Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Little Joy- Little Joy

Rating: 7.2
Released: Nov. 4, 2008, Rough Trade

The Strokes are, after all, a great band. Their contribution to modern rock cannot be understated, paving the way for hordes of indie, throwback bands to rock the hipster dens and the stadiums alike, combining The Kinks rave-ups with post-punk fury.

Together, the five-piece Brooklyn band has done a lot for our ears, starting with 2001's Is This It.
It would seem to be asking a lot for the band's solo members to make their mark too.

Enter Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti, who has teamed with girlfriend Binki Shapiro and Brazilian singer Rodrigo Amarante to make the aptly-titled Little Joy.

The record is remarkably pleasing, stuffed with lilting acoustic ballads, gentle tropical shuffles and, occasionally, a Strokes-style rock-out.

Like Panda Bear's 2007 masterpiece Person Pitch, this is a summer record arriving just in time for winter. Employing ukulele, crystal-clear guitars and Amarante's sleepy croon, this is perfect music for a nap in a hammock, if it wasn't too frigid outside.

This isn't the first indie band to use world music to make a record that will appeal to American sensibilities. Look no further than New Mexico-wonderkid Beirut if you want proof.

"Brand New Start" sounds like a 60's Drifters standard, carried by reggae-lite horns and an infectious, blissful chorus. "There ain't no lover like the one I got/she and I and a brand new start/ got to give all my love," Amarante confesses. It's not often that hipsters admit to being happy.

Other tracks, like "Don't Watch Me Dancing," are immediately accessible, coupling what could be two songs about a wallflower into one Velvet Underground meets Yo La Tengo tune.

"Keep Me In Mind" is the closest you'll get to a Strokes song here. "Evaporar" closes out the album with Amarante singing in Portugese, a fitting reminder that we owe Brazil more than we owe Brooklyn for this album. It sounds ripe for the plucking in Wes Anderson's next film.


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