Jenny and Johnny: I’m Having Fun Now


RIYL: Rilo Kiley, Sleigh Bells, Buckingham/Nicks

41lA4aYzsHL._SCLZZZZZZZ_[1] Part blog rock summit, part Laurel Canyon throwback, I’m Having Fun Now offers further proof that 2010 is the year of the guy/girl duo. We’ve already had the second She & Him record, Bird and the Bee released their album of Hall & Oates covers, and Sleigh Bells set the Web on fire over the summer – heck, even Nu Shooz has a new album out. Now comes the debut offering from Jenny and Johnny, better known as Rilo Kiley frontwoman Jenny Lewis and her beau, Scottish singer/songwriter Johnathan Rice.

It reads like a Pitchfork editor’s wet dream, but I’m Having Fun Now is more like a Buckingham/Nicks for the Aughts, with a dash of paisley-patterned ’80s jangle thrown in for good measure. This isn’t exactly surprising, given Lewis’ penchant for paying homage to her L.A. musical roots with Rilo Kiley, but these songs serve as a pleasant reminder that Lewis understands the music on a level that few of today’s ’70s California Gold fetishists ever approach – as well as harmony-drenched proof that, whatever the future might hold for their day gigs, Lewis and Rice were meant to sing together.

There aren’t any bad songs here, and neither are there any brain-drilling, grab-you-by-the-collar pop masterpieces – which is as it should be. At its core, I’m Having Fun Now feels like an album rooted in the late mornings and lazy afternoons of domestic bliss, and who wants to bother swinging for the songwriting fences when your loved one is near at hand? “I don’t believe in sucking your way to the top,” declares Lewis in the tres Fleetwood Mac-ish “My Pet Snakes,” and that’s just as well – with records this effortlessly alluring, the top will come to her. (Warner Bros. 2010)

Jenny and Johnny MySpace page

  

Elizabeth & the Catapult: Taller Children

What do you get when you cross a classically trained but independently minded pianist with two folk/rock instrumentalists? You get a Joni Mitchell/Aimee Mann/Jenny Lewis hybrid, which is probably accurate when describing the music of New York City based trio Elizabeth & the Catapult. This jazzy alt-pop trio, fronted by singer Elizabeth Ziman, released an EP on their own in 2006 and then created enough of a buzz through touring that they were courted by major labels. But they ultimately signed with indie Verve Forecast, and the guess here is so that the group could maintain creative control, which is a good thing for all of us. Their full length debut, Taller Children, has two of the group’s best tracks from the EP, the bouncy and snarky “Momma’s Boy” and the dreamy, Jill Cunniff-ish “Right Next to You.” But there’s much more, with the rest of the LP continuing to jump between bouncy and dreamy, but Ziman and her cohorts deliver it all with precision and pizazz. Other standouts are the uber catchy title track, melancholy “Rainiest Day of Summer” and quirky “Everybody Knows.” (Verve Forecast 2009)

Elizabeth & the Catapult MySpace Page

  

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