Man, I got this album a little after it came out last year, and totally forgot about it until a well-timed reminder from Mikey Shanley.
Fitz and the Tantrum’s debut album, Pickin’ Up the Pieces came out most likely when I was hardcore hooked on something else (Decemberists? Two Door Cinema Club?) and unfortunately, fell by the wayside. Lucky for them, the new releases right now are substantially lacking and I need some new tunes.
For this album, founder Michael Fitzpatrick enlisted friend James King and The Rebirth’s Noelle Scaggs (you might also know her from Dilated Peoples or the Black Eyed Peas) as well as Joseph Karnes, Jeremy Ruzumna, and John Wicks. Recorded in Fitzpatrick’s living room on a second (or third or fourth) hand organ, Pickin’ Up the Pieces is on the right side of the fine line that is neo-soul (see: Honeycut). They don’t sound like their trying too hard (see: Maroon Five) and it really works out for them. Don’t get me wrong, I kind of have a shameful love for Maroon Five, but there’s a good chance that’s because they’re soooo hokey. It’s fun, but I’d never be able to take them seriously.
Also awesome, is their selection of instrumentation. Mostly, the absolute absence of a guitar. Anywhere. There’s organ, saxophone, flute, Scagg’s voice (which I’m going to include as an instrument, because it’s that utterly awesome) but not a single strum of a guitar. Despite that, there’s certainly no lack of full sound anywhere to be had on this album. It comes off like actual 60’s B-sides, not cheap knock offs. Seriously, check out the video for “Breakin’ the Chains of Love” below. Crazy!
And what can I say? The likelyhood of this album putting you in a good mood on a dreary, Monday, Pittsburgh morning? Pretty good. A.
“Breakin’ the Chains of Love”