A cynic might observe that members of The Strokes seem to feel obliged to each release a solo or spin-off album before the most celebrated of New York garage bands end their hiatus. In the past six months alone we’ve had guitarist Albert Hammond Jr’s second album, a debut from drummer Fabrizio Moretti’s side-project Little Joy, and now bassist Nikolai Fraiture gets in on the act with his ‘other band’, Nickel Eye. Making up the numbers are London trio South and – Fraiture being a Stroke n’all – cameos from Regina Spektor and Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Nick Zinner. Unsurprisingly, the bass sits in the foreground of the mix, especially in the ska-tinged Brandy of the Damned, while there is more than a passing resemblance to Fraiture’s full-time band on You And Everyone Else. Putting preconceived expectations aside, this is a satisfying work of homespun folk-rock. Not the most earth-shattering of debuts, but it plugs a gap already part-filled by Hammond Jr and Moretti.
Released on 26 Jan
You can’t really begrudge Albert Hammond Jr his solo career. The Strokes aren’t exactly prolific, Julian Casablancas does most of that band’s songwriting, and with their Lower East Side hipster image to keep up, it’s easy to imagine that private universe becoming an exceedingly cramped place for someone as individually creative as Hammond Jr. But as much as he’d like us to forget about his other band when in solo mode, it’s hard to get too excited about side-projects, no matter the sincerity invested in them. Yours To Keep was a perfectly good record, and so is ¿Cómo Te Llama? He employs a similarly lackadaisical singing style to Casablancas on ‘Bargain Of A Century’, although it begins to strain by new single ‘GfC’. ‘Victory At Monterey’ and the instrumental ‘Spooky Couch’ (featuring a piano cameo from Sean Lennon) take Albert Hammond Jr as far as he’s been, but so far that extent has never gone beyond a certain other band.
¿Cómo Te Llama? is released on 7 July by Rough Trade
You can currently listen to the entire album on Albert Hammond Jr’s MySpace. What a generous chap.