I've never seen Space Jam. At the time of the film's release in 1996, I was probably too old to appreciate a film about intergalactic basketball games starring Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes characters. All I remember is the R. Kelly song, "I Believe I Can Fly." Still, the movie seems to have some kind of nostalgic cachet for hipsters of a certain age. And while I remember when Michael Jordan hit that shot in the 1998 NBA Finals, folks like my girlfriend do not. She does, however, remember Space Jam as "a fucking masterpiece" and "definitely the biggest highlight of Michael Jordan's career."
Considering these facts, I may be unqualified to review Come On and Slam, a concept album about Space Jam by local folk-punkers Sledding with Tigers. Dan Faughnder, the band's singer and main creative force, joked on Twitter in 2014 that he'd write the album if a petition to save the Che Café was retweeted 1,000 times. It only took a day to reach 1,000 and a year later, Faughnder has delivered on his promise.
Whether you've seen the movie or not, Tigers have long been one of San Diego's best kept musical secrets and it says a lot about Faughnder's songwriting ability that he could take such a whimsical concept and still churn out seven listenable and downright infectious pop-folk songs. I'm sure there's no other local singer-songwriter capable of making a ridiculously catchy mariachi-folk song ("Retirement") about Jordan's retiring in 1993 from basketball to play baseball. Nor do I think any other local musicians could compose a heart-wrenching ballad about the Danny DeVito-voiced villain, Mr. Swackhammer. And I defy anyone, fan of the film or not, to listen to the album closer, "The Big Game," and not have the chorus stuck in their head for days.
Come On and Slam has been getting a lot of attention on the web. And while the music has taken a backseat to the clickbait-worthiness of the story, I can only hope that the album serves as a primer for people discovering the rest of the Sledding with Tigers catalog. To paraphrase R., I believe they can fly and this record is but proof of their creative wingspan.