Review: Jookabox; May 11, 2010; Howlers Coyote Cafe, Pittsburgh

Photo credit: MySpace

Jookabox are one of the many good bands that go unnoticed or get lost among a sea of newcomers year after year.

Their new album — the frenetic, catchy Dead Zone Boys — is part indie rock and part George Romero zombie flick — full of bouncy, upbeat rhythms, distorted vocals, and dark undertones.

It was a rain-soaked night in Pittsburgh, and the usually packed Howlers was empty. I pulled a stool up to the bar and watched Blue Planet on the flat-screen as I waited for the show to start. Right around the time a whale shark was about to swallow a diver, I heard Jookabox front man David “Moose” Adamson politely thank the small crowd for coming and ask if anyone could give them a place to crash for the the night.

Once the band members’ places were properly secured, Jookabox opened with “The One Thing,” a great introduction to their trippy sound. The psych-pop freakout continued as “East Side Bangs/Fades” and its driving, marching-band beat bounded the set forward. I have to hand it to them — a lot of bands tend to go through the motions when they play for an empty house, but Jookabox remained upbeat and played their hearts out. The show was only the first stop on their East Coast tour, but they sounded pretty tight overall.

The set’s highlights were the happy sing-along track “The Girl Aint’ Preggers” — which got the whole crowd doing a jig — and the Bear In Heaven-like “Gonna Need the Guns.” Despite the crowd, the band’s energy and care only endeared them to me more. It doesn’t hurt that they create indie-pop oddballs with hooks that leave you humming all the way home. When bands play with as much passion as Jookabox, you can’t help but root for them.

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