James and the Cold Gun – It`s Mutual single review

There is no label I venerate more that Loosegroove Records. And no other label shaped me musically as much as this indie giant set up by Stone Gossard (Pearl Jam) and Regan Hagar (Malfunkshun, Brad, Satchel). In its day, in the mid-90s, Loosegroove released absolute gems from Seattle scene that were ambitious, avant-garde and defined grunge (or as we call it back home – love rock) as a standalone genre. Some of those albums are now sought-after cult classics: “Return to Olympus” by Malfunkshun (project by Andrew Wood that would later front Mother Love Bone), “Interiors” and “Shame” by Brad or two albums by Devilhead (led by Kevin and Brian Wood, older brothers of Andy).  One doesn’t know what Seattle scene had to offer unless you hear “Troubled Moon” or “Hanging Myself” from Devilhead`s repertoire. It is not possible to know the true power of music if you never experienced the brilliance of Shawn Smith`s voice. The label folded in 2000 much to my grief. You can understand my surprise and elation when late last night I`ve got a PR from which I learned that Loosegroove was restored and was signing new acts. Hallelujah!

James and The Cold Gun by Jon Wilson

Let me put it this way: I grew up with the label and the exceptional material they provided and I expect anything on Loosegroove to be up to the highest degree. It doesn’t have to be commercial. The point of the label was always to release music that had soul and brought something fresh and unique. And by those standards I am going to rate Cardiff based James and the Cold Gun – because their debut EP “False Start” will be released by Loosegroove on April 29th in association with UK based Venn Records.

The Welsh duo consists of friends/flat mates James Joseph (ex – Holding Absence) and James Biss (ex – Frown Upon). Their 2019 debut single “She Moves” gathered half a million streams and helped to create a buzz around the band. They signed in March 2021 with Venn Records (a label owned by members of Gallows). Having a team behind a band is always helpful and James and the Cold Gun went from recording in their own bedroom and paying their producer Abraham Fihema in burgers to working with Grammy nominated Adrian Bushby (Foo Fighters, Placebo, Muse) and having their songs mastered by Grant Berry (All Time Low, Deaf Havana, Normandie, Hot Milk).

The result is a record that contains new material (“Seven”, “Around The Bend”, “It`s Mutual”) and previously released tracks (“Long Way Home”, ”Plug Me In”). In short – an EP that takes no prisoners and leaves a trail of pure fire behind it. It`s not fair to review all of it as in yet, because you cannot hear it, so let me instead concentrate on the leading single “It`s Mutual”.

Distorted, dirty guitars that would not be out of place on a TAD release drive the song forward at a insane speed, but there`s also a part (especially around the chorus) that reminds me of early Queens of the Stone Age. You can feel passion but it’s also evident that Joseph and Biss have a lot of fun while playing together. They are not dead serious – they have a sense of humour and enough energy to outplay bands that have been of the circuit for years. The single is accompanied by a psychedelic video showing the band on a hair-raising road trip. I am not surprised that after hearing the duo on KEXP, Stone Gossard decided to sign James and the Cold Gun on the spot. I`d do just the same.

Is there anything I don’t like? Actually, yes. Call me petty but the single covers that band has been releasing from the very beginning are too like to the early releases by Seattle bands (especially Soundgarden) – typography, placing of the text etc. I am not sure if this is thought as a homage but take it from an old Seattleite here: it feels very cliché. It has been done before. I`d much rather see something new on a sleeve. Somehow it doesn’t sit right with me.

“It`s Mutual” is a first single from upcoming EP “False Start”

Other than that, ace band and ace music. I can’t wait to see what they will accomplish next. It`s also very interesting to see Loosegroove showing interest in British bands. The label recently also signed Brighton`s Tigercub to the rotation and will send them on a tour with Clutch and Eyehategod around the US.

What a time to be a music fan!

Malicia Dabrowicz

You can follow James and the Cold Gun on socials:

PS. I am not so vain to think that Stone Gossard will read this, but just in case. Thank you for what you and TEN Foundation did for Toni back in 2014.

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