Little Joy

Rock critics are seduced by the tendency to call out an album of the summer—especially during the season's opening bell, when the road ahead is waiting, in need of a tasty soundtrack. But what happens when this summer's best album was released last fall, and it just took a few barbecues and hissing lawns for its place to become blindingly apparent?

The record in question was made by Little Joy, a trio that features The Strokes' drummer Fabrizio Moretti, Brazilian vocalist Rodrigo Amarente and Los Angeles musician Binki Shapiro. Their self-titled debut is one of the most enjoyable, easygoing pop records fit for sunshine in recent memory, taking a cue from Devendra Banhart's '60s-loving South America via Laurel Canyon vibe (the group met recording his album Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon, and enlists his producer, Noah Georgeson). But unlike Banhart's recent work, on which he's blotted out his music with his personality, Little Joy is a relaxed, group effort. Amarente's warm croon rides over gently strummed guitars, Moretti facilitates with backing harmonies, guitar and percussion, and Shapiro's honeyed voice leads a few stellar tracks as well.

Moretti won't be on this tour because of Strokes obligations, but that shouldn't affect the sound too drastically. The other two should do just fine bringing their endless summer to life.

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Elliott Johnston