"As long as you capture the performance, it doesn't matter how you record it." It's a saying Hawker M. James knows well, having heard it many times from the owner of the Western New York recording studio that's been something of a second home to James going on 15 years now. James finally shows his followers what those of us in his inner circle already knew: that even when James records on his beaten-up 4-track, he always strives for the production values that have distinguished his delightfully varied body of work, whether it's under solo monikers like Admirers, Mikey Jukebox, or as bandleader in The Mercies, or producer in acts like The Demos. It's not for nothing that James' songs have landed TV and radio spots 15 times -- including New Girl, Gossip Girl, Community, and KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic -- along with repeated appearances on the CMJ charts. James has been honing his songs into gleaming indie-pop/glam/rock 'n roll confections for almost two decades now. But well before he was called in 2001 by childhood friend Steve Schiltz to play drums in the then-rising downtown Manhattan act Longwave (a move that placed James smack in the middle of the cultural zeitgeist spearheaded by the likes of the Strokes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, took him to festivals around the world, and landed him in Rolling Stone magazine) he was amassing a wealth of original material on his Tascam 4-track cassette recorder. Even in his earliest days as a listener, James held production in the same high esteem as he held songwriting. For him, the two are inseparable, and since the moment he first took a stab at writing songs in his teens, James was shooting to bring full-scale production to his music. It just so happens that, along the way, he learned to use the 4-track as a shading tool. Of course, being the sponge for sounds that he is, he gleaned a lot working with Dave Fridmann on Longwave's The Strangest Things, mixing the Admirers project at Ardent Studios (the home of Big Star) in 2013, and having his first two Hawker singles co-produced by Joel Ford (Ford & Lopatin, Young Ejecta, Autre Ne Veut). But with this new album, James (who played most of the instruments himself) comes full-circle, going back to the endearing naivete of his early 4-track material but coming at it with the polish and seasoning of decades' worth of songwriting. On these infectious pop gems, textural, harmonic and rhythmic influences from the Stones, the Velvets, Bowie, Spiritualized, and Sparklehorse rub elbows with Alan Lomax, Nick Drake, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Stereolab, Jeff Lynne, and too many producers to list here. Make no mistake, though: This is not the trebly chicken scratch that '90s-era Guided By Voices made safe for the masses. James is a fan, btw, but he has always preferred to use the 4-track as instrument unto itself. An instrument with the versatility of a guitar or an amp or a pedal... an instrument capable of bringing myriad colors to his music. With the Hawker M. James album, he proves that, whether working with a medium budget, small budget, or no budget, his innate knack for songwriting, hooks, and production simply can't be contained”.
Kmase Storyteller's ft. Hawker M. james, Tim Avery, & Jessica Brown
with Tim Avery, Jessica Brown
February 25, 2018 7:00 pm (Doors: 6:00 pm )
Hawker M. James