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.
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.
But don’t be scared, this isn’t a horror or ghostly album in any way. Last year’s Ropechain gave in to Jookabox’s inner player with a few songs that were made just for the hip-hop ball and their debut was a blend of folk and eclectic experimentation; if anything, Dead Zone Boys is sort of like a mummified version of his previous albums with a hint of shrewdness. “Evil Guh” is a perfect example of this, with drawling background vocals and a stomping of chords, Jookabox is singing about the sordid sequencing relationships can take. He’s chosen to do it in a peculiarly spectral manner but for him, it works in every conceivable way.
Craftiness, when it’s this imaginative, can go a long way and for Jookabox, these bizarre ideas seem to work even when they shouldn’t. When ingested with a clear mind frame, Jookabox has the ability to overtake you and it’s no different on here. A few of the moments feature outlandish instances where the music is overblown, or maybe there’s some weird background conversations, or even the occasional head-turning sound mixed with an even weirder lyric but for the most part – for this vision and this expression – it’s successful.
In homage to his hometown, Adamson brings to light the dark community he grew up in on “East Side Bangs/East Side Fades.” Tenaciously scattered with tribal drums, the ominous working of synths and honest lyrics like “the devil won’t stop,” Adamson portrays his town’s influence in the only appropriate way he know: witty and resourceful. And again, it’s this kind of free spirit that prevails, in the end it’s what Dead Zone Boys is all about: a melting pot of loosely composed music that never loses any energy.
“Phantom Don’t Go” by Jookabox