Buzzed Bands Podcast, Ep. 2 w/ Cold Blood Club

Friday, June 05, 2009

Fitz & The Tantrums - Songs For A Break-Up

Gabe took a listen to the Fitz & The Tantrums album, here's what he had to say.

Are there any blue-eyed soul groups that aren’t at least 40 years old? I guess Hall & Oates did it in the 70s. Bowie sometimes delved in, but that was a long time ago, too. I read one blogger describe Fitz and the Tantrums thusly, and I can’t think of a better or easier description, so I’m gonna plagiarize it: Imagine Amy Winehouse, if she was white, male, and sane.

It’s got a sound that is so familiar and stirring, it surprises you that there aren’t more people doing it. But it’s easy to confuse resurrection of forgotten styles with originality. Or maybe, in a world of rock and roll where seemingly everything has been done, resurrection, or reinvention, is the new originality.

Apparently, the inspiration for the entire concept of the band came from a church organ virtually falling into Fitz’s lap. His neighbor was moving out, and they had the dusty old thing sitting in the basement, unused. He bought it for 50 bucks. He also claims that the entire album was recorded in his living room, using “one crappy old mic.” Quite a story. Sounds something like destiny, and I hope its true.

Whatever. This sounds good. And I like it. The recording sounds like an old 60s soul LP spinning away on top of your cool uncle’s turntable. And the songwriting itself also matches the era.

But, this is where my only real criticism of the band emerges. If they can find their own sort of voice and deliver it with this sound, I think they could be truly original. As they are now, with lyrics about love and heartbreak, classically delivered, it walks a little too close to the “musical tourism” line for me. I hear him singing about the darkness, but I don’t really feel it.

I have in mind the Amy Winehouse song, “Back to Black,” or whatever it’s called. You don’t have to know her sordid history to feel the dark place those lyrics squirm out of.

Take into account the fact that I’m writing this about an unsigned band. Although this probably won’t last long, it’s still surprising.

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