Photo by Paul Broome
I'm a firm believer in concocting the perfect soundtrack to life - stashing away some jazzy and upbeat and melodic tunes for all of those conceivable moments that could require music. Whether it's a single song for those moments when you get the incurable blues or a whole playlist overflowing with swingin', swayin', slam-dancin' pep, the power of music to change the rhythm of life is undeniable. The question is, what's on your soundtrack?
♥ For Electric Shocked, Bubblegum Pop, Clap-Your-Hands Moments
I discovered this triad of merriment no more than a few weeks ago when they opened for Ben Folds at an itsy bitsy show in a local college theatre, electrifying the crowd with repeating beats and swingin' tunes. Before the show the women's bathroom had been crowded with twenty-something girls complaining about how opening acts never made them want to rush out and buy their CD, but Jukebox the Ghost shocked everyone by doing exactly that. As soon as they left the stage, there was practically a stampede of people charging towards their tiny merchandise table!
Let Live & Let Ghosts is for those moments of chaotically sweet soda-pop bliss - for the upbeat anarchist spray-painting ten foot smiley faces underneath bridges and on empty walls, for tiny girls sipping down chocolate milkshakes in diners and trying to explain the Socratic method to bewildered strangers, for eight year old gangster girls in Converse and tutus, stomping around the playground and cursing like a sailor at anyone who looks at her the wrong way. It's an album about the confusing thrills that make up life, whether it be parking your car in a tow-away zone or surviving the apocalypse only to find, after the dust settles, "a better world than the one you left behind."
Preview (Hold It In):
♥ For Sweetly Surreal, Slow-Motion, Modern Day Moments
Ben Folds has been my personal hero for as long as I can remember (I've joked since the sixth grade that one day I'll get him to come to my birthday party), with charmingly surreal tracks ranging in topic from the club-life of gothic misfits to the daily failures of a college drop-out considering joining the army. His live shows have a kind of communal spark to them that studio-recorded tracks just can't capture which makes this album, in my opinion, one of his best. It's the next best thing to actually being in the audience!
Ben Folds Live is the perfect soundtrack for those moments that require flinchingly catchy yet down-to-earth ballads - for being chased down by the hypertonic scream of a cop car, or watching a car crash shatter in front of you in steamy, dreamy, mistifying slow motion, or daydreaming aimlessly to the haunting question of "What if? What if? What if? What now?" It's music for realists and daydreamers alike, for awkward teens and ever more awkward adults, for strangers and loners confused by the sleepy complexities of life but in love with them nonetheless. It seems that those thrilling je ne sais quoi moments that life quietly slips underneath us can always be filled in neatly with a bottle of beer and a Ben Folds song.
Preview (Zak & Sara):
♥ For Super-Charged, Ska-a-Go-Go, Save the World Moments
Whether you know it or not, most everyone with a toddler in the house has encountered the Aquabats in one way or another. As the creative geniuses behind the electrifying kids show Yo Gabba Gabba, their music has seeped into houses all across the world in the form of those tiny tunes that your baby sister won't stop humming. Their formal music, though, is far more thrilling, taking on the form of backflipping ska tracks with a full brass band and shakin', cartoon-inspired lyrics.
Perfect for thrashing, bashing, party-crashing moments, Myths, Legends and Other Amazing Adventures, Vol. 2 makes a ska-a-go-go background to a day spent playing dress-up with wrinkled costumes and kids bed sheets-turned-capes, or cannon-balling in on a hot summer pool party, or speeding towards the beach on an electric yellow moped, revving through stop signs and stop lights and crosswalks alike. For big kids, though, their music is the main ingredient to starting a sweet-and-sour slam-dance-mania mosh pit, no matter whether you're at a club, in a parking lot, or even thrashing through supermarket isles!
Preview (The Wild Sea!):
♥ For Mean Reds, Swollen Blues, and Bittersweet Happiness In-Between Moments
With songs reminiscent of flirtatiously dangerous noir flicks, black and white and splattered with streaks of chocolate syrup blood, Luke Doucet strums out harrowing tales of broken hearts and broken china, furniture tossed from apartment buildings in a steamy frenzy and sloshing glasses of bourbon and rum on the rocks. His characters are acoustic heroes, "martyrs and barflies" tiptoeing through a sepia city sparked by broken neon and shady, rouged girls in golden cocktail dresses.
For those smokescreen jazz-club moments in life where the blues and the reds collide spectacularly leaving you swaying and woozy, Broken (And Other Rogue States) provides a perfect soundtrack to match your haziness and transport you to a world of sleepy strangers and broken fire-escapes. It's a world of brick apartment buildings and swaying sidewalks, of restaurant powder rooms and young waiters in tuxes and a matching fez, of jazz singers and lit cigarettes and stiletto heels and black suited men. An album for dazed moods and bittersweet blues, Doucet lights up those dark corners of life with mystifying songs and swaying guitar solos.
Preview (Emily, Please):