James Murray and The Good For Naughts
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James Murray and The Good For Naughts

Guelph, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | SELF

Guelph, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2011
Band Folk Acoustic




"Radio Play"

"Til The Mighty Have Fallen and The Great Guns Go Dead" featured on The Morning Edition, CBC Kitchener Waterloo 89.1 FM February 25th, 2015 - CBC Kitchener Waterloo 89.1 FM

"Radio Play"

"They Weren't There So They Can't Say" featured on The Morning Edition CBC Kitchener-Waterloo 89.1 February 9, 2015 - CBC Kitchener-Waterloo 89.1 FM

"Radio Play"

"They Weren't There So They Can't Say" featured on The Morning Edition CBC Kitchener-Waterloo 89.1 August 21, 2014 - CBC Kitchener-Waterloo 89.1 FM

"The Good For Naughts No Great War Album Review"

The Good For Naughts are a Canadian folk-rock / alt-country band with a brilliant big band sound and an awful lot to say. I stumbled across these guys by accident and decided that I absolutely must review the album. So here it is!

It's quite rare that I hear a studio recorded album that manages to maintain the liveliness and oomph that only a live show can usually put across. But this record succeeds in achieving that sound.

The album itself is only ten tracks long. This doesn't sound like much but the songs are quite lengthy and there's an awful lot of quality content in there.

The title track begins with a delicate, fingerpicked waltz. Just two guitars and a tambourine before it picks up with a huge cymbal crash and the rest of the band. We've got some harmonica, some slide guitar, some electric organ, and of course the brilliant vocals from James Murray.

This first track is a very captivating piece of music, filled with passion and a message that is not to be taken lightly. The same can be said for the rest of the album too. But I'll let you listen and take note of that for yourself.

The second track picks up with a very country-esque style to it. The organ taking a large portion of the sound, alongside the funky bass line. What a fantastic combination!

It is apparent when listening to the album that the band had set out to create a very grounded representation of the traditional aspects of their work. Many traditional instruments feature in a few of the songs on the album, including mandolin and accordion, on top of the harmonica, slide and organ that we've already heard. But these instruments have been used with a good dose of creative licence to create a contemporary sound, making the album radio friendly and very current. It's like the band is giving a big nod to the musicians of the past, saying 'thanks for giving us great history and great ground to base our music upon, we're gonna take it into our own hands now and transform this thing into something new.'

And I tell you now. This music is in good hands.

There's great diversity in the album too. It slows right down halfway through, giving the listener a much needed break from the very upbeat, energy filled songs of the first half. And just as we're beginning to have enough of the 3/4 melancholy, it soon picks right back up again.

Track 5, Pills and Booze is a very cliche break-up story, which I usually tend to steer away from. But it's so catchy, upbeat and as silly as it might sound, kind of hopeful!
'I'm not saying there's no hope, I've just reached the end of my rope, and you keep tugging on the noose.' It's quite sincere I know, but not all hope is lost! Right?

Anyway, what I'm trying to get at, is that this entire record handles sensitive and very real issues, while managing to maintain a positive spin on things, leaving the listener feeling really quite optimistic and inspired by the end of the album.

There are moments in the album where there is perhaps a little too much cheese for me. Some of the lyrics here and there have been heard a hundred times before in music. The fade out solos are too much for me too. I really hate fade outs. But I'm going to forgive the band for that because at the end of the day, if the lyrics and the music do the job and portray the emotion and receive the reaction that was intended, then somethings been done right!

And that's why I'm giving the record five stars. - Sunstock Music

"New Good For Naughts CD: No Great War"

Guelph/Kitchener/Toronto alt-folk rock band, The Good For Naughts recently delivered their incredible sophomore album, No Great War. It's genre-defying, edgy, unique, and vastly entertaining.

Part country, party swampy blues, part rock and a whole lotta other things things thrown in - it all adds up to some amazing music. There's dazzling harmonica, great cigar box guitar, and rootsy rhythms amped up to 11.

Every track tells a story and the songwriting is tight here. Even the track titles themselves seem to be well though out (Til The Mighty Have Fallen and The Great Guns Go Dead, I'll Be the Lost and more).

You can download this wonderful album through the band's Bandcamp Page. - Hamilton Blues Lovers

"The Good For Naughts become a band on No Great War"

Guelph indie-folk-rock band, The Good For Naughts, are releasing their second album, No Great War. Until recently, the band has been an often revolving-door enterprise, anchored by frontman and mastermind James Murray. Murray recently solidified the lineup and since then, the band has coalesced into a formidable live entity. With singer and cigar-box guitarist Murray, guitarist Nick Iden, drummer Mike Holtom, and bassist Tim Smith, The Good For Naughts are a real band now, rather than Murray's vanity project.

