Jim James: Uniform Distortion (ATO) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Jim James

Uniform Distortion


Jun 25, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Jim James’ latest blend of scruffy, lo-fi riff rock is a very specific philosophyinitially inspired by Duane Michal’s photo “The Illuminated Man,” found in a 1971 issue of The Last Whole Earth Catalogone that James has honed down over the course of his last three solo albums. 2013’s Regions of Light and Sound of God unlocked the horrors of drastic technological advancements, while 2016’s Eternally Even was a well-informed, psychedelic journey, capturing the ethos of a smoke-filled ‘70s soul lounge. But perhaps nothing prepared James for these blatant stylistic alterations like his 2017 covers album, Tribute to 2, where James expanded upon his typical George Harrison-worshiping tropessuch as 2009’s Tribute Toand instead headed into uncharted territory, going the length to cover anything from Ray Noble’s cult-classic 1934 jazz composition “Midnight, the Stars and You,” to The Beach Boys at their most artistically ambitious, such as the Pet Sounds slow burner “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times.”

What’s most fascinating about Uniform Distortion is the direction James takes his guitar playingtake “Out of Time,” a song that, as it begins, is nothing special per se, but just as the intro riff grows stale and sluggish, James suddenly falls down a rabbit hole, bringing you along with him, sounding like Crazy Horse-era Neil Young after blowing an eight ball, as a worldly, jungle floor-beat transcends into a blistering ray of gospel-like backing vocals. On “Throwback,” a song that’s equally dedicated to lost love and James’ own toxic experience with social media, it’s the closest thing on the album to a new My Morning Jacket song. James paints himself a renewed guitar virtuoso, not starting a new chapter of his absurdly lengthy discography, but an entirely new scripture. Uniform Distortion is James’ transition into rock ‘n’ roll royalty, a veteran at last. (www.jimjames.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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