Montreal native James Parm has a long history with the music scene in his hometown, going all the way back to his teens when he began playing in his very first band at venues across the city. Even at this early age, his predilection for genre-melding was starting to develop, as he would routinely mix and match aspects of garage rock, hip-hop and jazz into his music. Years later, close to what he thought would be a major musical breakthrough, he suffered a devastating breakup with his longtime girlfriend and stepped back from music for a time – specifically 3 months to take a trip across Southeast Asia. When he returned home, however, his found that his job was gone and that his band had broken up.
As he began the process of adapting to his new circumstances, he started working at a downtown bar while taking up residence on the edge of Montreal. While others he knew were wrapped up in their own egos, Parm slowly began making music again as a way to parse out truth from fantasy in the world around him. The resulting songs came together as “Oh My Darling,” a new record which was released just a few weeks ago. Splicing together morose pop rhythms with arrangements built around his affection for jazz and hip-hop, the album highlights his ability to effortlessly navigate these disparate landscapes while exorcising a host of societal demons.
On recent single, “1 M,” he adapts the lilting shiver of Thom Yorke’s fragile voice while also focusing on the creation of a song steeped in jazz spontaneity and hip-hop beatwork. Mesmerizing bits of piano and vibraphone shift and settle in the background as he eventually embraces a wave of ragged distortion before allowing the track to go deathly quiet. After a moment, the melody returns, quicker and more insistent, while his voice pours through the music. It’s a fascinating and emotionally compelling 4 minutes of noise that explores the preternatural disregard for rhythmic convention that Parm possesses.