire” call vocally to Yeasayer fans, while synth lines spread throughout and vocals from guitarist Tommy Siegel are reminiscent of Motion City Soundtrack’s signature catchy melodies. Keyboardist and singer Ben Thornewill is a classically trained pianist, Siegel listens to progressive rock and drummer Jesse Kristin uses a punk background to lay down catchy drum beats.

“We can barely agree on a staple band between the 3 of us,” Thornewill said. “It’s truly all over the place.”

Of course, with any piano pop rock band, allusions to big name acts like Ben Folds are also unavoidable — especially when the lead singer shares the same first name.

“We don’t mind it, we just mind being asked whether or not we mind,” Thornewill said, effectively putting a cliché journalistic question back in its place. “But there’s no escape from it. There are only so many points of reference to choose from (for a piano rock band).”

Jukebox is most certainly on the rise, recently playing the frenetic song, “Schizophrenia,” on the Late Show with David Letterman.

The band is currently embarking on its first national headlining tour and will be coming through St. Louis at Cicero’s on Sept. 21 supporting Everything Under the Sun.

Thornewill is very excited about the positive reception of the record he’s gotten and what that means for the band’s future.

“We’re thrilled with it,” Thornewill said. “It was a long time in the making. We’re already thinking down the line -— what do we do next?”

Down the road, Jukebox’s catchy, well-crafted songs and energetic live performances give them the potential to be a big name on the indie scene. For now, though, they continue to take it show by show —- 37 times, to be exact —- until the end of their current tour.

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