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Albert Hammond, Jr.
Como Te Llama?
Sony BMG
www.alberthammondjr.com


The Strokes' rhythm guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr. made a separate identity for himself in 2006 with the release of his debut solo album, Yours To Keep. It was an excellent start to what should have been a path that followed along the lines of Rod Stewart after he branched off from his band Faces, or like Phil Collins after he went solo from Genesis, but Hammond's second offering, Como Te Llama falls short of such expectations. The album lacks any sparks or memorable tunes that will give it longevity. It's a complete and utter washout that only avid fans will find appealing.

Hammond's group, Marc Eskenazi (guitar), Josh Latanzi (bass), and Matt Romano (drums), move like programmed machines through the tracks. There is very little change in the recipes of folk rock batters from track to track. The band makes loaf after loaf of the same '60s tinged pop with mind-numbing chord dynamics and folksy-wicked piping. It's perfect for people who like the same old mundane trails, but it's a total disappointment to people who expected more from Hammond, whose debut solo album pointed the singer-guitarist in a good direction.

The elasticity of the guitar chords in tracks like "Bargain Of The Century" and "In My Room" move like programmed patterns, and the reggae-sweetened drips added on numbers like "Lisa" and "Borrowed Time" seem like gangly appendages rather than actual pieces connected to the melodies, although the sharp guitar blades piercing the center of "Lisa" pack in some high powered thrusts. Otherwise, the intervals of chord progressions moving in and out of the melodies follow a generic format and predictable schematics. The band does try their hand at shoegazy atmospherics in "Spooky Couch," which does well. The opulent string arrangements create enchanting swirls and the ambient effects are subtle and understated but beautifully tailored.

The band's music has very few points that stand out. Most of the album is handled with hemorrhaging folk rock cuts, taut guitar repetitions stylized with '60s pop inflections, and a few sips of reggae-slanted grooves. The melodic layers are jammed in so snugly that the music seems muddled most of the time, like the keyboard sweeps and snare drum strokes which tangle so tightly through "Feed Me Jack" that it is hard to tell them apart. Hammond's second offering is an album that has very little appeal outside of his core audience, and even they will probably turn back to Hammond's first release, Yours To Keep, because it was just better.

-Susan Frances

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