Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Albert Hammond Jr. at the Bowery Ballroom

Albert Hammond, Jr. was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of a pop singer and a model. His father, Albert Hammond, had a hit in 1972 with "It Never Rains in Southern California," and his mother, Claudia Fernández, was a beauty pageant winner in South America. While attending boarding school in Switzerland, the younger Hammond met Julian Casablancas. In New York City in 1998, Hammond reunited with Casablancas, who invited him to play guitar in the newly forming Strokes. The Strokes went on to sell five million records. Hammond's third solo album, Momentary Masters, released on July 31, 2015, is his first solo album in seven years.

At the Bowery Ballroom for two consecutive sold out nights, Hammond drew a clear line between his solo work and the Strokes. In the Strokes, Hammond plays rhythm guitar with an occasional lead. With his own band, he sang lead and often played no instruments at all, allowing the band to back him while he crooned two handedly into a microphone. Hammond's solo material was rooted in singer-songwriter sensibilities, but backed by indie rocking drive, particularly in the newer compositions. Hammond sang pop melodies emotively, often at the verge of being strained, as jangling  guitars and throbbing bass lines powered the songs. All songs were from his solo albums and the AHJ EP, even the unplanned "Blue Skies" that he broke into alone on his electric guitar as his crew attempted to resolve a problem with the bass amplifier. "Aren't you in the Strokes?" someone in the audience called out during a lull between songs. "Get him out of here," Hammond responded jokingly. Hammond proved that he was capable of leading a performance independent of the Strokes, but so far it seems unlikely that his solo output will eclipse the quality teamwork he shares with the Strokes.

Visit Albert Hammond Jr. at www.alberthammondjr.com.