Two Two-Minute Ditties: Little Joy + Velvet Underground

Sometimes short can be sweet.

Little Joy’s self-titled 2008 debut has to be one of my favorite albums of the last few years, a rarity in a world of failed side-projects floundering in mediocrity. Little Joy is a trio comprised of three already-establised artists: Fabrizio Moretti (of the Strokes), Rodrigo Amarante (Los Hermanos), and Binki Shapiro. The Brazilian-American group named their band after a favorite cocktail haunt in LA… God, I wish I could hang out with them there,  so cool. I bet Fab’s ex Drew Barrymore meets up with them before they kick it at Devendra Banhart’s crumbling-but-charming bungalow. For further evidence check out their retro-cool video for “No One’s Better Sake”… that shrouded figure rattling shakers in the background is none other than freak-folk god Banhart.

ANYWAY, Little Joy is a kick ass album, apparently Nick Hornby (author of music-nerd bible High Fidelity) even voted it his favorite release of  ’08. SO GIVE IT A LISTEN if you haven’t already!

At just two minutes, “Unattainable” is a whisper of a song, you might miss it upon first listen.  But, wow, once you give this seemingly-simple track your attention it really has some substance. Binki Shapiro appears simultaneously innocent and jaded, sweetly singing of world-weary longing. It feels intimate, almost as if we listening to her inner dialogue expressing themes of loneliness and isolation.

This track reminds me of one of my favorite Velvet Underground songs, “After Hours,” the tenth song from their self-titled 1969 album. Drummer Maureen Tucker helms the vocals for this song, in a pure, almost child-like voice that addresses both hope and desperation (“drink a toast to never”… very upbeat, no?).

This fan vid stars Edie Sedgwick, Warhol muse and subject of Dylan’s “Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat”. She is captivating, mysterious, and a little sad. A tragic beauty. Although I am not exactly Sedgwick fan Numero Uno (she strikes me as a bit obnoxious and attention-whorey), one cannot deny her sartorial influence and pop-culture clout. Here, she is both fragile and bruised, a not-so-innocent ingenue.

Complexity bubbles beneath a sweet veneer….

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