Debut LP "PLEASE, PLEASE" receiving radio play on 139 stations nationwide (including several in Canada)!
"Joshua P. James’ songs could have been written yesterday or 60 years ago. With a tight, blazing rhythm section, those songs are let loose with a modern energy, free of gimmickry or signs of trad Country tourism. The trio sells their soulful, gritty take with a straight-from-the-gut delivery, the early Folk/Country/Blues sound oozing forth effortlessly. They mean it and you’ll know it." - Midpoint Music Festival Roundup 2011
“He just has his own sound… and we encourage you to check him out if you want to see some real talent...For my money, Joshua P. James is the best songwriter in Columbus.” – Ranch Party Roundup
Formed in early 2011, Joshua P. James and the Paper Planes got the wild notion that if you take a folk singer's simply strummed, lyric-centric tunes and combine that with the tight, albeit non-conventional, stylings of an upright bassist and the backbone of a drummer who grew up playing in metal bands, that something good might result. The released their debut full length “Please, Please” in April 2012 which has garnered much praise.
“Please, Please reminds you of just how simple, good and enjoyable music can be.” – 5 out of 5 in Ghetto Blaster Magazine Issue 32
Fall of 2012 saw a lineup change with founding member Evan Harrison Parker leaving the band and Pete Mendenhall (upright bass, vocals) joining Joshua and Brandon Woods (drums, vocals) to carry The Paper Planes to new heights in 2013.
"Something so mesmerizing from Joshua P. James and the Paper Planes, I don't even have a name for it yet." - Ear Candi Magazine
Pete Mendenhall - Upright Bass
Brandon Woods - Drums, Back-up Vocals
Joshua P. James - Vocals, Guitar
Evan Harris (former member) - Upright Bass, Back-up Vocals
Joshua P. James solo efforts:
2009 - Kisses and Honeycomb EP- self-produced
2010 - As Long As I Am Tall - debut LP - self-produced - now available on Singing Moon Records
Joshua P. James and the Paper Planes:
2012 - Please, Please LP
Joshua P. James and the Paper Planes - "Please, Please"
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Reviewing albums that you absolutely love is in some ways the most difficult ones to write. It’s ha...Reviewing albums that you absolutely love is in some ways the most difficult ones to write. It’s hard not to be hyperbolic, something your editor will undoubtedly point out, which is good since no one believes you when you say “the greatest guitar solo ever recorded,” or “harmonies that challenge the best of the Beatles,” or something like that. So you have to listen with a critical ear and temper your praise. It’s tricky because we have to remain as objective as possible but readers want our opinion and that gives us a sense of authority that we need to take seriously.
Joshua P. James and the Paper Planes forthcoming release “Please, Please” is posing these problems for me. I want to shovel heaps of praise on this record but I want you, the reader, to take me seriously so you actually buy this record and listen to it.
Joshua P. James and the Paper Planes certainly convey extremely well that which they were trying to get across. “Please, Please” is country/folk at its best. This is a vague description, I know. So I’ll just say that JPJ and the Paper Planes reside somewhere in between the rollicking styles of Ricky Nelson and the poignant story telling of Willie Nelson. The songs themselves are masterfully written– catchy melodies, clever and intelligent lyrics, and dynamic rhythm guitar. If you’ve ever seen a Joshua P. James solo set you will know that these songs can easily stand on their own with nothing more than the dynamic strumming of an acoustic guitar and the country drawl swoon of Joshua P. James. However, adding the compliments of drums and a stand-up bass gives the songs a highly creative edge and a professionalism that will ultimately convince the powers that be to get this record on the radio and television.
As far as the record itself is concerned Joshua P. James, himself makes the claim that he writes songs about three things: drinking, girls, and traveling. Indeed those topics are covered on this record. At first glance it might seem a bit clichéd that a country/folk record has covered those three topics but James is aware of silly folk clichés evinced by the explicit mentioning that “all the time trains come running through old folk songs.” So if you’re worried about clichés, as any astute listener should be, you need not concern yourself with “Please, Please.”
