Fitz and the Tantrums – Pickin’ Up the Pieces

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.

You can check out more of their stuff on their site, Myspace, Facebook, or Twitter.

“Money Grabber”

“Breakin’ the Chains of Love”


6 thoughts on “Fitz and the Tantrums – Pickin’ Up the Pieces

  1. Ahh thanx for the info. The fact that Mickey worked with Beck does not surprise me at all. Beck, at times, is all about the vintage sound as well.

    Hit me with some Moby thoughts! Also, you shoudl do a rewind day and review Moby’s “Play” Album. That was the big one that we all know whether we “know” it or not.

    1. Ooooh, that is a good one. Perhaps a Moby two-fer? Sounds like a plan to me, my friend. Play was one of the first electronic albums I ever bought and it still holds a special place in my hears!

  2. Money Grabber has been playing non stop in my head for a week. I would have loved to have seen the making of their album, or at least the song “money grabber”. As a fairly new music producer I’d like to think (or fantasize) that they achieved the kind of sound that they did by using vintage gear, vintage microphones and a room somewhat similar to what a 60’s band would record in. I doubt they achieve their 60′ sound by guessing and hoping in just any old recording situation.

    With that said, Maroon 5 exploded, and let’s just say that those cats are not recording in some living room. Although Fitz may have done it partly out of necessity not only financially but also to get the sound he/they wanted. They are clearly influenced and looking to mimic an older West Coast soul kind of feel; whereas Maroon 5 is funky and soulful but seemingly more interested in an updated version of those sounds (commercial appeal and success).

    It also has to do a lot with who mixes/masters it and with what gear. Once again, I’d love to do more research and see who Fitz sought out to mix down and master their stuff. I would seriously be blown away if they DID NOT use vintage analog gear with tubes and the like. Conversely I’m sure Maroon 5 (and their major label) demanded nothing but crystal clear-latest technology of a big guru mixing engineer. I would be surprised if Maroon 5 did not use the latest digital processing tools out there (and probably some analog stuff).

    Speaking of analog versus digital I just read an awesome article on Moby’s new album and how he used his ridiculous collection of analog synths to make it. Any chance that girl with a blog will review it!?

    1. As for Fitz, I know that Mickey Petralia co-produced it (Beck, Flight of the Conchords), Stephen Kaye mixed it, and Bernie Grundman mastered it.
      I seriously can’t wait to see them live. I hear they’re pretty kick ass.

      And you can definitely expect something on the new Moby album, as well as the new Ben Harper that comes out on the same day!

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