Since the end of last year, I’ve really found myself being pulled towards a higher level of optimism on every level. I’ve shied away from most of the news, commercials for one illness after another, whether it’s Restless Leg Syndrome or nail fungus, or even the rants of negative people in general. We can’t turn a corner without some kind of “war” on something or 24/7 coverage of the death and lives of useless celebrities. Jeez. Enough already.
To drown it all out I’ve turned to my music more than ever for inspiration and, dare I say, joy and happiness. In my search for new music that brings about such emotions, the universe has been delivering one gem after another to my door.
Yours To Keep, the debut solo release from Albert Hammond, Jr., has been on repeat for a few weeks now, shooting rays of sunshine onto the coldest and dreariest of days, and we’ve had plenty of those in here in Colorado, enough to “out-bitter” the most angst Seattle resident. Snow. We’re over it.
On these 12 tracks it feels as though Hammond is really spreading his emotional and creative wings, tapping into something deeper than the rock party music we all enjoyed from him and his bandmates in The Strokes. Even with a title of “Call An Ambulance” there’s a wide-eyed pulse of bouncy freedom, that harkens back to the scene in the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sunshine Kid, where Paul Newman has his lady riding on the handlebars of a bike, riding through a flowing field while “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” chimes in. A happy time between gun fights.
Pleasant surprises pop up, from the Bourbon Street parade ending to “It’s Hard To Live in the City,” to the wooden, Playskool band clanks and astral world chimes on “Blue Skies,” causing an irresistible grin, like finding a five dollar bill on the sidewalk or a chocolate on your pillow…before you lay your head down for the night. Or the intro and outro on “Scared,” where he uses the hissing of a record ending as the beginning and ending rhythm for the track. Brilliant.
And who couldn’t love a blissful romp ‘round with “Well…All Right,” (made popular by Buddy Holly) drifting gracefully with angelic backing harmonies, tambourine, and other hand-held percussion toys, as Hammond calls out to his musician brothers, “bring it home boys.”
Hammond’s butterfly-winged vocals, laced instrumentation and songwriting, joins the ranks of more recent soloists with soul and a deeply layered, musical substance, including Peter Walker, or those who left their mark years ago, from Michael Penn, the men from Crowded House, or even Albert Hammond Sr., who penned classic 70’s hits such as, “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before” and “It Never Rains in Southern California.”
Various artists have contributed their talents to his ventures, from Julian Casablancas (The Strokes), Josh Lattanzi (bass), and Matt Romano (drums), to Ben Kweller and Sean Lennon. He’s out on the road now with Marc Philippe Eskenazi (guitar / keyboards), Steve Schiltz (guitar), and Todd Dahlhoff (bass), performing in Austin for the SXSW New Line Showcase.
Kaffeine Buzz and the Filter Creative Group have an Albert Hammond, Jr. prize package that is “Yours To Keep” for one lucky KB reader:
– 1 signed Yours To Keep CD
– 1 awesome T-shirt
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell us what makes you happy, what kicks your bad mood to the curb, what gets you dancing like Jack Black during the “Walking on Sunshine” scene in High Fidelity.
Yours To Keep hit the streets this Tuesday, March 6 on Scratchie/New Line Records.