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James Combs writes modern acoustic songs that have been described as both beautiful and fierce. Lilting music and high register vocal stylings underscore provocative lyrics. His songs combine a tight songwriting ethic with an emotional, modern, texture-savvy sensibility.

James bounced from Indiana to Boston to Indiana to Chicago before finally arriving in northern California in the summer of 1998. Along the way James spent a few years writing songs for the Indiana-based art rock group Arson Garden which was, for those who weren't looking, one of the premier Midwestern bands of the early '90s. With publications like the Chicago Reader calling them "the only art rock band in North America that matters," Arson Garden released three albums, performed a Peel Session for the BBC in London, did a Lollapalooza, toured extensively throughout the US and Europe, and played on bills with several rock luminaries including Marianne Faithful, Yo La Tengo, Meat Puppets, Afghan Wigs, the Replacements, and They Might Be Giants, among others.

James released his first solo album, Remotor, in the spring of 1999 on Berkeley's Bliss Recordings.