Strokin' Hammond 

NUVO presents Albert Hammond Jr. (The Strokes), The Mooney Suzuki
Birdy’s Bar & Grill
Tuesday, March 20, $15, 7:30 p.m.

Almost without exception, going solo signifies two moments within a musician’s career. First is the moment when ego overcomes loyalty, and the other is when the musician jumps the shark and ends up playing in a tribute band or something of the sort. Often this happens concurrently. History bears this theory out. All four members of KISS went out and, with the exception of Ace, took a musical dump upon humanity with their horrid “solo” albums. Next thing you know, they’re making disco records and taking the makeup off. Look at Thom Yorke. Was it really necessary to make an album that sounded like a computer with diarrhea? Can anybody hum a Mick Jagger solo song? Get my drift?

This is why it’s such a pleasant surprise to hear Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr.’s new solo record, Yours to Keep. Not only does this NYC debutante manage to make a decent record on his own, he does so without drawing upon his day-gig’s sound. Instead of the Strokes’ decadent garage sound, Hammond has released a record of sunny, psychedelic pop-rock that reveals his secret desire to be Wayne Coyne.

While songs like “101” and “Everyone Gets a Star” don’t stray too far from the Strokes’ formula, they add in just enough syrup to the grit to make for great singles that uniquely show off Hammond’s songwriting chops. Even at the album’s sappiest moments, like “Cartoon Music for Superheroes” or “Hard to Live in the City,” there’s enough muscle going to keep the songs from bogging down into total sugar mush. Meanwhile, tunes like the propulsive “In Transit” and the haunting, John Lennon-ish “Blue Skies” may be among the best songs released in the past couple years.

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