Monday, February 18, 2013

SOD: Johnny Marr -- Upstarts

Johnny Marr is not a name I expected to see in music headlines in 2013. To be clear, I love The Smiths, and liked Marr's work with Modest Mouse and The Cribs. Yes, I'm a Johnny Marr fan. But he's never released anything as a front man, so I had low expectations for Marr's first solo record, "The Messenger", which is currently streaming free on Rolling Stone.

"The Right Thing Right" opens the record with a Brit-pop banger that's in line with Achtung-era U2 vocals and Oasis' unstoppable pop force. The song is a damn fine opener. The next two songs continue to push angular sonics with catchy hooks, and then comes "Upstarts".

"Upstarts" kicks hard with a signature Marr riff, followed by a brash vocal delivery that Nick Lowe would be proud of, singing "Ohhhh, I feel it comin' round / I heard it sounds the good life I know". The lyrics aren't quite up to the level of production or instrumental performance, but this is a guitar rock album first and foremost, and at that it succeeds. I'm surprised and excited to give "The Messenger" a lot more plays in coming weeks.

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