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James and its luminous folk pop certainly fits in sonically with the rich tradition of great rock music from Manchester. Although the outfit was initially lumped in with the whole Brit-pop movement of the 1990s, this act's roots go back to the early '80s, when guitar rock of surprising immediacy and grandeur was starting to make waves in the U.K. In its early days, James was very much in line with what the Smiths were doing better, but as the decade wore on, the band developed its own voice informed by a heartfelt warmth and enthusiasm. From the time of 1990s Gold Mother to the time of its breakup, in 2001, James had written an impressive body of ambitious and startlingly thoughtful pop songs. Having reunited in 2007, these Mancunians and their uplifting energy are taking flight again.

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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.

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