THE SORDID PAST After years of laying in wait and silently honing his own fits of fancy, Jon James -- the Twin Cities' favorite sideman and sleeper guitar harlot - has finally stepped up to the vocal mic with his debut solo release, JON JAMES & THE TRASHCAN FANTASY DANCEBAND. James is well-known on the Minneapolis scene, having collaborated with a large array of high-profile acts. But he has rarely put forth foot as a songwriter or bandleader in his own right. The Trashcan Fantasy is just that -- an imagining of what his dream band might sound like, in all their far-out idealism and awkward teenage fumbling. But don't be fooled. Hype is hype, and James seems to enjoy the deflection. While he revels in both tongue-in-cheek sensationalism and overly self-deprecating tone, the FANTASY is actually an impressive collection of straightforward, catchy songs and airtight performances. With smarty-pants flair, James offers sweet & sour three-minute anthems that meld elements of Brit Invasion, '70s Glam and Power-pop. In fact, while the retro feel is a calculated nod, James also has a keen eye for current affairs -- he lambastes the state-of-the-state by relentlessly poking fun at insipid pop trends, yet winds up sounding imminently 'pop-ish.' A gem of a debut album for lovers of old school radio, indie ethics and modern rock alike.