Last fall when I saw Swearing at Motorists at the Grog Shop, vocalist/guitarist Dave Doughman told a story about he friend he had in Cleveland who would use the phrase “Top jam” when he heard a song he liked. He figured it was a Cleveland thing, since he never heard the phrase “Top jam” anywhere else. He got a lot of blank looks. We had never heard of top jams either.

Since that time, I’ve learned to love the top jam, and I’ve co-opted the phrase as one of my own. What does a top jam sound like, you ask? This tune right here, “Swallowed a Pill” is a top jam. Listen how it begins as an easy stroll through southern gospel and folk. The drums come in during the second verse and the keys get a bit louder. That howling “Hoo-hoo” in the background, is your first indication that you may have a jam on your hands. Then, things get a little more hectic and vocalist David Moltz warns you, he’s gonna break it, and you know the breakdown’s coming, and even with that all that notice, the breakdown’s bigger than you expected. The Guitars are a blazing. The howlers are a howling. It’s a top jam.

Salt and Samovar – Swallowed a Pill [download]

Remember my ongoing dilemma about what to do with my Friday? Grog Shop for Beaten Awake, or the last show ever at Parish Hall with Mystery of Two. Well, it’s still ongoing. Salt and Samovar are appearing tonight at The Grog Shop with Beaten Awake and Black Girls, and if I hear more tunes like this one, The Grog may win out.

Salt and Samovar’s debut album Old Joy, New Joy is out now. Details at Salt and Samovar’s myspace.