Jaya The Cat want you to enjoy their ‘Basement Style’

· Aug 8, 2001 Tweet

“I like punk rock, I like reggae and if you want to talk about heavy metal, it better be from the seventies and not the eighties,” proclaims singer/guitarist Geoff Lagadec on “The Wilderness,” a short, infectious track from Massachusetts act Jaya The Cat. The eclectic fusion of reggae, rock, punk and hip-hop has won the band fans from coast to coast and their latest release, Basement Style, seeks to please those followers.

Many years of hard work and tough living prove that Jaya The Cat came from humble beginnings, but they are hoping to break out with Basement Style. Formed in the mid-90s, the band honed their unique blend of music by playing keg parties and bars in western Massachusetts. The punk/reggae tone of the band caught on locally and Lagadec and guitarist/vocalist Dave Smith, the two founding members of Jaya The Cat, moved to San Francisco in search of warmer weather and a shot at stardom. The move almost dealt a crushing blow to the band and it wasn?t until the spring of 1999, after scraping together some cash, that the band headed into Slaughterhouse Studios and recorded 10 tracks that got such a strong reception from those who listened that Geoff and Dave formed a rhythm section, moved to Boston and cut the record that would become “Basement Style.”

This 18-track disc varies in its approach but achieves its best success with upbeat ska-laced tracks. The album kicks off with Geoff Lagadec repeatedly screaming the title of the lead song, “Are You With Me?” before ska-style guitar riffs fill the speaker on top of a deep bass groove hammered out by bassist Ben Murphy. The rapping/punk lyrics of Lagadec dominate the track and show potential for the band. Still, the song suffers in its lack of texture and repetitive structure, and sometimes appears sparse in content.

“Sh*t Jobs For Rock” explains exactly what the title offers. Homeless for some time and living in the back of a truck, Lagadec explains that rock is not always as glamorous as successful musicians would have you believe. Lagadec sings “Working sh*t jobs just to play rock, be what you are, not what you’re not,” but the poorly-mixed metal guitars and House of Pain-style rapping mixed with Suicide Machines-style ska creates a musical mess that would benefit from less rapping and a more focused ska approach. If the band is hoping to find some mainstream success they will have to work on this.

The sincerity of the lyrics and subject matter is not doubted, but between the moments of strength come poorly mixed raps that seem to drag the songs down from their upbeat backbones.

“Forward” opens with soft melodic guitars that recall Tom Petty’s hit “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” a bit too much before the song abruptly breaks into a ska rant. Like all of the other songs on the album, the brevity of the tracks and the verse-chorus-verse structure of the songs leave little room for the tracks to breathe and open themselves up.

“Painful Memory” is one of the strongest tracks on the album. It sticks to the punk/ska approach and maintains its upbeat nature throughout the song. The vocal tone of the lyrics seem to fit the track better than some of the vocals on other songs and for this, “Painful Memory” triumphs as one of the stronger and more focused tracks on the album.

Jaya The Cat keep their word?the album is truly “Basement Style.” The album suffers from a somewhat poor mix, a lack of variety in the music and the fact that the songs have to repeat the first 20 seconds of each track in order to make it to the two minute mark that each song seems to clock in at. The strengths of the band are their diversity, their realistic lyrics and seemingly undying passion for music. Lagadec and Smith fought homelessness just for rock and that’s pretty cool.

On their next effort, Jaya The Cat could become a force at the Warped Tour if they focus their efforts on ska and diversifying their sometimes over-simplistic style of music.


This article was published Aug 8, 2001 at 12:00 am and last updated Aug 8, 2001 at 12:00 am


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