Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Temper Trap and Jukebox the Ghost

College students don’t usually need a reason to go out, but nonetheless a planned girl’s night out is always fun. We put on our best outfits and headed down to one of London’s hottest clubs to see the most buzzworthy bands around. Every Friday night, London’s Koko Club, a former theatre dating back to 1900, hosts Club NME, showcasing the town’s best live indie acts and DJs. The impressive three story, decorative, open room looks impressive when empty, but even more impressive when packed to capacity.

I came to Koko on this particular Friday night with no prior knowledge of the bands who were going to play. Although the club opens at nine, it doesn’t fill up to about eleven and the bands don’t go on until almost midnight. In England, most clubs close around three a.m. because of liquor laws, but Koko is an exception.

The first band up was the Temper Trap. Hailing from Melbourne, Australia but currently calling London home, they can credit their success to an underground indie following, like those who came out to see them at Club NME. The Temper Trap have since developed a world wide fan base and their songs have been included in movies, television, and of course, car commercials.

The very first thing that struck me was their unforgettable guitar rifts, like the one found on their first single ‘Sweet Disposition.’ Halfway through the show I am convinced this is what it would have been like to be lucky enough to have seen Led Zeppelin live. Actually, everything about this band screams Zeppelin. For an indie band, they were made to play massive venues. Their live shows include entrancing lights, loud, heavy drums, and guitar solos that never get boring no matter how long they last. The melodies, although sweet, can be described as no less than epic.

Lead singer Dougi Mandagi’s voice is no less than completely impressive. It not only has range (his famous falsetto is the subject of many blogs), but can completely change form, sounding different from song to song. 'Sweet Disposition' definitely has the most memorable notes, but Temper Trap's second single, 'Fader' is the catchiest on the album. Mandagi's falsetto shows itself again with "Ooh Ooh Ooohs" that are impossible not to sing along with.

Their debut album, Conditions, is out now and if you’re an indie connoisseur, it is a definite must buy, but not everyone likes The Temper Trap as much as I do. The music is melodic and can be slow and some would describe it as boring.

Next up was the headliner, Jukebox the Ghost and they were all about energy. The band is heavy piano based which gives them a fun but melodic sound reminiscent of Queen, making them great to dance to and even better to sing a long in your car to. The songwriting and the lead vocals are split between Ben Thornewill on the keyboards and Tommy Siegel on the guitar with Jesse Kristin rocking the drums. The trio hail from the east coast of the United States (D.C. born and Philadelphia based) and have toured all over the world to promote their debut album ‘Live and Let Ghosts.’

Jukebox the Ghost have an almost child like feel to them. From the whimsical name that comes from a combination of a quote from Vladimir Nabokov’s Pnin and lyrics from a Captain Beefheart song, to the cartoon based artwork that covers their CDs and merchandise, Jukebox the Ghost create a sense of nostalgia that permeates through their songs. The album contains a mini rock opera that follows humanity at the end of the world, a reflection of the George Bush era that only recently ended.
The album manages to generate a theme without abandoning the ability to create fun pop music that is very hard not to like. ‘Live and Let Ghosts’ is out now, and their newest album, ‘Everything Under the Sun’ is scheduled to be released in September.

The Temper Trap will be playing the Pageant in University City on June 9. Tickets can be found here.
Jukebox the Ghost will be playing at the Firebird in Saint Louis June 26. Tickets can be found here.

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