ALBUM REVIEW: Jelly Bread's 'Here, There, and Everywhere'
Words By Brad Yeakel (Opti Mystic Outlooks)
I first heard of Jelly Bread when this album review came up. With my adventurous ears ready for some new sounds, I took on the task. The band was described as a “really good funk band from Reno,” and I let my mind imagine what they sounded like. For some reason I was thinking the band would be a young group tackling the neo-funk played by bands like Lettuce. What I got was a surprise.
The opening track immediately hauled me into a quasi- blues tune that brought to mind Tedeschi-Trucks. The vocals sounded seasoned, powerful and full of soul. They really were a highlight throughout the album. I had been expecting the shiny, bass-driven, funk… not the soul I was hearing.
The second tune was a bit raw in comparison. The chill vibe and relaxed instrumentation gave it a familiar vibe, but I couldn’t place a comparison. I did enjoy the lead line near the end which was somewhere between an envelope filtered guitar and a grindy clavinet. The opening riff of “Gotta Give Something Back” was much closer to the Motet/ Lettuce sound I was expecting. As the vocals hit, the combination was different. This tune was somewhat of a funk and soul melting pot, combining different elements from 40 years of funk’s history.
“Funk to the Left” kicked off with a bass-line of Les Claypool proportions, but quickly glided into a fusion of Parliament Funkadelic and the Sugar Hill Gang. The chorus was very synthy and had a bit of a Chromeo or Juno What vibe in the mix. The horns had been subtle throughout the album, but they were arranged tastefully, artfully, and complimentary.
“By and By” sounded like it could have been an early Moe tune. It had obvious Gospel influences, while hitting on a very 90’s energy. Interesting. I didn’t think it was the strongest song on the album, but I did think it served the diversity of the album, and was still a quality effort. The organ work and following guitar solo were short, but rich in tone and talent.
“Let it Burn” had the subdued, slow draw of a southern tale. The tune had a candlelight mood and an introspective sort of sound. The drums played some very unique rhythmic patterns I found intriguing. As the tune wasn’t a bluegrass tune, I wasn’t sure why, but Cabinet (a Pennsylvania bluegrass band) came to mind regarding the songwriting.
“In You” sounded like I had momentarily dialed in to a soft rock station. While the quality of the song was comparably professional to the rest of the album, it felt a bit out of place. I imagined sterile listening environments, like dentist offices, elevators, or other places where people play soothing melodies to keep people calm and compliant. The upside was that the vocals were featured like in a Withers, Robinson, or Vandross tune.
“Hole in My Pocket” may have been a huge hit had it been released in the mid- 90’s. The initial notes immediately conjured The Barenaked Ladies, before the song progressed through the land of Hootie and the Blowfish, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the other alt-pop-rock bands of the era. This song was catchier than a Gold Glove award winner.
The slide of “In My Head,” brought a southern, gospel vibe to the tune which was otherwise a stomper. Once again Claypool came to mind, though this time more in the guitar line than the bass. Odd timing, strange melodies, and overlapping vocals gave this tune a different vibe. Ultimately, it crossed into a groove that reminded me of a “Thriller” jam. Really a distinct song… unlike anything I have heard.
“Fixin to Run” was a tune of desperation… though the energy wasn’t sad, more just reluctant and hesitant. The vocals differed on this tune also, but they were still full of power and soul. If there was one thing this band nailed, it was the soul.
The album rounded out with a tune that reminded me of something from a Bill Withers album. The basslines, organ hits, and snappy drums really had a high energy for the sparse instrumentation which featured some really cool guitar work around the two minute mark. It was an excellent placement as the album’s caboose.
Following the theme from the title, the album seemed to touch on a lot of influences. As I listened to it unfold, two ideas came to my mind. The first was that it sounded like I was walking through a multi-stage music festival, stopping at each stage to catch a tune. The stylistic continuity was there, but the diversity of sounds really made it sound like each tune could almost be a different band. The second idea was similar. I thought, if a college radio station needed to “set it and forget it” for a while, this album could conceivably fool listeners that it was a radio show set-list featuring several bands. At the end of the day, this album sounded like it was sent from the past, collecting influences along the way from Here, There, and Everywhere.