As the San Diego-based genre-defying neo-psychedelia quintet Jam 'n' Slate get ready for their upcoming album, they prepare listeners for the season's change with a mellow and deeply-personal B-side, embarking on a musical journey that's firmly rooted in a willingness to reveal the soul.
The neo-psychedelia quintet Jam 'n' Slate, who got their name from combining the names of co-founders James McNary and Slater Aiello, have been putting out their exploratory, constantly shifting brand of glittering psych music since 2018. The group, also consisting of rhythm guitarist/vocalist Kellen Rose, drummer Grant Gustin and bassist Nathan Goff, have an aptitude for the weird; they have proclaimed themselves "the only band to write a 16-minute song about an interdimensional egg god," a throne not many artists, even fellow psych rock bands, are willing to execute. However on their latest B-side "Two Twenty-Two," the group seems to be very grounded and distant from egg gods.
According to Aiello, "Two Twenty-Two" is a bit different than what you'd expect from the band. It opens with a field recording of people shuffling in and out of an elevator before swelling into a luxurious groove full of acoustic guitars, while the tone of the elevator bell turns out to be a bright synth that pops up throughout the song. With a melancholic folk styling at its forefront, one that's reminiscent between Beck's Sea Change and the Flaming Lips' King's Mouth, the single takes many explorative and cinematic turns. Between its spare neo-psych emotions to its harrowing chronicle dealing with heartache and distance, the single is direct with its songwriting and chord progression that powers through the trippy guitar passages and effects. Aiello's girlfriend, Isabella Layba, provides guest vocals and her voice is prominent on the B-side. Her gentle vocals soar over the lush, acoustic-driven soundscapes and holds enough romantic energy to make her words float effortlessly to the top of the mix.
Aiello told us that the B-side was recorded when he met up with Layba for the first time in weeks. And because of their long-distance relationship, the two decided write a song together. The result was a dreamy melancholy trip through the couple's relationship and thoughts of love, with an arrangement inspired by the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Crumb, Beck and Mac DeMarco.
"This bittersweet love song blends psychedelic pop and indie folk," Aiello said. "The stage of the song is set by throwing the listener into some sort of convenience store and production-wise, I wanted to create a specific scene and atmosphere for the listener. As the song drifts away and fades out, it almost sounds like it's playing on the overhead speakers of the grocery store."
With the pandemic changing the way bands would normally record music, Aiello has been doing much of the writing, recording and mixing himself. Even though he gets help from his bandmates through Zoom calls and group chats, he can't wait to meet back up in the "real world."
Jam 'n' Slate's forthcoming self-released album comes out this summer.
Stream the new single below.