Lamont James
Gig Seeker Pro

Lamont James


Band Rock Pop




"SIZZLING PLATTER OF THE WEEK: Lamont James – Poppies"

"SIZZLING PLATTER OF THE WEEK: Lamont James – Poppies (self released) :: You better go out and get yourself a box of push pins and a really big map ’cause this here Lamont James is all over it. First he comes across like some kinda cross between Aquashow era Elliott Murphy and The Beatles era John Lennon at their most acoustically mellow (“Today”). Next he morphs into Around The World In A Day era Prince (“Song Of You”) and Candy-O era Cars at their most synthesizer saturated (“Sorry”). Then he has the good sense smarts to plug it in and crank it up on a cover of Teenage Head’s seminal single “Picture My Face.” After that he deftly deconstructs things down with an ambient electronic instrumental like “Kaüzendüx” that eerily evokes Stockhausen at his short waviest. But best of all is track twelve which lasts all of twenty seconds and contains naught but a syncopated drum solo. “Hey,” thinks I at the five second mark, “this reminds me of ‘Premier Drums’ on The Who Sells Out.” So I take a look to see what the song title is and wouldn’t ya know that it says: “Moonie.”"

(© 2012 Jeffrey Morgan) -


Despite doing thousands of gigs as a touring sideman for most of his career, multi-instrumentalist Lamont James has settled down to create a debut album that harkens back to AM Radio’s Sunshine Pop era. The genre was defined by light, bouncy and almost naïve music whose acts – Vanity Fare, Edison Lighthouse, 1910 Fruitgum Company, and Ohio Express – were studio concoctions.

Lamont comes from the less contrived and more honest power pop fields farmed by the likes of The Association, Gilbert O’Sullivan, Big Star and even Burt Bacharach.

That isn’t to say the songs are complete throwbacks to the late ‘60s or early ‘70s, only that they recall a time when men wearing their hearts on their sleeves were considered sensitive poets and not some Metrosexual gender/genre bending marketing shill. The first six songs – “Today”, “Sorry”, “Beat Sauce”, “Sun Brings You Home”, “Song of You”, and “Maisie” could easily be a faultless Power/Sunshine Pop EP on its own. However, Lamont breaks out of the confines of straight up pop and begins experimenting with the genre on the description defying “Kauzendux” and the preciously short atmospheric guitar piece “Traveler” followed by the Pink Floydian “Sunday” featuring a speech from Sir Ralph Richardson called “Frost At Midnight” as counterpoint to Lamont’s psychedelic mantra “…what a wonderful day”.

James even throws a non-typical pop rock song into the mix from Hamilton’s legendary punk act Teenage Head as not only an homage but a showcase for the song’s POP sensibilities and his deft interpretation. - Cashbox Magazine

"Lamont James"

Lamont James, played some music, got a B.Sc moved back to the home-space of Toronto in Canada and now plays more music. A multi-instrumentalist, classically trained musician, Lamont James is un-ashamed to add other musicians as and where it makes sense, though ever insistent it is his vocal.

Heading back to the late ’60s and British rock, I find myself scurrying around the roots of Punk Rock, simple clean guitar and a driving uncomplicated bass-line, here the success or failure lies absolutely on strength and energy. As a retro-’60s perspective this doesn’t have the screaming anger of Punk, but does contain that essential ingredient of a simple drive.

Lamont learnt well from his training as although the lines are as clear as a Flawless – D – Diamond, there is a subtle under-current of texture which raises this to a new plateau. The pin-point sharpness of the material is a pleasure to the ears and that added depth of composition adds the real value to the music. -

"Pop master Lamont James releases debut record and new video"

In an age of paint-by-numbers pop, Torontonian Lamont James is a breath of fresh air. An accomplished multi-instrumentalist, James spent many years in cover bands before bailing from music altogether. It wasn’t long before he was drawn back in however, ultimately writing, recording and releasing his debut album Poppies. James sound owes as much to Big Star as it does Burt Bacharach. His knack for creating timeless pop music is evident throughout Poppies, which you can download for free here.

