Nestled on the fabled Sunset Boulevard in sunny Los Angeles, a seemingly non-descript cocktail bar called Little Joy rests. To the casual observer, this bar may appear just like many other bars all over the country. However, one major difference exists between Little Joy and most local watering holes. This unassuming drinking establishment happens to have inspired the name of one of the best albums of 2008.
Little Joy’s self-titled debut album, released November 4, 2008, is the brainchild of two established artists: Fabrizio Moretti and Rodrigo Amarante, of The Strokes and Los Hermanos, respectively. Moretti has already found a great deal of success in the music industry, as The Strokes were one of the leading bands in the garage rock renaissance of the early 2000s. So widespread was The Strokes’ influence that in 2002 the Strokes’ debut album became synonymous with New York rock.
So what would cause Moretti to distance himself from his bread-winning day job and embark on a solo project? Perhaps he was inspired by some of his fellow band mates. Albert Hammond Jr. and Nikolai Fraiture, both members of The Strokes, have released financially and critically successful solo albums in the years following The Strokes’ last studio album.
The eleven-song album is a chance for Moretti to flex his musical prowess. Picking up guitar, background vocals, and occasionally even melodica duties, Moretti definitely proves he is more than a drummer. The third member of Little Joy, Binki Shapiro, has a very unique voice. All of the tracks featuring Binki on lead vocals are definitely highlights (See “Unattainable”). Her quiet, effortless style of singing is reminiscent of a bygone era of female vocalists. Amarante plays guitar and is the lead singer. At times his singing is eerily similar to The Strokes’ frontman Julian Casablancas, but the tone and sound of these songs is so different than that of The Strokes that the similarity is a positive, not a cheap knockoff. The trio has mastered a folksy, surf-rock, melodic pop formula that absolutely works for them.