On March 30th, Edmonton's Jim Cuming (AKA Jom Comyn) released his second LP, I Need Love, through Sweety Pie Records. As impertinent as any release in recent memory, Jim tackled genre after genre while exploring and reminiscing on themes of love, from all perspectives. The result? What may have not been designed to be as much of a focused effort as his past releases, The Black Pits EP and In The Dark on 99, finalized as a spunky array of his influences (both musical and environmental) and produced his strongest, and most enjoyable work yet.
I Need Love is 28 tracks long with song times ranging from sub-one minute to just shy of four minutes. Despite the track count, songs blend into one another without missing a beat and the entire effort is kept to a very accessible 57 minutes. The "genre-tackling" I mentioned? You hear a Corb Lund-esque, canadiana-western in "All or Nothing", soulful Motown with "Why Do You Love Me?", traditional pop on "I Need Love (Standard)", and everything in between sprinkled with Jim's dark flair. One thing is evident, that regardless of the instruments of choice, and era that you feel your transported to, I Need Love sounds like Edmonton. The record at times is restlessly chaotic, the type of restlessness we all get during the winter months north in the 53rd parallel.
A very unconventional album, with a very unconventional physical release. The expense related with vinyl is high, as Jim experienced with his first two releases. This time around, you buy a large poster of the image from Jill Stanton that you see above, and receive a download code. A unique idea that keeps pace in our visual content dominated world.
Currently, Jim is embarking on a month-long tour through Europe but was generous enough to take some time to email some answers to some questions we had here over at Healthy Phat.
Healthy Phat: Was the untraditional format of I Need Love (the amount of tracks and diversity of genres) planned? Or was it something that just happened?
Jim: The format was a tough one. I knew it wouldn't fit on vinyl, but even if it did, it's such a weird album, I didn't think anyone would like it, and with the cost and the wait times, vinyl was too much of a risk for this one. I originally thought tapes, but I figured, if I was ever going to play with a weird new format, this should be the one because it's weird and long anyway. And the great thing about newsprint is that it's a pretty low risk with cost and turnaround time. But so far people seem to dig it.
Healthy Phat: A lot of this album feels “like Edmonton” to me, it reminds us of home. How much of a role did Edmonton play in influencing this album? Where did the majority of the writing and recording take place?
Jim: I started writing around early 2013, just wherever I write, on the street, in my room, at the Empress sometimes. The stuff I recorded, the bulk of the album, was in the jam space I had in the Graphic Arts building on Jasper Ave, an old Art Deco movie house from the 1920s, sort of run down, and threatened with the wrecking ball so we were evicted by the City, and its fate is uncertain still. Edmonton loves to destroy nice things and replace them with dumb things, and then put a plaque up expressing regret that such a nice thing was somehow destroyed and replaced with a dumb thing. So I feel good that I was able to squeeze a record out of that building before it was closed. I don't really know how to record, and I didn't soundproof anything, so it was kind of fun tracking in a creaky, echoing wood room, with Jasper Avenue traffic leaking into all the master takes.
Healthy Phat: The album has been well received thus far, were you nervous at all to release this very unconventional album?
Jim: It's been a pleasant surprise for sure, I never thought people would take to it like this. I think for my fans, my core of mostly Edmonton people who are in my corner already, people who know me, i figured they might get a kick out of it, comparing it with my other stuff, seeing where I'm coming from. I knew this album wouldn't be the one to make new converts, but you never know. I learned a long time ago that every time I worry about what people will like or not, they surprise me. Some of my most unmarketable, personal, self indulgent things have been the fan favourites so you never know.
Healthy Phat: How many tracks didn’t make the cut? Who else had their hand in the creation of I Need Love?
Jim: I wrote this one like the others, pretty much everything I wrote got in. I just don't write as much or as fast as I'd like to, so if I'm hanging onto a piece of music that's not doing it for me, I usually just don't write lyrics to it. And like the others, this one was very personal, I write it all, and I play it all, I even recorded and mixed most of it. There are some notable exceptions, but that's all in the liner notes on Bandcamp.
Healthy Phat: What show are you most excited for in Europe?
Jim: The whole Europe trip is pretty fun, I like getting out and seeing some new places, meeting some new people. I'm looking forward to going back to some of the great places I played last year, like Ä in Berlin, and Cafe la Victoria in Bonn, but all the new places too.
Healthy Phat: Give me your dream Edmonton-only concert bill that you’d headline? Acts can be active or not.
Jim: The great thing about Edmonton is that there are always a ton of great bands at any given time, and chances are, I'll get to play with them all eventually because its such a small town. For my album release I was lucky to have Wares open up, she's easily one of the best performers I've seen in years. My bud Nathan Levasseur's band Tuques are a bit of a white whale, they put out a perfect tape, played a couple times and went on hiatus, so they're pretty high on my dream bill for sure, and two newer bands this last year, Shukov and Nehiyawak; really doing it for me too.
Jom Comyn's I Need Love can be purchased through his Bandcamp, here.