by Johnny Papan
VANCOUVER – Daniel James is a local guitar virtuoso who has garnered media attention since childhood. Working mostly as a studio musician until recently, the first cut with his new project, Brass Camel, explores various elements of blues, psychedelic, funk and rock n’ roll to create a futuristic, intricate musical-styling coined as “progressive funk.”
The self-titled record, also produced by James, opens with the groovy and upbeat “Issues,” setting the dancing-shoes theme. The following track “We Gotta Live Together,” is a psychedelic jam that immediately trips you into an almost Hendrix-esque experience.
After the anthemically funky “New York,” Brass Camel kicks up the progression with “The Bane of William Watson,” a pseudo-tropical instrumental piece laden with guitar leads that ends in a heavy, destructive musical breakdown. This outro serves as a seamless transition into the album’s next track “Nothing Wrong,” which opens with an explosively rad riff, continuing with a high-energy that refuses to cease.
“Better Things to Do” is a washed out, downtempo steez that blissfully melts you into your seat before the album continues it’s guitarrotic asphyxiation. “Buenas Noches” is a second progressively Summer-time instrumental trip that derives imagination of being on a Space-beach with a Pina Colada. The song is followed by two hard-hitting rock tunes: “Call the Doctor” and “A Price to Pay.”
“Letters of Last Resort” is a spaced-out psychedelic instrumental reminiscent of a bluesy Pink Floyd. Finally, the album concludes with “A Long Way to Go,” which bookends as headbangable piece with a chorus that channels James’ inner-Cornell and a solo that simply shreds.
As a whole, the album is a roller-coaster that takes influence from, but is not limited to, the classic sounds of AC/DC, Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix, Rush, as well as 70s funk. Though influence is apparent Daniel James’ Brass Camel is still totally fresh, unique and original. It’s a one of a kind blend where synths range from high pitches to deep, raunchy, space-like bass, while James fronts the band’s unorthodox rhythms with his guitar’s firepower fretboard. It’s a technical musicians dream that leaves you wanting more.
Daniel James’ Brass Camel celebrates their debut album release at the Railway Club (Vancouver) on May 5.