Following in the webbed footsteps of Platypus - the prog-rock supergroup of sorts that released two so-so records before becoming extinct - comes The Jelly Jam. This trio features three-quarters of Platypus (King's X guitarist Ty Tabor, Dream Theater bass player John Myung and Dixie Dregs drummer Rod Morgenstein; keyboardist Derek Sherinian left for Planet X and a solo career). That means the Beatlesesque harmonies and odd time signatures of Platypus still sound familiar. Yet The Jelly Jam opts to stay away from the jazzier side of progressive and classic rock, instead indulging in trance-inducing space rock ("Under the Tree"), chunkier and heavier riffs ("No Remedy") and acoustic old-school King's X ("Reliving"). And then there's the aptly named instrumental title track, which plays out like a thick, dark and gooey space-rock jam session.
Tabor's lyrics, the majority of which are the product of his broken marriage, reflect an extreme degree of soul-searching he's never explored on record before. Although not as dark as Ice Cycles, the final effort from Platypus, some of these lyrics leave a bitter aftertaste. Take "Feeling," for example: "And it feels like I've been here before/Leave me my red cherry wine/And I know I'll be doing just fine/'Cause I'm keeping this deep heart of mine from feeling."
Many fans of these artists' main bands may deem this group a side project, but The Jelly Jam sounds surprisingly fluid, even though most of the 11 tracks here subtly incorporate elements from King's X, Dream Theater and The Dixie Dregs. Here's hoping this trio continues to view The Jelly Jam as more than just a flavorful treat spread on top of their other musical commitments, because this sounds like the real thing, dude.