New James album's cover art sparks controversy

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Recently reunited British rock band James’s 10th studio album, Hey Ma, hit stores in the U.K. on April 8, courtesy of Mercury Records. While the band’s sound hasn’t changed much from early albums like 1993's Laid, the band takes a decidedly political tone this time around; Hey Ma's anti-war title track laments “the boys in body bags,” and “Upside” tells the tale of immigrant workers trying to provide for their families back home.

The Hey Ma cover art—a baby reaching for a handgun next to a pile of building blocks that spell out the album's title—is perhaps its most political statement, and has already stirred up a storm of controversy across the Atlantic. The U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority banned the artwork from appearing in any billboard campaigns promoting Hey Ma.

Despite the advertising ban, the band elected not to change the album cover. Guitarist Larry Gott said the art was inspired by the story of an American infant who was accidentally issued a firearms license, and is meant to convey a powerful message. “The scale of the reaction has been a surprise, but we kind of expected there'd be some ripples", guitarist Larry Gott told Dotmusic. "Firearms are dangerous, they're not to be taken likely, and we as a society are becoming overfamiliarised with the image of guns and gun culture."

James will kick off a full-fledged European tour tonight in Bradford. No U.S. dates have been announced at this time, and Hey Ma has yet to be picked up by a Stateside distributor.

Where the neighbors will complain about the noises above:

- Bradford @ Bradford St. George's Hall
10 - Derby @ Derby Assembly Rooms
11 - Lincoln @ Lincoln Engine Shed
12 - Liverpool @ Liverpool University
14 - Newcastle @ Newcastle Carling Academy
15 - Sheffield @ Sheffield Carling Academy
17 - London @ Shepherd's Bush Empire
18 - Norwich @ Norwich UEA
19 - Oxford @ Oxford New Theatre
21 - Bristol @ Bristol Colston Hall
22 - Blackpool @ Blackpool Empress Ballroom
24 - Edinburgh @ Edinburgh Corn Exchange
25 - Aberdeen @ Aberdeen AECC

- Murcia @ SOS Festival Murcia
10 - Colmbra, Portugal @ Praca da Cancao
11 - Braga, Portugal @ Braga Municipal Park

- Isle of Wight @ Isle of Wight Festival
28 - Athens, Greece @ Ejekt Festival

- Leeds @ Leeds Carling Academy
12 - Glasgow @ Glasgow SECC
13 - Birmingham @ Birmingham NIA
15 - London @ Brixton Academy
16 - London @ Brixton Academy
19 - Manchester @ G-Mex/Manchester Central

Hey Ma tracklist:

1. Bubbles
2. Hey Ma
3. Waterfall
4. Oh My Heart
5. Boom Boom
6. Semaphore
7. Upside
8. Whiteboy
9. 72
10. Of Monsters And Heroes And Men
11. I Wanna Go Home

Related links:
James on MySpace
Paste: James Rings Out Details of New Album

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