11 August 2015

Albert Hammond Jr - Momentary Masters


Well, sometimes you are sometimes thrown a curve ball.... A suggestion has appeared in my requests which does not fit what I usually listen to.  As you can see from the above photo and title of the blog, this is a review of the third album from the guitarist from the Strokes.  Now, I am not a fan of the Strokes if I am honest; they have always sounded fine, but I find it hard to get away with the vocals.  So whilst I have known of the various side projects of the artists who comprise within the band, I have never went out of my way to find out what they sound like.  But as I have always stated, the blog is about trying to make myself (and the other people who write on here) listen to stuff I would not normally listen to.  After two albums and an EP (which has all be well received by the fans of Mr Hammond Jr), lets see if this album is something I enjoy or I do not enjoy.....

Opening track is called “Born Slippy” which comes across as the love child of Delicate Steve, Death Cab for Cutie, Vampire Weekend and Little Comets.  It is a gentle track which sound likes summer condensed into a three minute anthem.  This is so far removed from what I have heard in the Strokes and it is helped by the fact that Mr Hammond Jr. is a good singer, there is a passion in his voice takes this tale of strange love to heights that I could only wish to hear from his band mates (or vocalist if I am honest).  Without wanting to bash Julian Casablancas any further, maybe the wrong person is singing for The Strokes (for my tastes at least); or maybe he is more suited to this music as this is a great opening track.  “Power Hungry” is a more disco paced number with some dark undertones.  This tale of a fight that is about to be lost once again goes for a tied back and angular indie that has some sweeping keyboard/orchestral moments mixed in as well.  After the initial shock of how much I was enjoying this, I was expecting a law of diminishing returns; this did not happen and I am quite glad about this as the song itself made an instant impact and shows the talent that Mr Hammond Jr. possesses.  The third track is “Caught By My Shadow” (sadly it is not a cover of the Wonder Stuff – maybe next time); this is a punk number that brings the fuzzy guitar peddle out and it feels as if this has been influenced by old school New York Punk rock and Supergrass ‘I Should Coco’ era heavy songs.  This song feels like it could have been took off a Strokes album more than the previous two, it also sounds stunning and once again showcases what Mr Hammond Jr. can do under his own name.

“Coming To Getcha” is the fourth number, with a slow and steady bass, this song about the inevitable departure of someone from your life (be it by running or fighting) is a song of contrasts to me; the verses are minimal for the most part (the jangle of the rhythm guitar, the odd synth pattern coming in, the drums driving the song along), then the chorus is an explosion of passion and sound as the lament is shown and the departed person is stuck on traffic.  It is a story song, it is well performed and would have been the track of the album; but it’s ending is a sudden stop and feels a bit like the end of ‘Monty Python’s Holy Grail’ (i.e. you’re not too sure if that is it, but it real is the end of the piece) which jars the song for me – but it is still a good number overall.  “Losing Touch” can only be describe as a song that does what “Coming To Getcha” could not, it ends properly.  This number is a different beast from the previous song, a song about not being in touch with reality has that quirky guitar which was something I used to love from years ago.  But it does not sound as if it belongs in the past like a museum piece, it sounds refreshing and modern.  What is also has is a hook chorus which I have been humming away ever since I first heard the song – best song on the album.  Which is sadly followed by my least favourite song of the record which is called “Don’t Think Twice”, this sounds like a parlour act trying to mix the styles of Thomas Truax, Johnny Cash and Murphy and The Overtones from The Blues Brothers.  It might be someone else’s cup of tea, but it is not to my tastes. 

“Razor’s Edge” is not a cover of AC/DC (maybe next time), but it is another punk/indie number which is once again a song that I can imagine would have fitted in well in The Strokes back catalogue.  It has a positive energy coming off it from the fast paced drums, the “Last Nite”/”Hard To Explain” riff and thumping bass make this another highlight of this surprising album.  Following on is “Touché” and it has that similar feeling to “Razor’s Edge” and that 2000 tone of indie/punk that first brought Mr Hammond Jr. to the attention of the world is back, but (and I know I will sound like a douche here) it sounds a thousand times better as Mr Hammond Jr. sounds as if he gives a shit about the music and does not sound like he is singing from a coma (sorry for that, but it is what has been the Achilles heel of the Strokes for me).  I love the passion going on in this song and once again I am smiling at how much a change of one tiny thing and making it more personal has improve this style of music for me.  The penultimate track is called “Drunched in Crumbs” is just silly, fun but very silly.  The title, the music and the lyrical whimsy is wonderful to listen to as it is a flight of fancy.  It is a short, sharp and sweet moment near the end of this album and it is stupidly catchy.  However, the last song is called “Side Boob” and it feels like another stripped back version of The Strokes once again.  It has that signature guitar tone (obviously) but also it really could have been taken off anyone any of the Strokes album.  It feels like another fun new wave/punk song that Mr Hammond Jr. is famous for and it ends the album with a fast, sharp punchy number really sums out this album perfectly.

I think that it is safe to say that this is a really surprising record, I was not expecting to find something that I would enjoy s much as I have.  Musically, there is a few departures from his day job; but there is no doubt that this is one of the main creative people behind the Strokes.  I have said it a few times on here, I think he is a better vocalist than the singer in his main act and I will continue to say that as long as I have breath (ok, maybe I didn't stop the bashing).  The songs on this record do not stay around that long and that is fine, it is punchy and it does not take itself too seriously at all.  If you are looking for something new for your New Wave collection, this might be your type of thing.

7 out of ten – This is good and worth checking out

Top track – Losing Touch

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the Albert Hammond Jr website here

You can stream the album from Spotify here

You can stream the album from Deezer here

You can stream the album on Tidal here

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