Review : Grampall Jookabox - Dead Zone Boys
AdequacyDepending on where you live, you may or not have gone through some hard obstacles in your life. Sure, we all deal with situations that bring upon feelings of anxiety, anger and animosity but what if you lived in an area where racism, violence and hatred spread like wildfire? I’ve dealt with some of these issues through different instances in my life but never to the point where it would bring upon personal and emotional distraught. For David “Moose” Adamson, he’s adapted all of the aforementioned dilemmas into his music and it’s paid off dividends.
Adamson grew up in a harsh Indianapolis neighborhood and rather than joining in that harsh spirit of living, his spirit is alive and well with his energetically fun music. Dropping the Grampall, Jookabox have tightened their band without losing any of the idiosyncratic tendencies they’re known for. Dead Zone Boys carries a lot of the trademarks that have made Adamson and Co. such lovable characters: lively, buoyant and creative without ever shedding a shred of integrity, this is your same Jookabox.
From the opening drum patterns that pound through the opening of “Phantom Don’t Go,” it’s obvious that Adamson will be digging into seriously morbid affairs. Ethereal, with atmospheric landscapes and a wealthy dose of chattering voices in the background, the music is overtly creepy. And while the singers take over the drum pattern and turn it into a chorus that sings, “Phantom don’t go, stay with me-me-me-me,” this is new territory. It’s only fitting, that in the same chanting, jovial and romping spirit that the following song be the fittingly titled, “Don’t Go Phantom.” This time, the chorus is starkly different with Jookabox employing the chip-tune effect in a catchy method before finally slowing everything down to a deepened ending....full text
MusicomhOn his third album (this time dropping the Grampall and just going by Jookabox), Indianapolis native David Adamson delivers a freaked-out, genre-hopping mishmash of sonically deft and rhythmically explosive blasts for the funkily undead. Dead Zone Boys is the sort of album that goes as well with drop-topping through a demilitarized zone as it does with knocking over headstones in the haunted cemetery at the witching hour.
Adamson mixes genres and sounds, blending and pitch-shifting, looping and deconstructing to create his most focused (though it may not sound that way on first listen) effort to date. If 2008's Ropechain hinted at Adamson's genius, then Dead Zone Boys unveils it in its fullness and lets it run banshee-like through the streets. Adamson's sonic palette is as diverse as one can get, ranging from big bass drum hits to folk acoustic guitars to sludgy, atonal electrics and electronics. Throughout the album, vocals are shifted into inhuman falsettos and anti-helium huffed-out gigantisms.
And while the approach may rival any Bruce Campbell fronted B-movie in its slapstick bombast, the subject matter maintains a decidedly dark, and somehow disturbing appeal. On the one-two openers Phantom Don't Go and Don't Go Phantom, Adamson makes an appeal to the undead (this time, perhaps appearing as a metaphor for his downwardly urbanised Indy neighbourhood - but maybe not): "Phantom boys want to take your life away, and desperate phantoms wish to put you in their place." In Don't Go Phantom, he sings - in hypnotically high-pitched maniacal falsetto - "Don't go, phantom. I'm in love with you. I'll do anything you want me to do."...full text
TinymixtapesPhantoms, zombies, and evil girls (guhs), oh my: there is sometimes a very fine line between self-indulgent concept and clever, palatable allegory. Luckily, Jookabox (formerly Grampall Jookabox, and in both instances a stylus name for Indianapolis-bred David Adamson) has the requisite caustic wit and musical inventiveness to make this latest release fall squarely into the latter category.
Following 2008's bouncier, brighter Ropechain, Dead Zone Boys has Adamson and his co-conspirators upping the darkness and distress with effective results. Rather than coming off as a DIY R&B obsessive in the vein of Beck, this album has a distinctly industrial feel. While layered, tom-tom-heavy rhythmic patterns and otherworldly synths have been used on earlier releases, here they become the foundation of the album. Still apparent is Adamson's vocal pitch-shifting fetish, adding interesting timbres to the mix as the album progresses. "Phantoms Don't Go," however, kicks things off with the most unprocessed vocals that we get, coming off primordially with its wallop of drone. Other tracks share a similar aesthetic, but there are outliers as well: the frenetic "You Cried Me" is a nice example, sounding like a folk duo with one member on crystal meth while the other tries to calm her down.
But even among the songs anchored by those overdriven drums, a track like "East Side Bangs/East Side Fade" stands out as more noir-ish R&B than booming industrial. And the constant fluctuation of vocal tones gives the sequence of songs a fragmented, schizophrenic feel appropriate to the post-apocalyptic milieu it's striving for; it also puts it in a sonic league with those early tape-manipulated classics by The Butthole Surfers....full text
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