Friday, October 3, 2008

The JAMES gang

What a joy seeing the criminally underrated band "JAMES" at the sold out El Rey Theater last night. The band recently reunited in what they are calling a 'second coming' rather thank comeback and it really felt that way last night. There new album 'Hey Ma' is getting some good write-ups (I was shocked to see it reviewed in Entertainment Weekly with a 'B' grade no-less!) and this was the 2nd show on their tour.

JAMES has ostensibly been around since the 80's and was another band touched by the genius of Tony Wilson (who pushed for them to open for New Order back in the day)and has had albums produced by Brian Eno. They're best known in the States for their single "Laid" which was their closing song of the night that included literally half of the audience joining the band (trumpet and violin included) onstage for a good old fashioned sing-along.

They played several tracks on their new album including the title track that features some pretty strong imagery about falling towers and "dust in the air" and includes the chorus 'Hey ma, the boy's in body bags,' and is more shocking for the jaunty way in which it is delivered. Frontman Tim Booth declared 'even our protest songs are uplifting.' That's what I've always loved about this group. Their raw, observational lyrics are always optimistic and honest, often a rare combination.

The press has never been able to categorize JAMES which is part of why they haven't reached the kind of popularity that seems like a no-brainer. The internet has once again given the ability to people to find out about this great band. I was kind of surprised that the show was sold out given most times when I mention them I get the standard 'who'? I was even more surprised and encouraged to see a well-rounded crowd of young hipsters, ex-pat brits, and old-guard music freaks like myself on hand. It was one of the more enthusiastic crowds I've witnessed in LA in quite awhile.

If you haven't heard them, definitely give 'em a try if you like genre-busting bands. They're writing songs now and promise another album to come as the second coming continues.