James Pants | Welcome
Most Likely To: make you wish you had a cooler prom date.
Welcome James Pants into your music library and prepare to be continually surprised. Welcome, Pants’ debut, sounds as good blasting from a car stereo as it does as a party soundtrack. Pants, whose real name is James Singleton, hails from Spokane, Washington.
Pants came to Peanut Butter Wolf’s attention when he and his date showed up to one of Wolf’s DJ gigs after their prom. Not only did Wolf eventually sign Pants to his Stones Throw label, but he plans to join Pants on tour in support of Welcome. But–and this just about sums up why you can’t pigeonhole Pants–he is also touring with Jamie Lidell. Pants will be a great compliment to Lidell’s blue-eyed soul, and will likely gain some new fans in the process.
Maybe it’s because Pants plays guitar, keyboards, drums, and sings on Welcome that he comes across as an über-talented loner with a music obsession. Maybe because Pants hails from Spokane, Washington, he isn’t confined to the demands of a particular music scene. Whatever the reason, it’s Welcome’s quirky, variable approach that makes the album such a stand out.
Although Pants keeps company on Stones Throw with a clutch of hip-hop artists (Oh No, MF Doom, J Dilla), Welcome is closer to the work of Madlib’s work under the guise of Quasimoto or Wolf’s own classic, Peanut Butter Beats. It’s not just about the rhymes. Most songs have lyrics, but they act more as a percussive element than to convey a specific message.
More musically limber than careless, Pants jumps all over the stylistic map. “Crystal Lite” flirts with R&B while “We’re Through” is a loose, hip-hop-inspired jam, where every instrument delivers a hook. “My Tree” is pleasantly creepy, as if the Oompa Loompas guested on the Knife’s next record. “My Girl” blends a punky rhythm section with ridiculously simplistic lyrics, but it works, probably because Pants embellishes the song structure with random bits of electronic noise. “Good Things” brings the funk, mixing a range of samples without ever loosing the beat. “Finger on the Knife” is a well executed rock-based track, while “KA$H” owes as much to Beck as it does to Pharrell Williams.
While Pants takes some chances, he is not one to throw up some beats and see what sticks, and Welcome never feels overwrought. As a result, his debut is thoroughly enjoyable and stands up to repeated play.