"We've come together as a band," Murray explained. "I feel like this is a real band record, whereas the first record, it's a band record but it was a bit more of a singer-songwriter thing because it was me with a backing band. I think the sound is much more developed. It's a more mature record; the songwriting is more mature, the arrangements, the band effort … it's much better. We're all excited; as opposed to just me being excited to get my record out, The Good For Naughts are excited to get the band's record out. It makes it a lot more fun, and frankly it makes for a much better record."

The band's chemistry was quickly put to the test with the decision to record the album 'live-off-the-floor', a method largely absent from modern records. The ease of digital recording allows bands innumerable takes and opportunities for correction, which can lead to pristine recordings, but can also produce antiseptic records, devoid of the minor human imperfections that make a record sound like it was made by people, rather than robots.

"This record is much different than the first record," Murray told me, "there was no fixing. We, all four of us, recorded these all at the same time as if we were playing a gig. That human aspect of our playing is preserved in what we've recorded and that's one of the things the guys really like about this. It's very human and organic. That's what we performed that day; it didn't all get fixed in post-production."

The new, stronger Good For Naughts came together when Murray met guitarist Nick Iden, a jack-of-all-trades musician and studio proprietor in Kitchener.

"Nick, I guess, is sort of the linchpin that brought us all together, and it was mostly coincidence. I was looking for a studio … to demo some songs, and I just happened to see that Nick's studio in Kitchener had a weekend rate. I went in and played some songs with him and he really liked what I was doing; he really thought the songs were well written. I decided to go back and make a record with him. Nick had the contacts to get me a drummer or anyone else I needed. It's stuck together because the guys believe in the music."

Central to the band's sound on No Great War is Murray's homemade, cigar-box guitar. The instrument, an archaic contraption that Murray built himself, piqued the guitarist's interest when he began digging for an instrument that could lend his songs an authentically aged sound.

"There's this neat community on the internet of guys building cigar-box guitars," Murray said. "It comes from the idea that a guitar first originated by people picking up what they could find and building a guitar out of found objects … from that southern blues tradition of the diddly bow: a broomstick with a nail in it, wrap a string around it and tie it to whatever kind of box you can find, and then play it with a slide. What I thought was, 'I really want a vintage, authentic sound on this record and I don't want to just play a Telecaster.' I got a cigar box and a Telecaster neck and I wired it up with a vintage Seymour-Duncan and boy, am I really happy with the guitar. So much fun to play!" - The Kitchener Record

"The Good For Naughts Interview"

Music Lives: Your new album No Great War has it’s release show coming up on November 9th. How excited are you to finally release it and what was the process like?

James Murray: I am beyond excited for this release! So much time and hard work has gone into making this record and I can’t wait to finally see it all come to fruition.

We recorded this record at Brixton Music in Kitchener. Our guitar player, Nick, runs a studio there. We went about the process very differently this time around. This time, guitar, bass and drums were done live off the floor. Not a lot of fixing and fidgeting. We took the same approach to recording this album as we take toward sex. Grip ‘er and rip ‘er. Kidding…sort of.

Our philosophy with this record was that our rhythm section (Mike and Tim) was more than solid enough to pull everything off live. And if things get loose here or there, then that’s great! The push and pull between the players in a band is part of what makes music interesting. There’s just not enough of that these days.

The process of recording took about 6 months in total but that was really a scheduling thing. Because we went live off the floor, the bed tracks for guitar, bass, and drums really only took two weekends. With that said, these songs were written two years ago and we have been road testing them for at least a year, so the entire process has been a long one. That makes us even more stoked to finally see a finished product at the album release.

ML: You released an EP earlier this year called G20 Land. Was it hard getting two projects out in one year? Does the new record have a lot of political themes as well?

JM: Yes, I released a three song EP in July of this year with some songs that I wrote that weren’t going to make it on to the full length album. They’re good songs and were definitely good enough for the album but there was just no more time to woodshed them with the band and record them. So I decided to put the G20 Land EP out in the interim. Part of the point of doing that was also so that people didn’t forget about us while we worked away at the full length album in the studio. The new record does have a lot of political themes, yes. Maybe not anything quite as starkly political as G20 Land but pretty close. Even the title track of the album, “No Great War”, is political. The idea behind that song was me wondering whether we go out of our way to manufacture war because it’s a way of testing our mettle and possibly creating a legacy (whether good or bad). My generation and younger ones have had no great war – no great sacrifice – and I wonder whether that pushes us to create conflict where there needn’t necessarily be any. I’ve always written political songs and, at least for me, it feels natural. Music is a great way to point the finger. That’s what Bob Dylan called those kind of tunes – “finger pointin’ songs”.