The opening track, “Haunt Your House” is a rollicking country tune about dying in the presence of a fiery confident woman, insisting that if this man does die he’s not going to leave, he’ll haunt this woman’s house. The melody is extremely catchy and with the driving rhythm guitar being the first thing you hear it’s the perfect opener.
Following “Haunt Your House” is “Prettiest Girl,” covering two of the topics the Paper Planes seem to know all too well, traveling and love. “Prettiest Girl” opens in the minor key talking about grizzly bears “crawling all over Denali.” As far as songwriting is concerned I think the minor key is an interesting tool. It immediately conveys a sense of caution. Used properly it can paint an otherwise playful topic into one that demands to be taken seriously. This is exactly what “Prettiest Girl” does. The reason grizzly bears are mentioned is to communicate that the songwriter has witnessed enough to be confident about the girl he’s chosen. He’s also been up north and “rubbed those glaciers with (his) own freezing hands,” he’s seen the Liberty Bell but apparently Philly girls “have too many cracks.” The tone of the song lets the listener know that the songwriter is taking his relationship very seriously and there is nothing in this world that will challenge that, not even farmer’s daughters in California.
“Run Like Fire” is one of my favorite songs on the album. The stand-up bass work of Evan Harrison Parker is highlighted here. He solos on the first few bars to open the song and the line is creative and even a little funky. He then seamlessly moves out of this creative, funky bass line and fal
JOSHUA P. JAMES AND THE PAPER PLANES PLEASE, PLEASE
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5 (out of 5) JOSHUA P. JAMES AND THE PAPER PLANES PLEASE, PLEASE All you need is good songs and y...5 (out of 5)
JOSHUA P. JAMES AND THE PAPER PLANES
All you need is good songs and you'll be successful. All you need is your friends’ support and you can reach the stars. Yep, it’s pretty simple when you get down to it and listening to Please, Please reminds you of just how simple, good and enjoyable music can be. Quick out of the gate "Haunt Your House" gives you a glimpse of the live show, all rawkus and small-town story, what you could describe as roots rock revivalism… okay, let me try again. You know when your friend says that Bob Dylan is the best thing ever and you're like “I really like that song on The Big Lebowski soundtrack but everything else just isn't doing it for me.” Then he's recommends The Band, but you're like “I really like ‘Up On Cripple Creek’ because of the awesome Clavinet funk on it, but…” Finally he throws out Pete Seeger in desperation and you're like, “fuck that, I just want something like Jerry Reed's ‘When You're Hot You're Hot’ but without all the 70's soul and more of the simplicity of Pink Moon… maybe a little of the Jayhawks, but not being such dick-less crooners.” Joshua P. James and the Paper James is just that band. Relax and enjoy the simple magic that a man's voice, acoustic guitar, double bass, and drum kit can make when speaking on such issues as women-folk and "Wildflowers". (self-released) by Noah Andrews
ALBUM REVIEW : JOSHUA P. JAMES & THE PAPER PLANES : PLEASE, PLEASE
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Nothing excites me more than actually being excited about a local record. The Paper Planes came toge...Nothing excites me more than actually being excited about a local record. The Paper Planes came together just last year when Driftwood Motion leader, Evan Harris and drummer Brandon Wood played a show with Joshua P. James as the opener. Harris and Wood dropped what they were doing and created the perfect rhythm section for James’ old timey folk/country/rock songs.
Old Timey, I hate that description, because James is fully aware of the century in which he lives, but the sounds to seem to lurk somewhere in the late fifties or early sixties. James’ drawn out baritone sometimes conjures up the ghosts of Johnny Cash and Buddy Holly while still having a unique tone that really drives the entire feel of the album and sets him apart from so many of the other singer songwriters out there.
