The Jukebox Romantics
THE JUKEBOX ROMANTICS are in your face, fun, heartfelt punk in the vein of bands like Alkaline Trio, Samiam and The Bouncing Souls. Over the past 13 years, they have taken their talked-about live show from coast to coast including multiple appearances at Gainesville’s Fest, Vans Warped Tour, Pouzza Fest, SXSW & more.
JBR's current sound transformed in 2014 after they restructured to a trio. Since then, the band has embarked on several U.S. and European tours, further establishing their reputation as an extremely hard working band. Their last LP Sleepwalk Me Home was released in 2018 via Paper + Plastick Records.
In the back half of 2021, the JBR dudes are gearing up to drop new music and hit the stage with even more fire as they return to form as a 4 piece.
Since their debut album in 2009, the band has made a name for themselves by touring endlessly with ferocious, energetic live shows. By conveying heart and leaving their sweat and souls out on stage at every show, they remind you to have fun, enjoy life and never grow up.
Mike Terry: Vocals, Guitar
Bobby Edge: Vocals, Bass guitar
Mike Normann: Drums, Vocals
New York natives The Jukebox Romantics have been going at it for thirteen years already and are finally back with some new tuneage. These five songs were supposed to be part of a full-length, but the Covid pandemic swept the rug from under the band’s feet on that one. And as if that wasn’t enough yet, bassist/vocalist Bobby Edge decided to part ways with the band. So it’s been something of a rough patch, but you wouldn’t be able to tell it listening to ‘Fires Forming,’ which finds the band firing on all cylinders.
We were happy to premiere single ‘Time To Fly,’ which kicks off the EP. It’s a blistering start to a pretty solid EP, with its fast-as-fuck drums and an almost hardcore energy, not unlike something that H2O used to crank out back in the day. Next up is the EP’s other single, ‘Nora,’a straight-up pop-punk song that has all the ‘Dude Ranch’ era Blink-182 feels, especially in the verses. Meanwhile, the chorus begs to be belted along at future shows when we can finally have some of those again.
There is a lot going on in‘Dine Fleisch,’which is basically a melodic punk rock tune played with hardcore intensity. But there’s a ton of other stuff happening as well that I still haven’t wrapped my head around. It all gels together nicely though. Which can be said for the poppier ‘You Spin Me (Right Said Fred)’as well. And well, for closing track ‘Castaway’ as well. It’s like the band is trying to break out of its mold with these three tracks. It doesn’t work quite as well for ‘Castaway’ as it does for the other two, but it should be quite exciting where these guys will go next!
That's Good Enough For Me: http://thatsgoodenoughforme.com/23276/
Fires Forming is, first and foremost, bittersweet. A little backstory: the songs on the EP were originally planned to go on an LP. Recording in parts was curtailed by the pandemic, and a lot of things happened during quarantine leading to bassist/vocalist Bobby Edge decided to depart the band. A final hurrah in the studio and some rejigging lead to this transitional EP which is Edge’s last.
It is also pretty fucking good. So… yeah. Bittersweet as the core group that created the songs is no longer there and I definitely want to hear more.
So what do we get for it? Five new tracks, all of which sound excellent. Lead track “Time to Fly” is one of two that weren’t pre-release singles, and I can hear why. It’s one of the Romantics’ fast tempo, melodic punk bangers. The song doesn’t beat around the bush, with the vocals joining in just seconds after the start. Part protest song, part acknowledgement of the hyper-partisan political reality of the United States (“This is our generation / Choosing sides when lines are drawn“), it’s super fast and super powerful.
The pre-release single “Hey Nora”(which also had a BIG-themed music video) comes with a pounding beat and a built-in sing-along chorus that’s too catchy for its own good. There’s a bit of a breakdown that feels very early-Blink-182ish, and in a good way.
“Dine Fleisch” has a lot going on in it, and is likely the most aggressive song on the album. The composition and juxtaposition of the vocals, the quick changes… the “whoa-oh“s, and the chorus… Golly. I’ve always appreciated Mike Normann’s percussion, and this song is a showcase to what this machine has under the hood. It’s a dark an disturbing song, but when dark and disturbing songs are this exciting, well… you can’t not like it.
“You Spin Me (Right Said Fred)” has a strange name, and is the second track song that we haven’t heard yet. It’s also the longest song on the album and, for all intents and purposes, likely the… mildest (I guess, if I had to use a word), tempo. It’s probably the most experimental track on the album, and that may be a good or bad thing. Parts of it are super catchy (the “Go-oh Oh-oh-ohh” will be stuck in your head for days). The fault, if you choose to see it that way, is that there are several significant transitions in the style of the song, which tends to make it feel more like a Frankenstein’s Monster of two, maybe three separate songs. Some my find it OK, but I found the increasing transitions to be a bit jarring, especially the final one in the last 15 seconds or so. If I had my way, this would be at least two separate tracks. Alas, this isn’t Burger King.
Album closer “Castaway” also features stylistic transitions, but they feel more coherent as a single song than the previous. I’m not sure if this song was ever intended to be the final track of the originally planned LP, but it certainly feels like it should have. There is a lot to it and it brings the EP together into a solid crescendo of energy.
I’m sad to see that Bobby Edge has left The Jukebox Romantics, but if this release is the swan song for that era of the band, you couldn’t really ask for more. Thanks they will continue on, and have added two new members making them a quintet. If the future songwriting stays up to par with what is on Fires Forming, then things are looking bright for The Jukebox Romantics.
