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Saturday, January 10, 2009

From the Dorks' Soundtrack: Little Joy

Music from Episode #49

Band: Little Joy

Album: Little Joy

Song: The Next Time Around

So I think it would be pretty obvious that I am a fan of The Strokes. Sure they were supposed to be saviors of all things rock and roll but they knew going in that they weren't going to be anything more than a really great band with really catchy lyrics and a keen ear for a good hook. They even had the good humor to title their first album "Is This It" after being touted as the next rock and roll messiah's by everything short of the Vatican itself. They have released 3 full length albums since 2001 and are currently on hiatus.

The hiatus has left time for members of the band to start their own side-projects and they have been just as enjoyable as the band itself and in many ways prove the talent that each of the individual members really have. First was guitarist Albert Hammond Jr.'s solo effort Yours To Keep and then last year's follow up ¿Cómo Te Llama? both of which were really strong efforts and memorable albums.

In November Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti's side project Little Joy released their first album and yesterday I bought it at Vintage Vinyl on Delmar. Moretti is joined by Rodrigo Amarante from Los Hermanos and newcomer Binki Shapiro and between the three of them they have managed to craft one of the most relaxed and relaxing albums that I have heard in the last year. I put it in once I got back to my car and I was instantly wishing that I was on a beach somewhere with nothing to do and no where to go. Each of them is incredibly talented and really put on a showcase of how to create music without sounding like they are trying too hard. Many of the songs comes across as though they are an old classic that you've never heard before just being sung by friends sitting around the living room or maybe the campfire. Amarante's vocals put you immediately at ease and he has sort of a crooner mixed with ... well (Strokes lead singer) Julian Casablancas, but very much his own. The songs where Shapiro sings really have a bit of restrained magic to them as well, she sounds like she could break into tears or laughter at any moment and somehow that dichotomy manages to come across as perfect.

I really think that this is going to be an album that is consistent rotation for me for a long time to come. There is something about it that instantly evokes The Beach Boys mixed with a little more garage rock sound. I really feel like it would have been one of my favorite albums of 2008 if I had picked it up on the day it came out but I think that it will be comfortable on my list of overlooked albums of 2008. I think that when The Strokes go back into the studio later this year they'll be hard pressed to not include some of the sounds that the individual members have created on their own during their hiatus. I know I'll be sure to check out their next album and I also know that I look forward to the next side-project release from bassist Nikolai Fraiture and his band Nickel Eye which comes out later this January.

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