Lamont recently released a video for his track Sun Brings You Home, which you can check out directly below the Q&A that I recent;y had the pleasure of conducting with Lamont.

I hear a number of 70's pop influences in your music; you’re not shy about wearing your influences on your sleeve (which I think is fantastic). What did you grow up listening to that set you on this path?

James: Thank you! I always found artists who are precious about their influences or try to deny them tiresome. Unless your name is Dylan or Lennon, Clapton, Hendrix or Townsend, there isn’t a whole lot left you can lay claim to. And those guys were ripping off Leadbelly or Woody Guthrie. So everything comes from somewhere. I grew up listening to the widest variety of music imaginable. My dad always had music on in the house, in the car, everywhere; everything from Count Basie and Oscar Peterson, Sinatra and Tony Bennett, to Simon and Garfunkel and Wings. One of my earliest loves though was Gladys Knight and the Pips’ Midnight Train to Georgia, which just blew me away. Not only the vocal performances, which are exquisite, but the whole story line of the song which is so tragic – guy goes to LA to chase his dreams and he fails, and his dreams die, and he just packs it in and takes that midnight train back home. I couldn’t imagine anything more bleak and depressing at the time and it still has the same effect on me. Also in heavy rotation in my early world were A Night at the Opera by Queen, The Beatles’ Abbey Road, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John, The Who’s Tommy, as well as Look Sharp by Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello’s first record, The Jam, Bowie’s Hunky Dory …I could go on and on…

There is a simplicity to your songs that seems to be lacking in music today as a whole. Do you subscribe to the whole “less is more” mentality?

James: Yes and no. If you are talking purely about what/how many instruments and parts are in a song, then the answer is yes. That also goes for writing; say what you want to say then shut up. I believe that the quality of your work also depends very heavily on your ability to self-edit. There are many parts of songs that I liked but ultimately cut because they did not serve the song. There are also tracks of mine that I love that didn’t make it on Poppies because they just didn’t fit with that body of work.

On the other hand, there often can be a great deal of extra effort in the studio that goes into achieving that “simple” sound. If you want to have the sound of one guitar, bass, drums and a vocal without all the trimmings then you have to be bloody sure the actual sounds are well recorded and the chord structures and harmonies are rich. The Beatles were the absolute masters of this.

You stopped making music for a period of time. Did taking a break give you a new perspective when you started making music again?

James: I stopped because the whole cover-band thing I was doing at the time just burned me out. I had gone back to university to graduate school as I felt it was time to get a so-called real job, or at least have the qualifications to do so, since my wife and I had just had twins. Another factor was I just found the music business grotesque. I still do, but now the artist has so much more control provided he plays his cards right. The trade-off for that of course are that the traditional sources of income for musicians (album sales and airplay) have pretty much dried up.

The break absolutely gave me a fresh perspective. For one thing it showed me that the passion for writing and recording music still burned deeply inside of me. There was a time when I questioned even that, which from the present viewpoint, I now find almost too depressing to even consider! All the time I had supposedly given up on music though, I was listening to everything, taking it apart in my mind and trying to figure out what made geniuses like Alex Chilton and Brian Wilson tick as writers and arrangers. -

"The Anti-Hit List by John Sakamoto"


“Sun Brings You Home”

Before you dive into this single by a Toronto member of the vanishing breed known as the proudly-pop artist, try this little exercise: Listen to the Kinks’ “Till the End of the Day,” then The Knack’s “My Sharona,” The Who’s “Can’t Explain” and, finally, “BBC” by Ming Tea, a.k.a. the band from Austin Powers (seriously). That’s one hell of a lineage. (From Poppies)” - Toronto Star


'Poppies' (2011)



Who is Lamont James?

