The way the organ in "Bright Young Thing" (#47 of 2006) interacts with its vocal melody still leaves us feeling warm about the Strokes' guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr.'s solo career. It certainly isn't the only bright spot on his debut album, Yours to Keep, which was released elsewhere in October (it was just annouced today that the album will have an official U.S. release in March).
Hammond wins us over not by proving he can do the Strokes thing, too, but rather in the moments he sounds nothing like them. This is not to say that there aren't Strokes-ish affectations on the record; to the contrary, there are a few rhythm guitar licks that sound familiar. But on some songs it sounds like Hammond has been listening to the Jon Brions of the world.
All indications are that the Strokes are doing fine, and we'd certainly not want to kill them off. What the Toaster really would like to see is Hammond to get a bigger role in the band's repertoire; perhaps Julian could turn off his condenser and hand the lead vox over to Hammond once in a while. We're not holding our breath.
Meanwhile, Hammond is touring with, of all acts on Earth, Incubus. We hereby bite our tongues.
Mister Toaster was a little taken aback when he heard the first leaked song from the forthcoming Shins album, "Phantom Limb," blasting out of the speakers at the mall over the holidays, marking the third time he'd heard it in public that weekend. An endorsement from Zach Braff will do that, we suppose.
The single certainly meets the bar the Shins have set for themselves on past releases. The melody sails freely into patterns that sound somewhat unnatural at first and ever-so-natural on every listen thereafter. In that way, "Phantom Limb" is yet another Shins' calling card, the song that gets stuck in the head before the head can pick up what the lyrics are.
What's left to be seen is how the rest of the album stacks up; James Mercer has described Wincing in interviews as an album much more along the lines of Oh, Inverted World, except - and this excites us - with higher fidelity. Low-fi, after Chutes Too Narrow we guess, would just be disingenuous.
With releases from the New Pornographers, the Arcade Fire and others coming at us soon, giving us unreasonably high expectations for the first half of 2007, the Shins have to get us off on the right foot in two weeks.
With Saturday's passing of "Sneaky" Pete Kleinow, one of the world's finest pedal steel players, we thought it only appropriate to eulogize him with his own twang.
Thanks to 33/45 for posting a few Flying Burrito Brothers cuts and providing the Toaster and its listeners with the Burrito'd "Close Up the Honky-Tonks," which All Music tells us was intended for their second album, Burrito Deluxe.