ML: I saw you playing a cigar box guitar this summer. Did you build it? If so, where did the idea come from and were there any challenges?

JM: Ya. I built it over the summer. I don’t recall exactly where the idea came from but I know I was searching for something that was going to give my guitar a true vintage and simple tone. People used to build guitars out of whatever they could find and then play them with a slide. There are diddly-bows with only one string as well as cigar box guitars that have only three or four strings. My cigar box guitar comes from that tradition but I’ve got a telecaster neck on it that takes six strings and one vintage single coil pick-up in it. Finding some of the needed parts was definitely a challenge. I still wish I could have tricked it out with more truly vintage parts but it was just impossible to make some of them fit together. I must say, though, I absolutely love playing that guitar. After I built it, I went back and tracked every tune on the album over again using it.

ML: How did the GFN come together, you guys seem to be all over the place geographically? Does that make it hard to practice/record/play gigs?

JM: Everything started when I had finished writing a whole bunch of tunes back in 2010. Our guitar player, Nick, owns a studio in Kitchener called Brixton Music and I went in there to demo the songs on acoustic guitar. That’s how I met Nick. I didn’t have a band at the time but I wanted to make a record. I went back to Nick’s studio with my cousins, including my bass player, Tim, and recorded the full length self-titled debut album. I still love that album and it’s still definitely The Good For Naughts but when the full band was finally able to come together regularly for rehearsal (with the addition of Mike on drums and Nick on guitar) the sound started to move in a different direction, eventually ending up where it is now.

We are certainly spread out geographically. Nick is in Kitchener, Mike is in Waterloo, I’m in Guelph and Tim is in Toronto. To be honest, it doesn’t create much of a problem. The bigger probl - Music Lives

"Radio Interview and Live Performance November 4, 2013, CFRU 93.3 "Underpaid and Underplayed""

"Underpaid and Underpaid" - CFRU 93.3 Underpaid and Underplayed

""Things Are Always Falling Apart" radio rotation on CFRU 93.3 FM January 2012 - February 2012"

Things Are Always Falling Apart" radio rotation on CFRU 93.3 FM January 2012 - February - CFRU 93.3 FM "Underpaid and Underplayed"

""Horseshoes and Hand Grenades" radio rotation on CFRU 93.3 FM January 2012 - February 2012."

"Horseshoes and Hand Grenades" radio rotation on CFRU 93.3 FM January 2012 - February 2012 - CFRU 93.3 FM "Underplayed and Underpaid"

""Louder" radio rotation on CFRU 93.3 FM January 2012 - February 2012."

"Louder" radio rotation on CFRU 93.3 FM January 2012 - February 2012. - CFRU 93.3 FM "Underplayed and Underpaid"

"Radio Interview and Live Performance CFRU 93.3 FM February 6 "Underpaid and Underplayed""

Radio Interview and Live Performance CFRU 93.3 FM February 6 "Underpaid and Underplayed". - CFRU 93.3 FM

"Radio Rotation"

"Louder" in rotation on 93.3 FM February 2012 - April 2012. - "Louder" in rotation on 93.3 FM February 2012 - April 2012.

"Interview June 11, 2012 for Orange Country Reverb"

"Welcome to the folk revolution...The Good for Naughts bring the roots back to the modern music scene. With a refusal to over-produce their music with mixing machines and effects, the band has contributed to the revival of musical urgency and spontaneity." - Orange Country Reverb - Orange Country Reverb


"The Good For Naughts", self-titled debut release (May 2011)
"G20 Land", 3 song EP (June 2013)
"No Great War", full length sophomore album (November 2013)



James Murray and The Good For Naughts are a folk and alt-country band based in Guelph, Ontario, Canada, led by songwriter and frontman James Murray. The focus is melody, harmony and smart song writing. But most important of all is the band's desire to have an emotional impact on the listener. You should feel it, not just hear it.

After graduating as the top student from the University of Guelph Honours Music Program and several years playing in Toronto based bands, James formed The Good For Naughts. With the addition of recording engineer and producer, Nick Iden, on guitar, local pro Mike Holtom on drums and Humber Music graduate Tim Smith on bass, the band recorded their self titled debut album in 2011.

In 2013 The Good For Naughts won grant funding from the Waterloo Arts Council to record their sophomore album entitled "No Great War". The band describes the resulting album as a logical and organic progression from their debut album which pushes them deep into the folk and alt-country genres while still remaining accessible to the average listener.

James Murray and The Good For Naughts are currently touring southern Ontario and are in pre-production of their third album, to be released in 2016.

The latest album "No Great War" is available to hear and download on Bandcamp.


Contact James Murray and The Good For Naughts at:



Band Members