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Eyes of the Fly

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Album Review

The gang-shout/demi-dance beat/sampling and distorted vocal blend that starts Jookabox's final album, The Eyes of the Fly, specifically in the song "Man-Tra," nicely sums up both the band and a general sense of the strain of early 21st century indie rock: group participation, a reach for the anthemic (even caught in the title of the song), and a central sense that it can't just be "rock" that is part of the overall equation. Even just the swirl of Moose Adamson's vocals, which are almost like a sweet and chirpy version of the B******e Surfers' similar fascination with the same — arguably making it all sound even creepier as a result — is enough to signal a sense of restlessness with playing it straight. Hearing dub echoes and frazzled (but still carefully controlled) guitar parts on a song like "Drops," or stately Roy Orbison-like fanfares and easygoing singalong paces on "I'm Slime," and hollow-beatbox punches and massed choral chanting on "Cold Solution" gives a sense of what genre signifiers mean to such a group: it's all something to play around with rather than to specifically honor, pay homage to, or flat-out clone. Sometimes this feels a little more off than other times — "Webbin'" isn't exactly anything screwed-and-chopped, per se, but it sure sounds like they're trying to create something close to that — but generally, Adamson and company don't take a wrong step as they aim for their own particular synthesis. The nervous vocals, quick interplay, and feeling of rushing through throughout the disc serve as the closest thing to a through line, along with the emphasis mostly aimed at rhythm instead of melody; abbreviated loops and drum clash and clatter, not to mention differing levels of reverb on both vocals and music, which make everything feel like something seeping through walls and equally crisp and clear at the same time, switching between the two almost song for song. Whatever Adamson does next in his already busy musical path, he's set off on one path of his work very well.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Formerly known as Grampall Jookabox (think "Grandpa Jukebox" as slurred by a three-year-old), Jookabox was formed as an alter ego for Midwest producer/songwriter David Adamson. The Indianapolis native developed a love for hip-hop at a young age, laying down rhymes over boom box beats on a four-track recorder given to him by his uncle. Those jams eventually morphed into an eclectic blend of blues-kissed psychedelic rock reminiscent of bands like Animal Collective, TV on the Radio, and Odelay-era Beck,...
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Eyes of the Fly, Jookabox
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