Release Date: Nov 3, 2009
Record label: Asthmatic Kitty
Genre(s): Rock, Alternative, Experimental
Phantoms, 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.
It aired back in 2007, but I still vividly remember the end of VH1's documentary "NY77: The Coolest Year in Hell", when the talking heads were mulling over what had become of the formerly dangerous and tawdry Times Square, placed in contrast to that historically accursed year. "They turned it into Indianapolis," Jimmy Breslin succinctly said. And more or less, here you go: Aside from David Letterman and the Colts, Indy gets a bad rap, when it gets a rap at all.
David "Moose" Adamson's third full-length release under the Grampall Jookabox (newly shortened to just "Jookabox") moniker covers much of the same ground as its predecessors, amiably mixing the wry, sophomoric, pitch-shifted vocal attack of Pod-era Ween with the white-boy beats of Beck and Har Mar Superstar. Like 2008's Ropechain, Dead Zone Boys revels in the kind of thick, two-dimensional sounds that populate most home-recorded projects, and its to Adamson's credit that the manages to balance the sludge with some truly inspired vocal takes and enough homemade clicks, clangs, and industrial (as in bombed-out machine shops and liquor stores) atmospherics to score an apocalyptic, Indianapolis-based first-person shooter, which is kind of what Dead Zone Boys feels like. Albums like this pretty much ask you right away to either turn it up or throw it out, and there's no denying the polarizing nature of D.
Indianapolis's Jookabox have gathered up all their clicks, thumps and layers to paint a picture of crumbling, suburban Indy. Lyrics explore the dying shell of once-noble suburbia: vacant malls, high crime rates and the phantom past of the American dream. Musically, Dead Zone Boys is a lo-fi patchwork of sounds drawing from rap, folk, pop, psych and electro-rock.
Led by Indianapolis-based songwriter/producer David Adamson, Jookabox (formerly known as Grampall Jookabox) has built a reputation for stitching together disparate elements from blues, hip-hop, folk, and punk in its Frankenstein-like quest to revive terrifyingly infectious psych-rock records from the remnants of seemingly incompatible genres. On its third full-length, Dead Zone Boys, the zombie-obsessed genre-hoppers once again showcase its unique eclecticism with an entertaining batch of freewheeling, nightmarish sing-alongs that always entertain and occasionally delight. From the first pounding tom hit of “Phantom Don’t Go” to the last pitch-shifted shriek of “Light”, the record provides songs as unpredictable as the one proceeding it, incorporating multi-layered doses of percussion, fat synths, and ritualistic chanting that sounds as if it was yelped by Animal Collective’s evil step-sister.
Depending 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.