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Sweet James ::: Music by Randy James
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Reviews

Reviews by Scrutinears:
Radar Gun
 
Radar Gun by Randy James starts with a 3D intro and goes from 0 to 100 miles an hour in seconds, is this the perfect driving song or what?  The pulsating ensemble beat is the deal here, the whole band creates that pounding sound that leaves you feeling like you're hydroplaning down the interstate on some sort of rock and roll chariot.  The vocals traipse above the rhythm section on Radar Gun with a power reminiscent of Born to Be Wild. There is not one halting moment. the song drives, you drive........ down the road, nothing stopping ya. Then like an exhilarating amusement park ride, it ends, before you expect, and you gotta hop back on again for another jaunt.
 
This Powerful bass-led Rock song makes it's entrance via a stylised insect buzz in the ear but there's nothing remotely annoying entering through that particular orifice from that point onwards. Once the riff gets a hold it keeps you riveted, aside from maybe a compulsive head nod, and you just know you won't be disappointed.  Much of this confidence must surely be centered around the male vocalist's easy, almost raunchy huskiness - listen to the grit and honey in equal proportions as he sails through the very 'singable' lyrics like they're his daily bread, generously spreading the joy.  No big shocks for the listener, nothing to raise or lower a brow,  this performance is virtually a one note chant but of course that's perfect for the style of the song. The lead guitar sits back comfortably as if on a higher plane somewhere as it's weaving melodies filter down into the body of the song.   Occasionally it can hold back no longer and just let's out a squeal of energetic ecstasy ....... not unlike some of its listeners I suspect.
 

Detour Cathy
 
What an interesting lady is Detour Cathy! This Classic Rock/Blues/Big band production delves into her fragile characteristics - "a prisoner I wanna set free"  The initial musical honors are shared between the smoothly presented vocal statements and the bass heavy instruments, a combo of brass and guitars.  Those horns are a clever addition and give the production a big feel bordering on Jazzy in parts. Strong and clear lyrics are echoed 'off stage' and the chorus "Surprise (and thrice surprise)" has added backing vox to fill it out effectively. The rock hard solid, constant riff motors along with the rattle and roll of a well upholstered stagecoach leaving a trail of satisfaction in its wake. The cleverest stroke that Randy James has included in the arrangement is a sudden switch of tempo and mood - even violins are featured without a blink of the eye.  Detour Cathy has a wide appeal and manages to nail that elusive quality of familiarity yet originality combined.  The song deserves many a listen from anyone who likes to search out gems hidden in its granite.
 
The song Detour Cathy slides into a groove very quickly.  One of the best things about Randy James' music is that it never beats around the bush. You don't need time to adapt, the hooks happen fast. The main character in the song seems pretty quick in her own right, she caught the singer by surprise.  Seems she is quite captivating on the phone, and leaves a mark, she will never be forgotten. The harmonies in the chorus here grew on me, and the rhythm section came up huge again.  The vocal performance is excellent, especially in the bridge. The brass sound is a perfect compliment for the main riff motif.  The arrangement seemed to have a sixth sense in this one, the production took chances and they all worked out.  The ending came both too soon and at the perfect moment.  The main line "she never wants to be alone" stays with you, it's classic, maybe even more memorable than Detour Cathy was. 

POWERPLAY ISSUE 128 - FEBRUARY 2011 - PAGE 31
As a musical genre, alt rock always brings to mind grubby students languishing in squalid flats feverishly fondling their degrees. I don’t understand it and I don’t understand them. This five track CD, however, is not the shoe gazing, clever arsed bollocks I was expecting at all. The first two tracks,
“Better For The Crime” and “Get On Somethin’ Good” remind me of Alberta Cross and recent Robert Plant with that alt-country/southern thing going on mashed up with a big chunk of blues. “The Wanderer” is a harmonica driven boogie workout that would not be out of place on a Canned Heat album, and “Movin’ On” is quite Stonesy. Great voice too. In fact, for an alt rock EP, it’s pretty damn retro. The bonus track, a remix of “Get On Somethin’ Good” (not “Better For The Crime” as the track list states), would have had more power had it been left raw as a straight vocal and acoustic guitar session.

Multitrack Drifting” is bloody good. The potential soundtrack to a sunny Sunday afternoon spent with Mr Daniels sat in the back yard. Very definitely worth a punt.

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Room Thirteen (www.roomthirteen.com);
"Gorgeously diverse retro-rock tunes.." Read full review.

UBER Rock (www.uberrock.co.uk);
"Kicking off with 'Better For The Crime' and its smooth slide that's equal amounts of Led Zep and some bad mofo smouldering Black Crowes type of vibe going down with a decent build up to the chorus and a decent outro as well, in a old school UFO style.  Track two is a walk on the Stones side of the road with a rhythm that has more than a nod towards 'Sympathy For The Devil' with some decent vocal harmonies going on.." Read full review.

Rock Realms (www.rockrealms.com);
"The occasionally trippy 'Better for the Crime' is the best of the lot, and I can imagine this earning serious airplay in the right places. 'Get on Somethin’ Good' is more middle-of-the-road, but pleasant to nod along to. 'The Wanderer' is all about the harmonica. It sounds great. 'Movin’ On' is 1960s rock 'n' roll through and through." Read full review.

Reviews by Scrutinears:

Get On Something Good
 
It's always a good idea to title a song in a positive way, and after just one listen to Sweet James perf Rock track, a listener certainly feels like they will "Get on something good"   A clever band understands the need to impress from the top and Sweet James IS a band with great potential and a confident edge to their 'sound'.  No hesitation that good things are ahead from the first burst of energy that almost shouts "Listen, you'll enjoy"
 
And what can you enjoy?  Well you can appreciate a thumping bass 'hop' beat which draws you into the action - here you'll find perfectly placed, tight harmony vocals.  There is a dependable constancy - no need to strain to hear the lyrics yet they are not a particular feature either - you could say the melody was unchallenging but that would be unfair, maybe smooth or linear would better describe the feel of this song.  Nothing dramatic or emotional about the chorus or the bridge which both rely on a repeated phrase to emphasise the point of the message, but again this is just what the song requires to present itself to a commercial market.
 
"Get on something good" gives off a happy vibe, it's hard not to want to fill yourself up with the experience in mind and body.  A very satisfying production.


Better For The Crime

The production of "Better for the crime" is adventurous and different - 'Sweet James' shows a lot of flair and courage in the writing and arrangement of this medium paced Rock/Pop song.
 
There is what can only be described as a "strangulated" (not an insult) feel to both the instrumentation and the high pitched vocals.  The pinched guitar sound adds notable flavour, in fact there is some really sweet intermingling of all the layers.  The listener can choose how they wish to listen to this song as the mix is clean and well defined.  If you are drawn to the bass notes you will not be disappointed with the insert riffs.  If you are attracted to the rhythm you may hone in on the upward and downward 'slides' that shape the piece.  But if you want to hear the story you will be happy to hear the vocalist as he commands his place with a free rein and true, laid back confidence.  There is nothing too predictable, nothing to allow your ears to turn away.
 
Every element of "Better for the crime" must be commended, it is refreshing and original, a most sought after testimonial for an Indie musician / song writer.  A complete production which is practically impossible to fault - if the artist has more gems to back it up then surely he has a future in the business.

©2014. Randy James. All Rights Reserved. Email: randy@sweetjames.ca

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