“No Beginning No End sums up how I feel about music right now,” says José James of his Blue Note Records debut. “I don’t want to be confined to any particular style. I decided I didn’t want to be considered a jazz singer anymore and that was really freeing. Once I realized that jazz singing is just something that I do and it’s just a label, it freed me as an artist to just write without any boundaries.”
No Beginning No End is a seamless musical experience that moves between different styles with remarkable fluidity, bound together by James’ transcendent voice. It marks a new chapter in the artistic journey of the 33-year-old singer/songwriter. Conceived, recorded and produced independently without any recording contract, the album is his most personal statement yet.
When 19-year-old Chicagoans Cadien Lake James, Clay Frankel, Connor Brodner, and Jack Dolan finished high school a year ago, they were under the impression that things had to change. They were expected to go to college, and more importantly, had to deal with the reality of breaking up their band, Twin Peaks, which had just started to get some notice. Three of them committed to Evergreen State College in Olympia with the idea of keeping some semblance of the band together, but it was clear that there was a magic the four of them had. All this happened BEFORE a pivotal self-booked, three-week tour in the summer of ’12. They had just recorded their debut album, Sunken, in Cadien’s basement, hit the road in earnest, and everywhere they went, one thing remained the same. After seeing the energy, power, and exuberance of their live show, people in every town and members of every band they played with urged them to see this thing through. However, real life is rarely so kind or easy. Deposits were paid, dorm rooms reserved, promises made. Cadien, Connor, and Jack were headed north to Olympia.!!
It’s a funny thing how clarity and circumstance can set and reset the table. After one semester at Evergreen, peoples’ compliments still ringing in their ears, the self-described “industrious dudes” decided to quit school and give Twin Peaks a fair shake. They returned to Chicago in December, reunited with Clay, and geared up for their SXSW debut. Esquire even gave them a nod as an “Artist to Watch” at SXSW, calling them “A bunch of dirty, precocious underage kids raised on a steady diet of Jay Reatard and their parents’ records…Twin Peaks deploy sugary pop hooks with the infectious enthusiasm of a high school punk band.” The guys moved back in with their folks, looked into part-time jobs, and began planning the re-write of the first, post-high school chapter of their lives. The feeling was palpable: Things were about to take off.