The album is well put together, and the sound is phenomenal which is something that is sometimes lacking with local records. Make no mistake this was not just recorded in a living room, it is a bonafide debut despite it’s lack of big label backing. James’ songwriting skills are impeccable and his aforementioned haunting vocals combine flawlessly with his guitar skills, Harris’ unconventional yet remarkable upright skills, and Woods’ drumming (which in my opinion is the best in Ohio) to create one of the early favorites for my year end top ten. Also of note are the great bar room feel of the loose harmonies that are dropped in at exactly the right moments in the songs. I’m not sure who handles the arrangements of the songs, but whoever they are they did a great job.
“Haunt Your House” tells the story of a man claiming that a woman will never be able to rid herself of him, even in death. This one makes me really yearn to see them live as the energy on the recorded version leaps out of the speakers damn near with a trail of sparks.
Another favorite of mine on the record, is “Prettiest Girl”, a slower number that tells of James’ world travels while looking for the perfect mate. After all the searching he comes to the conclusion that the grass was in fact not greener on the other side and the girl standing right next to him is the actually “the one”. Normally I am not for whistling in a song, but the whistle in this song really makes it stand out to me.
The best song on the record is a toss up between, “Shape I’m In”, James’ lament of the lifestyle he has chosen and “Sour Apple”, a tale of love gone wrong. Also of note is the sweet finger picked, “High Lonesome”, a song that showcases James’ superb lyrics and his vocal with minimal backing by the Planes.
I have to admit when I heard that Harris and Wood had abandoned The Driftwood Motion to play behind some guy I had never heard of, I was disappointed. That is until I heard this record. Joshua P. James is a damn fine songwriter and he and the planes have delivered one hell of an album. One that I suggest everyone go order immediately. I have yet to see them live, but I have heard that they are a riot on stage, and I would not be surprised to see them rapidly becoming a sought after act on the Americana scene. The album was officially released this past weekend and should be available soon on their website.
Local Music: Joshua P. James and the Paper Planes
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“I’m definitely influenced by the dawn of rock ’n’ roll,” Joshua P. James explained. “There wasn’t a...“I’m definitely influenced by the dawn of rock ’n’ roll,” Joshua P. James explained. “There wasn’t any fussing around.”
The Columbus roots-rocker was speaking of his songwriting, which echoes the classic country and rock of the ’50s and ’60s as filtered through today’s Americana titans. As evidenced on debut album “Please, Please,” James can make old sounds stirring with a stoic baritone drawl and a clever turn of phrase. He sings of haunting old lovers and walking among javelinas, but it feels real.
He might as well have been referring to his band The Paper Planes’ manner of business. Since forming in the afterglow of New Year’s Eve revelry in the early hours of January 1, 2011, they’ve already performed enough concerts to reach the triple digits and recorded an album with Jay Alton at Sonic Lounge.
“All of us having full-time jobs, I think we played 90 shows last year,” James said.
James, a proud native of 900-strong northeast Ohio town Bolivar, bounced from Colorado to Idaho to Virginia before landing in Columbus four years ago. He played solo for a spell, but eventually bassist Evan Harrison Parker and drummer Brandon Wood became fans of James’ work and eagerly offered to be his backing band.
“I told him I played the upright bass,” Parker said. “That was a lie.”
Parker got to learning, and the band clicked immediately. They honed their craft with a series of weekend jaunts, including one stretch on ComFest weekend when they played three shows in three states in 30 hours. Lately they’ve stretched the limits of their day jobs even further; the band returned Sunday from a 17-day “maniacal boomerang of a tour” that took them to Olympia, Washington and back.
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It sounds authentic, whether it is or not The older I get, the more I’m convinced that authenticity...It sounds authentic, whether it is or not
The older I get, the more I’m convinced that authenticity is a myth.
I still love hearing the story behind an album, and I’m OK with the fact that a compelling narrative accompanying a record may influence how I hear it. But if it later comes to light that Justin Vernon actually recorded Bon Iver’s first album in a Los Angeles studio, I won’t be utterly shocked.
Even Bob Dylan—often spoken of as the embodiment of musical authenticity—cultivated an image and a story.
