Published Sep 24, 2008What's the last thing a drummer says in a band?
"Hey guys, why don't we try one of my songs?"
It's the age-old joke in the music industry, a drummer trying his/her hand at songwriting. Normally situated in the back where all they do is feed the rhythm, for decades drummers have been relegated to minimal contributions, unfairly, of course. However, all you need to do is take one look at a recently uncovered classic, deceased Beach Boy Dennis Wilson's Pacific Ocean Blue, to see just how wrong this stereotype is. Or how about Dave Grohl, who rose out from under the massive shadow of Kurt Co... on second thought, yeah, Dennis Wilson! Hooray!
Also bitten by the songwriting bug is Fabrizio Moretti, better known as the time-keeper in the Strokes. Now I know what you're thinking, I thought it myself: "Just 'cause he's this hot shot in a slick rock'n'roll band doesn't mean he can write a tune." But it turns out he can, much like his band-mates Albert Hammond Jr., Nikolai Fraiture (Nickel Eye with Nick Zinner and Regina Spektor),= and of course, Julian Casablancas, who's been moonlighting with Santogold and Pharrell Williams. (This leaves guitarist Nick Valensi as the only ego-free member...)
Moretti's talent will obviously be doubted by some, but the first three songs to leak from his band, Little Joy, are surprisingly great. Also featuring Fab's girlfriend Binki Shapiro and Rodrigo Amarante of Los Hermanos, Little Joy are a far cry from the swaggering rock'n'roll the Strokes sell in droves.
The fittingly titled "Brand New Start" is a modest little pop song, with a bouncy drumbeat and Hawaiian guitar riff that emits some carefree vibes, mostly thanks to some subtle horns. Fab's voice has that sand-papery roughness that his band-mate Julian is popularized for, but he uses it to croon with, which adds substantial personality. "No One's Better Sake" is carried by its offbeat rhythm and some wacky organ that keeps it from spiraling into moodier territory, which hits on successor "With Strangers," a cheerlessly sublime tune that shows this guy has more depth than your typical rocker who gallivants with gorgeous models.
Little Joy's self-titled debut will drop November 4 through Rough Trade, and judging by these humble selections, it's gonna be another case against that cruel and archaic drummer stereotype.