More Late Night Transmissions With…, by Jaya the Cat
Suggested by Alex Hamilton
I do like songs about cats (Primus’s Tommy the Cat being a stone cold epic), but music by a cat? New territory for me. Although I could likely watch and listen to a cat pawing at a theremin for hours on end.
Having never heard of Jaya the Cat, I went into this like a blind mouse… but after the first few tracks, I knew I was in good hands (or paws). A deft mix of ska, punk, and reggae, with an expressive vocal growl and impressive lyrics, the album bounced along at an energetic pace, drawing me along for the ride. The lyrics, while hardly eclectic, concentrated on the Working Class Experience, which is right up my proverbial cobbled street. I’m an advocate for entertainment with more focus on normal folk, more Billy Elliott and less Denholm Elliott. The world needs more stories about binmen… they can be epic too.
The working class sensibility that underlies the album has a very British feel to it, almost as if faux-teen Jilted John has moved on from Julie and Gordon and started chronicling his depressing early twenties. After a quick Google, I was surprised to discover that Jaya the Cat are an American / Dutch outfit. Goes to show that showcasing the downtrodden can cross international boundaries and entertain. Seriously, though… more stories about binmen please.
Personally, the only fly in the musical soup is the lyrical dependence on booze and weed, which I find to be trite. You need a deftness of touch to pull such references off without veering into Scooby Snack Stoner Country, and while I was tapping my feet throughout the album, I did roll my eyes once or twice. Maybe it goes with the modern punk territory, but it’s hackneyed when overused. One misstep, and you’re a Macc Ladd.
I score the album a strong 8/10. All the songs have staying power, but my favourites are Voice of the Poor and Pass the Ammunition. I think Voice just swings it, but I’m sure my opinions will change with further listens. And I will be giving this more attention, as well as exploring Jaya the Cat’s other albums. They have a song called Huddersfield Rain… you can’t get more evocative than that. If it involves Yorkshire binmen getting drenched, I’ll be in heaven.