Colin's Punk Rock World: http://colinspunkrockworld.blogspot.com/2022/01/album-review-fires-forming-by-jukebox.html
New Yorkers The Jukebox Romantics released their long awaited new EP Fires Forming at the end of 2021. This was the band’s first new material since their split with The Sewer Rats which was released in 2018. I didn’t really start listening to them until they did a UK tour with our friends Triple Sundae in 2019, followed by a European tour in which they played Hamburg’s Booze Cruise Festival. I was lucky enough to catch them at that festival and absolutely loved their set. I also really enjoyed their Alkaline Trio cover set that they played the same evening. It was honest, heart on your sleeve punk rock that was written to be played in sweaty basements. That’s exactly my kind of thing so I was very keen to check out this EP. Christmas very much got in the way so now, at the beginning of January, I’m finally getting some time to check out Fires Forming.
The five track EP begins with Time To Fly. The track wastes no time in getting started, getting the EP off to a blistering start. Time To Fly is a real call to arms of a song. I don’t know if The Jukebox Romantics really stray much into the realm of politics that often but this track is one that really encourages the listener to stand up and rebel against the people who are supposed to be in charge and helping but are instead using opportunities to capitalise for themselves. This is such an uplifting way to start the EP. Up next is Hey Nora. This was the band’s lead single for the EP and they even made a fun music video featuring some wonderful dance moves. One of my first observations about the track was the pounding drum beat that provides such a thick spine for the song. It’s a simple beat but, boy oh boy, does it drive the song on. The song feels deeply personal and I believe that it’s about seeking answers on how to make the world a better place from a departed loved one. The chorus is a wonderfully catchy one that will have a room of people shouting the lyrics right back at the band.
The third track on Fires Forming is titled Dine Fleisch. On Punknews I came across a quote from the band’s Mike Terry stating that the song is about how we as humans have a choice about what we consume and how animals don’t have that choice. The song is written from the viewpoint of animals at a farming factory who are trying to plot their escape. Given the song’s meaning, it’s perhaps no great surprise that this is one of the heavier songs on the EP. I particularly enjoyed the intensity in the vocals, they really made me pay that extra bit of attention. The penultimate song on the EP is named You Spin Me (Right Said Fred). This song sounds like a bit of a nineties throwback compared to anything else on the EP. It shows that The Jukebox Romantics aren’t afraid to wear their influences on their sleeves. The chorus in particular reminds me of a lot of the melodic skate punk from the 90s and early 2000s era of skate punk. The track has a bit of a chaotic ending with a melody switch and some big harmonies. The final track on the EP is Castaway. On my first listen through of the EP this was the song that stood out the most, with its slow start where the band sing about wanting to get away from their home and finding somewhere better. Soon enough the song kicks in properly and we are treated to a mid tempo basement sing-along. As I listen to the song and read the lyrics, it dawned on me that the idea of leaving a town might be a metaphor and instead the song is about dealing with mental health issues, in particular trying to get through them before it’s too late. This track really has a feeling of a final song, especially with the atmospheric “whoa-ohs” that are included and the long fade out that gives you time to really think about the final lyrics of “get me out of this world before I run out of time.”
Fires Forming is a superb addition to the Jukebox Romantics discography. This really is a solid EP from such a solid band. I only have one gripe with is, I wish they had done an entire album because as soon as it finishes I still want more. Hopefully that’s in the pipeline and they’ll be back in the UK or Europe sooner rather than later. I’m keen for another shout-along.
The record I would like to talk about today is unquestionably part of my top 2021 list. Fires Forming is a highly anticipated extended play by The Jukebox Romantics, an energetic New York melodic punk rock trio that bursts with brilliant ideas and outstanding musicianship. It’s one of those punk rock groups worth checking out, and there’s not the slightest doubt in my mind you’ll fall in love with this release as soon as you check it out. This EP recently came out as a collaborative work between Engineer Records (UK) and Sell The Heart Records (USA).
Fires Forming carries five profoundly energetic melodic punk rock compositions. The labels and band heavily promoted this material with a series of singles, such as Hey Nora, Time To Fly, Castaway, and Dine Fleisch. All these singles ended up on an extended play, plus You Spin Me (Right Said Fred). Judging by the sound of Fires Forming, The Jukebox Romantics fully stacked this material with impressive ideas. The band continuously levitates between contemporary punk rock trends. However, it seems like The Jukebox Romantics pay some respect to the late nineties scene by stacking this material with some old-school moves. You’ll notice these guys are inspired by so many bands, genres, styles, and their music bursts with sheer energy from scratch to finish. Perhaps the group mainly explores melodic punk rock, but you’ll also hear some other subgenres like melodic hardcore, skatepunk, pop-punk, and indie. Therefore, Fires Forming contains something for everyone.
Each composition carries its vibe, but they also hold together flawlessly. At some points, you’ll get the feeling like each number is a continuation of the previous one, so Fires Forming is almost like a musical story separated into five parts. The Jukebox Romantics thought about each segment of this material, so every song sounds superb. You’ll be blown away by the number of melodies, harmonies, chord progressions, riffs, cleverly assembled basslines, and energetic rhythmic performances. Also, the trio thought about song structures, arrangements, accentuations, so the entire recording sounds like a pure melodic punk rock masterpiece. Even the lead vocals, background vocals, and singalongs are performed and recorded to perfection. It’s impossible to find any mistake in this material because it sounds so damn good. I highly advise you to check out Fires Forming EP. You won’t be disappointed. Fires forming comes on a 12″ vinyl record, but it is also available for listening/purchasing on all streaming services. You can choose between different vinyl variants, such as gold, violet, and transparent blue. Head over to The Jukebox Romantics Bandcamp page, Engineer Records, or Sell The Heart Records for more information about ordering this melodic punk rock gem.