Spotlight: Travis James & the Acrimonious Assembly of Arsonists


Artist to Watch: Travis James & the Acrimonious Assembly of Arsonists

by Evan Targioni


A band with a name like that is best described by its own lead. Travis James & the Acrimonious Assembly of Arsonists is described by frontman Travis James (what a coincidental name) as “proceeding optimistically in self-defiance of my own apathetic analysis… plus music.” Travis James is a diamond in the rough of local music.

Now, even that description doesn’t give TJ (Travis James) justice. It’s a strong if quirky medley of different instruments and styles, including an accordion player by the name of Mark Sunnman and a “shopping cart” player by the name of Aaron Hjalmarson. Their older music is very folk-punk; however, recent albums such as Overdressed & Under Arrest and Let’s Debt Free have been plugged in, but they still manage to maintain a folk punk-y feel with the accordion and occasionally a piano.

On their Facebook page, they claim their influences are “The fleeting emergence of oppositional phenomena and the harmony that results… that, and dead cops,” and that is fairly accurate.

Travis James has a pretty unique vox, if not a bit rustic, which lends it a certain charm.

The true strength of Travis James, though, is in his lyrics. I think they speak for themselves.


From “Prosperity Through Pointlessness”

“We can be so good at make believe that we can pretend that anything that we do matters. Our sense of time that lies in our puny little minds is resigned to and aligned with a pointless paradigm where there’s no difference between personal and natural disasters.”

From: “Idols of a Vacant Future”

“Can you satisfy the drive to be alive and have less stress when one’s satisfaction makes stress for all the rest others project their stress at those with less so you can’t have less, so at best, it’s a stressful folking mess. If you think you’re no better than anyone else, you’re right, but most don’t, and that makes you better than the rest”


With a strong sound, profound lyrics, and unique singing, Travis James & the Acrimonious Assembly of Arsonists is a powerful package—one that is definitely under-appreciated in the local scene. Fans of more folk-y music will love his albums Not Sorry and Love, Songs & Bombs, while fans of more Punk-y music will love his albums Let’s Debt Free and Overdressed & Under Arrest. However, the unique and well put together sound of TJ is powerful enough to even sway those who usually dislike or don’t care for either folk or punk.