One thing I know about jam bands is that they can play their instruments. No exception here with the multi-genre jam band Traded for Treason. On their recent five-song EP entitled Basement Jelly they fuse jazz with typical jam band tendencies. The EP is void of catchy lyrics, hooks and the things we look for in pop music. The music is at its best when it veers towards free jazz. Unstructured, loose and unconventional. God knows we don’t need another band trying to imitate Phish so all the hippies can get their drunken rhythmically deficient dance groove on.
This type of music is almost always served better live than on recording. The glaring example of this is Phish but also holds true of bands like Widespread Panic. Umphreys McGee and String Cheese Incident. Even though I’ve never seen this band live I’m inclined to say the same thing holds true here.
This EP has some good things going for it and some things the guys will want to try and iron out with future releases. Upon first listen it’s obvious the album wasn’t mastered properly as the volume of the songs vary quite substantially. According to my Dorroughs meter the first song is about 6 Bds louder than the third song, which is substantial. Let’s just say don’t listen to the third song at a loud level and then switch to the first or second song cause you might blow out your eardrums. Speaking of the first two songs these are the bread and butter of the EP.
“The Basement” and “Jet Fuel” display a technically proficient, sometimes creative, component to their music. The songs are indeed jams but have some inspired moments from the members. “Jet Fuel” was the most dynamic piece that flirts with blues style guitar. The piece displayed a solid musicianship from all the members. The biggest misstep was “Umbaway,” which sounds like more of a joke but was more annoying that enjoyable. The last track “Boop Boop Ba Doop” is a seminal piece revolving around guitar. I have to admit the guitarist pulled off some sick guitar scales here.
The band still has a ways to go in terms of recorded material. Basement Jelly is inconsistent and under-produced however it displays some potential within some of the material.
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