November 01, 2005

The Jai-Alai Savant "Thunderstatment"

The 1990s produced a shitload of great but obscure punk bands. One of my personal favorites was a band called Franklin. This underappreciated Philadelphia band blended funk and hard-rock together with a dubby sensibility; at times, the band sounded like an edgier version of Jane's Addiction--in only the best of ways. Though the band's disappearance was sad--if not a little inevitable--it was always hoped (at least by me) that Ralph Darden would return with a new, even more impressive project.

Praise be, he's done just that. The Jai-Alai Savant is his latest musical endeavor, and it's equally as worthy and as wonderful as Franklin. Though Thunderstatement is a scant five-song, fifteen minute affair, it's definitely a powerful little record. Certain aspects haven't changed; though he's ditched Franklin's metal tendency, he's still got a flare for funky, dub-drenched soundscapes. When those rolling dub basslines of "Scarlet Johannson Why Don't You Love Me?" kick off the record, hands go up in the air and a "HELL YEAH!" is given to these returning heroes. When Damon Locks (from Trenchmouth) appears on "Diary of a Mass Trapist," it's hard to avoid going totally and utterly apeshit. All of these songs have a similar style--a little dub here, a little funk there--and though that might not sound very descriptive, it does the job for me, because this is Franklin all over again...except better. It's funky and it's wild and it's sexy and DAMN, you just gotta experience it to fully appreciate it.

This little release gives me a great deal of hope. The Jai-Alai Savant breaks the drought of innovative dub-rock (where did that genre go, by the way?) and Thunderstatement most definitely whets the appetite for the band's upcoming debut. If that record is half as good as this little creation, then it's not an overstatement to say that one band's definitely an early contender for next year's 'best of' list.

--Joseph Kyle

Artist Website:
Label Website:

No comments: