Introducing Mr Jukes
Former cult band frontman, Jack Steadman, has reinvented himself: complete with a newly bald head and a new funky soul sound.
I was thirteen when Bombay Bicycle Club’s album “A Different Kind of Fix” was released, in 2011. Thirteen, with mercilessly-thin eyebrows, convinced that no one would ever understand me, pirouetting in my suburban hole of self-pity. It was eighth grade, which in the U.S. is the year before mythical ~high school~ where your boobs supposedly appear and hopefully some friends, too.
It was A Different Kind of Fix, that my awkward self craved. Bombay Bicycle Club and Two Door Cinema Club were the two ‘clubs’ that I belonged to that year. It was to the songs of these two bands that I learned to dance, knobby shoulders like a metronome. They played music that I could sing along to— smooth and boyband-y; fanciful, with those trill little keyboard inserts typical of Vampire Weekend. I finally saw Bombay Bicycle Club at DC’s Sweetlife festival in 2014, around the time of release of their final album So Long, See You Tomorrow. They provided a succession of reliable indie anthems; a band of cool nerds rallying an Urban Outfitted crowd.
Two weeks ago, in the bowels of Spotify related artists I found a Mr Jukes, no period. He’s got a Dr. Evil buttoned-up-ness to him, bald and bespectacled. To my surprise, the artist behind debut album God First is Jack Steadman, former Bombay Bicycle frontman, sans club.
The album starts slow, violins and haunting voiceover. According to a Noisey interview with Steadman, he wrote the opening track ‘Typhoon’ levels underwater, traveling across the Atlantic in a massive freight ship, soundboard taped to a table taped to the floor. The voice builds to a chant, reminiscent of the Les Mis war cry LOOK DOWWWWNNNN!!!! ‘Typhoon; becomes complicated, the chorus crescendoing “no more sweat, no more blood, only god, only god.” If you’re patient enough to get through a two minute build up, ‘Tychoon’ evolves into the perfect byte of what Mr Jukes has to offer with his first album.
There’s a hopscotch kind of cheery, children’s chorus feel to the album. The vocals are assembled like an echoing choir luring the listeners to join in. The sound has a street feel to it, like an old man bluegrass band that’s been playing in the same corner of a Brooklyn curb for years. Instrumentals ebb and flow like the tides that penned ‘Typhoon’.
The old school hip hop influence is omnipresent, notably articulated by De La Soul on Leap Of Faith. The collaborations on this album seem so deliberate, so distinct from Steadman’s former music self. He features BJ the Chicago Kid, known most for silky, seductive, serenade-your-clothes-off R&B ballads, and Charles Bradley a James Brown-esque powerhouse. The album is complex, the vocals are impeccable, the songs blend so well that I can truly call this an album review, it’s nothing piecemeal. There are just layers after layers of musical prowess and passion, making the album, as a whole, very easy to listen to until the end, as I’ve found myself doing for the past few weeks.
To see Steadman weave religiosity through his work, is a clear cut from the happy-go-lucky indie tunes of his that I’m familiar with. But, I love it. Incorporating spirituality into music is brave, mature, and current. Steadman has successfully differentiated himself from his former work. He’s evolved, and so (thank god!) have I, and now I’ve got some more relevant Steadman to keep me boppin through my twenties.
Don’t miss: Leap of Faith and Tears.