Two years ago at Santa Clara University three music majors, Nick Schott, Ian Earley and Ryan Rishi, first formed as a jazz band which played background music at chichi University functions, likely being set up to the right of the banquet table with the large carved ice sculpture of a swan. When they’d had enough of that they started playing funky jazz standards, named themselves The Dirty Dogs and started playing local dive bars. After a time of playing funk-rock covers they began to write funky jam band styled originals and since then have been soldiering forth under the name Jagged Light.
Jagged Lights debut album Bellomy named after a street in Santa Clara mixes equal parts funk and blues- laden psychedelic rock in an attempt to make songs that people in dive bars and at house parties can dance to. This dance-ability only rears its head near the end of the six-minute funk fiasco that is the Bellomy’s opener “Lend Me Your Rears.” For the most part the song is itself as silly as its title. Sure its funky, though one should expect music students of all people should know how to cop a style, but it goes on a bit too long. Don’t get me wrong, I know funk songs are supposed to go on for a bit, though until it reaches its end, “Lend Me Your Rears” really doesn’t offer much to lend ones rear too. Moving to the poppier piano induced “Break Through” has a vibrant melody and shares certain elements of Jagged Lights’ California brethren Foxygen. Next up is the mildly raucous Cream meets Sabbath stylings of “Different Intentions” on which each member gets to show his chops.
The band downshifts to a softer and funkier jazz-fusion on “Can You Stop My Heart” which closes out with a pretty bad-ass guitar solo that comes out of left field. Then comes the title track “Bellomy” which goes from sounding like the Bee Gees to the Allman Brothers without any warning. “Rhythms of the Night” is pretty standard in its jazz funk pattern and gets a bit boring after a while. “Reeling Again” returns to the poppy ballad form, which is where Jagged Light sounds best, and most like themselves.
There are some jagged moments on Bellomy, which are mostly in the transitions the band makes during a song, most of which run longer than five minutes. It illustrates that they are not always at home in the funk genre. Most of the funkier tunes here are somewhat hit and miss as far as structure is concerned. The standout tracks are the pop tunes, and I would encourage Jagged Light to kick the funk and get into pop. Anyone with a few guitar lessons under their belt and a pair of moccasins and a tie dyed t-shirt can play in a jam band. But the power of a well-crafted pop tune should never be underestimated.
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