Pickin Up the Pieces by Fitz & the Tantrums (2011)


OK, so I’ve made it crystal clear on this blog that throwback artists Fitz & the Tantrums are my favorite new band. This record is the shit! I’ve immersed myself in everything they have done in recent weeks, so it’s hard for me to even remember where the journey started (most likely heard them on SiriusXM). Here are the basics…frontman Fitz has been in the music industry for a long time, basically underachieving as a musician until his “a-HA moment” woke him up, and inspired him to create this new sound. You can hear the whole story as told by Fitz himself in their appearance on Live From Daryl’s House…this episode is great, and ended way too soon.

But Fitz isn’t going after it alone. He employed the services of beautiful and talented R&B singer Noelle Scaggs, whose presence and voice turn the Tantrums into a 2011 version of Motown’s classic supergroups. Title track ‘Pickin Up the Pieces’ fits that description perfectly, sounding like it could have been recorded exactly the same way 50 years ago. Noelle’s verse complete with background “woops” + the flute loops at each transition + “the reason I stay” breakdown at the end = MOTOWN. But it really doesn’t get any more old school than the monster single ‘Moneygrabber’…my favorite song of the last year, for sure. If you saw Kings of Comedy and memorized the Motown mic steps, get practicing and crank up ‘Moneygrabber’. I can’t get enough of this song…its got layers and layers of musical genius at play, and even a classic “she’s a gold digger” message. You can get the song for FREE on the band’s website, so quit farting around and get it!

‘News 4 U’ and ‘Don’t Gotta Work It Out’ are more gems…this time it’s a more serious tone, but the music stays simple and full. I don’t know much about the musicians in the Tantrums, but they are very good and seem to understand the value of creating a cohesive sound. None of the instruments tend to stand out, but if you’re listening carefully it’s easy to single out shining moments. Album closer ‘Tighter’ has a more modern sound and cool organ/orchestral instrumentation, and shows off the group’s emotional side. ‘Rich Girls’ puts the focus back on Fitz, and (at the risk of sounding redundant) takes the flavor back to the 1960s. If you’re still not sure what I’m talking about with these Motown comparisons, take a listen to some Four Tops (‘Ain’t No Woman’) and Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell (‘Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing’ or ‘Your Precious Love’) to see what I mean. Surely it’s way too early to put Fitz & the Tantrums in the league of these legends, but for the purposes of genre comparison I think these artists associate nicely.

There isn’t much more to say, because the story of Fitz & the Tantrums’ beginning is still being written. This is the ONLY “can’t miss” record of 2011 so far (G. Love = I am biased, Radiohead = fail) so go and get it!

music turtle recommends: BUY IT TODAY!

What do you think about this album? Comment below


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