Denton’s Bad James
By Caleb Stanislaw
The petri dish of Denton, replete with working musicians, student musicians, and the children of I-hung-it-up-and-had-kids musicians–seriously, your waitress can probably shred–has yielded yet another fantastic mutated musical beast. Like a baby dragon, eyes still closed, Bad James recently formed, rehearsed, recorded, and released my favorite fantastical creature: a kickass freshman EP. Bad James and the Glitter Heroine feels brilliant, I think because it captures the gestating life form; a band in its earliest stages is often the most energetic incarnation of itself. That energy is definitely present here. Everyone is raw and excited and hungry–the band is still trying to fulfill vague ideas about feel, direction, mood, dynamics. Glitter Heroine is a freaky, horned mutant moments before birth, and I can’t stop listening.
Each tune is a new, pulsating thing. The bass and drum work (Saxon Lewis and Josh Jackson) glues the erratic, schizoid guitar (Jade Owens) to the wistful but slightly deranged vocal of Carol Gonzalez. EP opener “Snake Boy Vs. Cake Boy” emerges and keeps emerging, withdrawing, spinning around and around until you’re not sure if you’re listening to a rock band or a transmission from Neptune. Full of stops and jolts and dynamic soft and loud places, the six and a half minute “Snake Boy” sinks its fangs in, pumping the listener’s blood full of Bad James venom. “Soft Place” feels drunk and pissed off. And yet there is delicious release in the closest thing to a pop moment on the record; a steep, resigned feeling cascade of layered guitars peter out… that is until Owens releases all that pent up energy, ripping into one of the most honest guitar solos I’ve heard in a long time.
These aren’t wimpy little songs that you should play for your kittens when its their bedtime. Nah, this is a good, meaty, freakin’ real collection of songs that keeps on giving the more you dig in. It’s great through headphones or blasted on the home hi-fi. Bad James’ songs tend long in a few moments–I get that; they’re a new band, striking out into new territory–but the length is never meaningless. They build with the block they have. In the future, I’d love to hear what some tighter, more thought out arrangements might yield. Until then, I look forward to enjoying Bad James and the Glitter Heroine, and I will most definitely try to make their next show, June 30th at The Fannin House.