Free and legal MP3: Little Joy (islandy world pop with a wondrous melody)

“No One’s Better Sake” – Little Joy

A delight from beginning to end, “No One’s Better Sake” rolls along with a shuffling, organ-infused island beat and a casual sensibility that belies how beautifully this little song is put together. What we have here is that rare pop composition that is constructed around a full 16-measure melody–listen and you’ll see how the entire verse is an unfolding melody (from 0:18 all the way to 0:54), even as the song’s gentle, world-pop sway implies a simpler melodic framework. The chorus does its magic in eight measures, as the organ comes back to the fore and the song’s lone, exquisitely placed minor chord just melts the heart there at around 1:04. (At least, it feels like the only minor chord; I could be wrong about that.)

Singer/guitarist Rodrigo Amarante has an endearing, laid-back vocal style that gives the lyrics the quality of a developing conversation; he often sings as if he’s just then deciding what to say. At the same time, Amarante’s processed vocals call to mind the Strokes distinctive vocal sound, which may be no accident: the trio Little Joy is a side project for the Strokes’ drummer, Fabrizio Moretti (the third member is singer and multi-instrumentalist Binki Shapiro). Amarante, it should be noted, is far more well-known in his home country, Brazil, than Moretti is in the U.S.; he gained fame as a member and eventual leader of the Brazilian band Los Hermanos, which is currently on hiatus.

“No One’s Better Sake” is a song from Little Joy’s self-titled debut album, which was released in November on Rough Trade Records, to not a whole lot of fanfare. The band took its name from their favorite bar in Echo Park, the section of LA where they lived while recording the album. MP3 once again via the Beggars Group web site, which has had a great run of offerings lately.

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