Here are some recent reviews....
"Sometime during the explosion of the digital do-it-yourself era, professionals like Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, The Byrds Rickenbacker ace Roger McGuinn and others spoke about musicians having little need to go into a brick and mortar recording studio ever again. With that idea in mind is singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ian James’ collection, Melancholy Nostalgia. Available Jan. 24, on the Blue FX Records label, James’ solo effort contains eight original songs and a cover from the band Hello Echo.
Right out of the gate, the opening track from Melancholy Nostalgia, “Wishing for a Friend,” emits a retro vibe, strong with a thick, trippy guitar tone. The song structure has a classic feel and rhythm, yet refrains from an all-out psychedelic excursion. The vocals, hard rock with perhaps a punk-ish infusion, are clear and lend a particular authenticity to the song, as well as to the general album. Cut number three, an album favorite, is the 2:40 “Bula Vinaka Beach Side,” an electric guitar instrumental which ends much too soon. The picking goes well up against the metered percussive beat.
There is no shortage of guitar-driven songwriting on Melancholy Nostalgia.” “Shooting The Pipe” is another fret-focused track, roaring with 2:44 of hair bending, nostalgic laced fuzz. Meanwhile, “Return Departure” exhibits a concentrated sonic heftiness. On other titles, including “Come-On-A-My-House,” (not Ross Bagdasarian’s 1951 song made famous by Rosemary Clooney), as well as Melancholy Nostalgia’s version of “Disconnect Me,” James is fond of having a wavering tremolo in the mix. In order to find out more about Melancholy Nostalgia, Ian James provided musicinterviewmagazine.com with some questions and answers about the making of the album.
Musicinterviewmagaine.com: Can you tell us a bit about single-handedly performing and recording all the songs on Melancholy Nostalgia? Do you sing and play the instruments too?
Ian James: Great question, thanks. The band is just me. I write and perform all the parts in my home studio. Instruments used on the album include a Zoom digital rhythm machine for the drums and percussion and a Fender Stratocaster and Fernandes Dragonfly for the electric guitars. I also use an Ibanez bass and a Yamaha EX7 for the keys. On the “Disconnect Me” cover, Doug Johnston provides backup vocals." - Music Interview Magazine January 17, 2020
"The last release Ian James put out was in response to an RPM Challenge. 2015 EP Cheap Real Estate is an instrumental effort, but upcoming album In Flames, out December 2nd via his own Blue FX Records, is more properly a follow-up to last year’s Fever Dreams EP. On it the Lowell, Massachusetts alt-rocker serves up nine tracks with lots of groovy and guitar-driven action.
In Flames sparks up (get it?) with “Too Late”, featuring lots of hi-hat and a cool chorus riff. “Blood from a Stone” comes next, putting some blues into the proceedings with interesting low chords in the chorus as a trying relationship is chronicled. “Past Escape” has what I’ll call juking guitar (think sports), and an outro that changes tempo. “Everything Will Be Alright” then surprised me immensely: it’s very slow, and I immediately pictured a 60s school dance with a live band. The vocals are effected throughout by what I’m 96.4% sure is a chorus effect, giving them a layered sound.
As we move into the middle part of In Flames, we get quasi-title track “Up in Flames”. The ride cymbal is the highlight of this one, which pings interestingly (TM!) as we’re told “the whole world has gone insane”. “Cause and Effect” provided another surprise, as it’s an instrumental – a weird one at that. There’s horn and…other stuff, definitely a more eclectic feel. “Let Go” brings the vocals back, and guitar that follows them. A sweet drum fill interjects in transition throughout, which is my favourite part. “Spotlight” brings in acoustic guitar and harmony vocals, but rawks it up with an electric solo too. “I’ve seen it shining in your eyes” is a great line from the penultimate track. Finally, “Sundaynight Blacklight” ends the album with cool delay on the guitar and more instrumental action.
All in all, In Flames is rock you can dance to. It has the groove of artists like James favourite Jimi Hendrix, and some psych touches that complement a basically minimalist approach. When it’s dropped next month it’s definitely worth firing up. (Get i-*goes up in flames fatally*) The Perfect Scene November 2016".
"Ian James is the musician’s musician. He is everything Clear Channel will not play. He is the guy who, years from now will be acknowledged as an influence of some mainstream success to which everyone will run out and collect his tracks claiming they knew of him when.
Ian James embodies progressive experimental rock with enough tenacity to maintain a grasp on reality and he is sure to turn a few heads. In the seemingly never-evolving world of big names being force-fed by big labels, a sound like Human Casualty is audible ipecac; it will cleanse you of the toxins you’ve been stomaching for all these years. It holds the power to wake you up from the Kubrickian nonsense; you just need to let it happen my brothers.
At this rate, he is building the groundwork for nothing short of an underground treasure".
-Greg, Nanobot Rock Reviews, March 2013
As a solo artist and one man band he expertly navigates the dangers that such an endeavor usually entails. It quickly envelops the mind and throws the listener back through time when the magical Wall of Voodoo paved the way for acts such as The Cure. But he never goes the new wave route; he stays on the psychedelic rock road that uses guitars as weapons and words with deadly precision. He means what he sings and he sings what he feels that needs to be sung. After a few spins the rhythm box becomes the hypnotic lizard nod in your brainstem and his voice the tongue that licks your cerebellum…
-JK, Stoner Hive Music Blog , May 2013
Ian James’s latest release Human Casualty is one fun album. James has a pop sensibility that gives his songs a cool urgency. James is certainly onto a new, fun, catchy sound. His beats, grooves, and electric guitar flourishes combine into something that just might go beyond an underground cult following if the music buying public opens its mind at this time and James plays it well.
- Bill Copeland, Bill Copeland Music News, July 2013
This sounds like the type of music that vampires listened to back when they were badasses, not broody pretty boys. At the very least, Ian James doesn’t make music that should be listened to during the daytime. A veteran of punk bands like Chanticlear, James has moved a few years forward on the musical timeline, making music that recalls ’80s British post-punk. Both the sound of his voice and the dark feel of the music recall a slightly peppier Joy Division. For the most part, there’s an urgency and tension to the music that keep things fresh. There are a few missteps, though. The pseudo-rap on “Getting in My Way” makes Geddy Lee’s rapping on “Roll the Bones” sound like Chuck D. Overall, it’s a solid choice for your friends with rainy outlooks. - The Noise-Boston, September 2013, Kevin Finn