All that to say, I have no idea where Joshua P. James got his country influences. Maybe he grew up working in the cotton fields with his pappy. Maybe he was born and raised in Columbus and, after somebody gave him a Justin Townes Earle CD, James realized he could do something similar—that is, making modern Americana with an old-fashioned feel.
It really doesn’t matter. However the sound came about, Joshua P. James and the Paper Planes are good at what they do.
Even if you’re growing weary of Columbus hoedown bands, give their album Please, Please a listen. For starters, engineer Jay Alton managed to record it in a way that sounds off-the-cuff without sacrificing fidelity. That live feel suits James’s brand of country-folk, which doesn’t fuss around.
James keeps things tight and to the point. Strong and strummy leadoff track “Haunt Your House” is over in two and a half minutes, just enough time for James to warn his (ex-?) lover that she can’t get rid of him, even in death: “If I don’t make it out alive I’m gonna haunt your house tonight.”
James is a skilled, confident songwriter, rarely resorting to country clichés. His words can stand on their own with little accompaniment, as they do on the lilting and pretty album closer, “High Lonesome.” His two bandmates complement him well, playing unobtrusive support roles and adding harmonies and other flourishes only when appropriate.
If James ever snagged an opening tour slot with JT Earle, he’d likely give the headliner a run for his money.
Midpoint Music Festival Roundup 2011
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Joshua P. James’ songs could have been written yesterday or 60 years ago. With a tight, blazing rhyt...Joshua P. James’ songs could have been written yesterday or 60 years ago. With a tight, blazing rhythm section, those songs are let loose with a modern energy, free of gimmickry or signs of trad Country tourism. The trio sells their soulful, gritty take with a straight-from-the-gut delivery, the early Folk/Country/Blues sound oozing forth effortlessly. They mean it and you’ll know it
Review: Paper Planes, Olde Souls, and Phillip Fox at KOBO
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The band’s set is almost entirely originals, though they threw a Johnny Cash deep cut in on Friday, ...The band’s set is almost entirely originals, though they threw a Johnny Cash deep cut in on Friday, and the songs all have a great musical quality to them. Chord progressions change sometimes seemingly unexpectedly, but everything feels right and it all sounds natural. The band is well rehearsed and tight—intros and outros are defined and written. There’s never a feeling that the band is wandering into or out of songs. Joshua’s voice is smooth and his lyrics are easy to understand. The band is high energy without being too loud, and the songwriting is top notch.
Joshua P. James has an original style of songwriting that makes every word seem perfectly selected and important, and he’s able to paint pictures in such a simple yet poetic way. It’s true talent. It’s not something that anyone can do with a chorus and a rhyming dictionary, that’s for sure. Evan Harris, previously the front man for The Driftwood Motion, stands alongside Joshua and plucks an upright bass. Evan is fun to watch—he moves and sways to the tunes and clearly has a blast playing with the trio. The third member of this group is Brandon Woods, the drummer, who not only keeps the beat well, but adds quick splashes of color that not only compliment the music, but help the listener to grab the lyric. On several occasions, just as Joshua sings a line that is especially smart or memorable, Brandon jumps in there and snatches your attention with a quick cymbal or an accented bass drum. Brandon is tasteful behind the drums, and his vocal harmonies are spot on.
That’s another thing that this band does so well—harmonies. The trio has them down. Too many bands spend hours on the music, but neglect to recognize that the best written and most musical chorus can be ruined by a poor vocal harmony. The Paper Planes do not have this problem. The harmonies come in and out and truly sound effortless. See if you can find a version of their tune Wildflower on YouTube, you’ll see what I mean. Better yet, go see them play live. They’re playing September 9th and 10th here in town. You’ll be happy you were there.
Typical set list iis mostly comprised of originals. In an hour set, might play one or two covers
Current Originals Include:
Haunt Your House
Run Like Fire
I'll Be Damned
Away Too Long
Shape I'm In
"Straight A's in Love" - Johnny Cash
"Bird On a Wire" - Leonard Cohen
"Wild About My Lovin'" - Lovin Spoonful
There are no upcoming dates at this time.