In an age of ‘by-the-numbers’, disposable pop, Lamont James’ music resonates like a thunderclap across the ether. Think The Velvet Underground meets Burt Bacharach via, say, Big Star, and you begin to have a sense of what James is trying to accomplish. His lyrics are clever and compelling; his sound is pure rock ‘n’ roll and classic pop – but with a truly modern sensibility.

And his melodies…His melodies will burrow their way into your brain.

James is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist who is equally at home behind a drum kit or on a guitar. He is also a classically-trained pianist and singer. By the tender age of 5, he had begun his musical career, creating his first compositions while attending the Royal Conservatory of Music.

As a touring pro with thousands of performances to his credit, Toronto-born Lamont James called the world his home for the better part of a decade. Traveling Europe and living in Chile, New York City and Toronto, he performed in various incarnations, redefining himself with various bands and honing his craft, finding his voice.

Until he simply hit a wall.

Tired, and disillusioned with the business of music, James returned to school. In a bid to secure a ‘straight career’, he earned an M.Sc. and began working in the field of speech-language pathology, doing voice-over work on the side.

“I thought I was done with music… Apparently, it wasn’t done with me.”

The music, however, refused to be silenced. Upon his return to Toronto, James commenced the process of writing and recording his debut solo album in earnest. Driven by a powerful vision for this album, James worked doggedly whenever and wherever he could, recording Poppies in studios, basements, apartments, via email—whatever it took…

“The songs wouldn’t leave me alone. They demanded attention”.

James indeed plays most of the instruments on the record, but also enlisted the aid of such distinguished players as Kurt Schefter on lead guitar, legendary Toronto bass player Mike Zingrone and members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra string and horn sections.

When recording, he insists on doing all his own vocals, saying, “It’s better to do my own backing parts because I have an easier time than others putting up with me in the studio.”

Whether alone or accompanied by some of the finest musicians Toronto has to offer, Lamont James offers an exciting new fabric to an often threadbare genre. This is intelligent music. It is music for grownups.

Who is Lamont James? Lamont James is beguiling melodies and lush orchestral arrangements. Lamont James is poetry and power. Lamont James is, quite possibly, the future of pop.



‘POPPIES’ – A review by writer / filmmaker, Mark Logan.

I am listening to the debut album of Lamont James, a Toronto based musician who has recently released an impressive batch of songs.

James’ music seamlessly blends epic 70's pop/rock stylings underpinned by lush baroque orchestration, and infused with sun-filled harmonies.

What immediately strikes the listener is the confidence of the work. Also known as a drummer, James has physically and figuratively stepped out from behind the kit, penning and performing infectious and well-crafted songs.

More impressively, he has managed to produce a complex and nuanced album that raises the level of the material with sensitive arrangements and sophisticated, layered sounds that surely should be the terrain of a more experienced producer. If this is the effort of a DIY basement musician, James is destined for larger things.

A fan of Pete Townshend, James utilizes French horns in “She’s Going Higher” that evoke “Quadrophenia” but transcend any clichés with the sheer verve of the song. Like Townshend’s, his canvas is large and complex and James sets the bar high as he reaches and mostly attains lofty heights on the shoulders of his heroes. “Song of You” is another case in point.

“Maisie” is a whimsical confection that in an alternative universe could be an upbeat theme song for a popular television show. There is a Beatle-esque/Penny Lane line that surfaces, but the infusion of banjo roots the song. This is Kinks-like in its exuberance.

Time and time again, James’ raw musical ability wins the listener over. His harmonies are sublime and … his voice has impressive range that is rare these days; and one gets the impression that it has room to grow.

Let there be no doubt, there is rock and roll; James is a great drummer after all. “Beat Sauce” is perfect and just when the chewy three chord riff is about to prove repetitive he throws in a complicated guitar break that lifts it off the ground.

“Sun Brings You Home” is like the bastard love child of Townshend’s “Can’t Explain” who grows up listening to the Knack. James’ knack is to mine a very satisfying vein of nostalgic, inventive sounds that are at once famili