Ever wondered what the warped and twisted offspring of Madness, Oingo Boingo, and Mr Strange would be like? Then welcome to the dark ska-deville world of Spooky Jefferson’s Ideal Lunchbox.
Entwining the revelry of ska with the insatiable temptation of psychobilly and dark hearted vaudeville theatrics, Spooky Jefferson’s Ideal Lunchbox is an irresistible incitement to question your sanity to. Hailing from Tyne and Wear, the septet is a full on drama and irrepressible mischief which through their new five track EP takes ears, imagination, and passions on a non-stop mystery tour. House of Dolls is a thrilling proposition which makes you wonder why ska and horror has not prolifically mixed before. Better late than never though, and if you are enjoy walking with the dead, aliens, and the kind of fantasies only the mind of Tim Burton can conjure, all to the swinging sounds of devilish invention then this is a band for you.
The opening of Spooky’s Lunchbox sets the Graveyard Calling released EP, a UK-based cassette/digital label, off in fine riveting style. A lone piano offers its haunted expression initially to tease thoughts and nudge the imagination. It has an air of a dusty run down theatre holding a steampunk breath of old and modern. The instrumental soon has the senses and thoughts embraced in its noir bred shadows, the keys continuing to evocatively colour the scenery under melancholic sax lighting. It is a mesmeric enchantment which leads straight into the celestial charm of Aliens. It is a coaxing soon immersed in a ska driven stomp, the steady rhythms of drummer Raggz Chandan hand in hand with the dark lures of bass cast by Rob Carrol enslaving an already firm appetite for ska. It is barely seconds before feet are jerking in unison with the jagged riffs of Allen Humes whilst the delicious expressive keys of Davie King incites ears and the flaming sax lures of tenor sax player Dean Wiseman and Ben Creaser on alto sax take care of the imagination once again. It is a gloriously striding song which if you ask us is basking in the attention of its alien abductors and their invasive investigations. The vocals of Kieran Jobling have a rawer less polished feel, his expression flirting and enhancing the drama of the scenario and song perfectly. At times the song apart from those earlier references has an essence of Mojo Fury about it and also for unsure reasons eighties punk folk band The Dancing Did. As eccentric as it is virulently infectious, the track is a riveting adventure which is as impressive crooning as it is running with nostrils flaring.
The following Do You Know? is another breath-taking instrumental dance, this complete with manic chuckles and demented urgency. Like Night Boat To Cairo off course and going through the tunnel of a Ghost Train, the track is inescapable bait for body and soul and it is a sad parting as it drifts into Freak Show. The track soon creates its own unique and seductive adventure though, to hold all attention and thoughts. Adding a carny like atmosphere with Jobling like a side show barker, the band writhes suggestively with its inventive bedlam of lyrical intrigue and musical unpredictability. Like the final blast of devilry for lost souls, the song’s finale is a crescendo of wanton melodies and lustful rhythmic lunacy which could be a distant cousin to those found in Cardiacs.
The title track brings the release to a close, a sonically sepia piece of drama linking it with its predecessor before the song dances into ears on its melodic toes led by another delicious tease of piano. Veering to the more folk side of sound, think Tankus The Henge, the track strides with an air of knowing that it has the listener in the cups of its hands. Melodies sway and caress whilst rhythms swing with a robust tenacity, and as for the brass they croon with a slightly melancholic breath to complete the soulful yet haunted landscape of the song.
With a healthy diversity and compelling drama across its tracks, House of Dolls is pure pleasure, especially if a rich dose of ska and theatrical madness is a tasty brew for you. Spooky Jefferson’s Ideal Lunchbox is not exactly creating a new style of music but they are certainly crafting a template as yet undiscovered.
House of Dolls is available via Graveyard Calling @ http://graveyardcalling.bandcamp.com/album/house-of-dolls digitally and on very Ltd Ed Silver-screen grey cassette.
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