Oooh, it’s been a while since I spent some time with Jukebox, a band that I was extraordinarily not impressed with at first and then enjoyed a meteoric rise to its clearly permanent place as one of my absolute favorites.
The album “Everything Under the Sun” was both my inauspicious introduction to and AHA! moment of being struck by a dawning love for
Juicebox the Toast Jukebox the Ghost. Hubs was away on a work trip and I was left to my own devices, dancing and singing around my empty house while taking four hours to get ready for bestie’s fancy-dress summertime birthday party. I was giving EUtS another go since said bestie had become quite fond of them and I trust her taste in music more than anyone else’s; “Carrying” kicks off the second half of the album, and it’s about when I perked up and realized this was some music that merited another try.
So much of what I loved about early Jukebox is on full display with this song: It proves how epic a piano can be if you let it get a little symbolically manic; human nature gets poked with a stick and dissected a little; there’s this candidly illustrated contrast of reasons to be discouraged with the world pitted against plenty of reasons to hold onto that last shred of hope; it is catchy. as. fuck.
Like any band that’s been around for more than a decade, JTG has evolved quite a bit. While I love that their current sound seems more and more influenced by their annual HalloQueen mini-tours (which is where Jukebox opens for “Queen,” who is also Jukebox but with costumes and modified-for-the-occasion facial hair and a full set of beeeyoootifully-committed-to-the-act covers), I love the early days of their discography being dominated by jaunty piano-rock songs about the apocalypse and sifting through the lies we tell ourselves. It is truly one of the most delightful chasms between lyrical content and musical execution that anyone with ears can enjoy. Like, I’ve been seeing JTG live at least once a year since 2015 and I don’t think it’s an overstatement to venture that no three people have as much fun creating music as these fellas do: It lends this richly authentic, weirdly enthusiastic joie de mourir to the music that is so uniquely theirs that it’s a shame to see it recede into the past.
But the live version is a lovely reminder that so much of what makes JTG’s evolution so charming and natural is nodding to the past as much as an keeping an ear to the future, and that the best bands are the ones whose early stuff is worth diving into just as frequently as their more contemporary work because it never stops being so infinitely, compulsively and satisfyingly listenable.