Imagine taking all four of The Donnas -- KISS-off kitsch and metal queen mannerism intact -- distilling them down to one 98-pound weakling of a fellow who could somehow still manage to furiously wrestle a guitar and pile drive it into the mat. Now envision that fellow being something of a vaudevillian impresario with a penchant for sonic oddity, a flea-circus ringleader with a raging migraine, a misfit literate with a mile-wide libido.
“What are you looking at?” asks Jon. “This is a record album, not a picture show."
"Besides, you had me at, ‘taking all four of The Donnas.’”
Welcome to Au Contraire.
THE DEBUT ALBUM:
ASTRO-POP BOMBAST: '70s-infused radio vibe, with soaring melodies, smart lyrics, gritty guitars and hooks galore
mp3s: $.99 ea.
After years of laying in wait and silently honing his own fits of fancy, Jon James -- the Twin Cities' favorite sideman and sleeper guitar harlot - has finally stepped up to the vocal mic with his debut solo release, JON JAMES & THE TRASHCAN FANTASY DANCEBAND.
James is well-known on the Minneapolis scene, having collaborated with a large array of high-profile acts. But he has rarely put forth foot as a songwriter or bandleader in his own right. The Trashcan Fantasy is just that -- an imagining of what his dream band might sound like, in all their far-out idealism and awkward teenage fumbling.
But don’t be fooled. Hype is hype, and James seems to enjoy the deflection. While he revels in both tongue-in-cheek sensationalism and overly self-deprecating tone, the Fantasy is actually an impressive collection of straightforward, catchy songs and airtight performances. With smarty-pants flair, James offers sweet & sour three-minute anthems that meld elements of Brit Invasion, '70s Glam and Power-pop. In fact, while the retro feel is a calculated nod, James also has a keen eye for current affairs -- he lambastes the state-of-the-state by relentlessly poking fun at insipid pop trends, yet winds up sounding imminently "pop-ish." A gem of a debut album for lovers of old school radio, indie ethics and modern rock alike.