Hey! Manchester presents James & The Ultrasounds
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On a given night in midtown Memphis one can find any number of different rock bands thrashing out riffs and tossing off lyrics as fast as the thirsty audience members pour down cheap beers. Amidst the dim lights, heat and discordant blend of conversation and sharp chord progressions emerging from venues like the Hi Tone, the Buccaneer Lounge and Bar DKDC there has been a group distinguishing itself over the course of the last year or so as one of the best up and coming rock acts in the city. Brash yet thoughtful, with bracing guitar and sing-a-long harmonies, there is not quite anything like them in Memphis or elsewhere. If you happen to be one of those who haven’t yet heard James and the UltraSounds, strap in.
The four piece lo-fi rock and roll band is the brainchild of James Godwin, a familiar face in the Memphis music scene, having been raised in the Bluff City, playing bass in a number of bands since his teens. His time in experimental rock outfit The New Mary Jane offered him an opportunity to develop what now seems like a telepathic understanding with current UltraSounds drummer John Argroves as well as to collaborate with influential Grifters duo David Shouse and Scott Taylor. In the ensuing years Godwin again teamed with Argroves to form a powerful rhythm section for Goner Records legend Jack Oblivian as well as Memphis by way of Knoxville roots rock singer/guitarist John Paul Keith, whose 2013 Roland Janes-produced release Memphis, Circa 3 A.M. has been lauded as an instant classic.
After touring with Jack and JPK across the US and Europe, Godwin made time to do some songwriting of his own, and in 2012 recorded his solo debut EP, Lovers and Ghosts, playing all the instruments himself to a 4 track recorder in his room. Soon thereafter he put together a band to perform the EP material, bringing in Argroves on drums, Luke White on guitar and David Johnson on bass. The group began to play regionally and strung together a tour up the east coast to New York, returning to Memphis energized and ready to record new material that Godwin had been writing.
This past spring the band planned some recording sessions with another great Memphis multi-instrumentalist, Mark Edgar Stuart, producing. The results of those sessions will comprise the band’s MadJack Records debut full length album, which is due out this December.
With these new offerings in store for the coming months, James and the UltraSounds are well poised to be one of the big Memphis breakout bands of 2015. One way or the other, be sure to keep an eye on this band. They’ll give you the shakes in the best way.