Tag Archives: More Than Just A Dream

CONCERT: Fitz & The Tantrums (Acoustic), 10/22/13 – Worcester, MA

A "League" of their own.

No tantrums here, just some good ol’ music.

Hailing from Los Angeles, soulful sextet Fitz & The Tantrums has been around for nearly five years now, but are still gaining new fans on a regular basis. From their humble beginnings playing small clubs in California to a big fall tour this year around the nation with the electro-pop duo Capital Cities, the group is making their mark on popular music with an authentic old school vibe that has shone through all aspects of the band, from their material to their look. Their biggest hit to date on my chart, “MoneyGrabber”, spent a week at the top back in 2011, a song I initially didn’t like but slowly grew into over time. That was from their first LP, 2010’s Pickin’ Up The Pieces. However, with a new album making waves on the Billboard 200 and a few songs over the radio, the five men and one woman that comprise the band are more popular than ever, having played around with their sound a bit on their most recent collection to skew in a new wave direction. However, it also remains true to their R&B roots.

Playing a short set on the fourth floor at Club Maxine’s in downtown Worcester, the band was split in half as what seems to be case with most of their radio gigs, with lead vocalist (and new father!) Michael Fitzpatrick, tambourine and vocalist Noelle Scaggs and bassist Joseph Karnes at the exclusive event with a trio of songs from their latest studio album, More Than Just A Dream, available on Elektra/Atlantic Records. With a retro-themed room at the venue and a retro-sounding band to boot, you couldn’t have asked for a better fit. Of course, the band took some pictures beforehand with several fans and were courteous about it before taking to the floor and getting down to business after a nice introduction.

First off was “The Walker”, which was recently announced as the second Alternative and AAA single from the record. It’s also received a few television placements in the last few weeks. Built around some steady whistling, the more bare arrangement still gave off as much as fun as the studio cut, with Fitzpatrick taking on a different melody. I was obviously jealous that I can’t whistle. “Walker” isn’t the only current release that’s trying to bring back that trend on the Alternative survey, but in my opinion, it’s the strongest of the bunch. (Feel free to disagree.) Next up was “Fools Gold”, another great track from the effort and very much a contender for a single down the line. I almost didn’t recognize as a stripped down piece, but it was by far the best performance of the three, with Fitzpatrick sounding more energetic vocally and Karnes plugging away at his guitar.

“Gold” was followed by a steady stream of questions from both audience members and on-air personalities – a bevy of musical influences (answers included hip-hop, soul, even a little Nirvana and Rush for Scaggs), playing with musical legend Daryl Hall on the web series Live At Daryl’s House (Fitzpatrick noted that Hall’s mother told him that he sounded like Hall, to which he responded, “Can I get a witness?”) and all the talk shows they’ve been on lately (Conan, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, etc.) Finally, they dug into “Out Of My League”, the song that recently became their first #1 song on the Alternative chart and biggest over all single of their career. We got some clapping involved, a little musical direction by Scaggs leading the crowd and the people were enjoying themselves. “League” spent five weeks at #2 on my chart back in April and May, so I’ve obviously been enjoying the song for some time, and they made sure to bring the flavor even in an acoustic setting. I’m sure it would rock more if I ever saw the full six-piece band live on stage.

The band and their label rep were in a rush to drive down to Providence for a gig after the end of this, so I wasn’t able to chat with the act or get any sort of photograph with them, but that sort of thing happens sometimes. I’m still content that I managed to see them if only for a short bit. Their smooth jams are going to continue on for a long while to come. Let’s just hope they get the same kind of embrace come the next era, especially if it’s in the same league as their latest.

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SINGLE REVIEW: Fitz and the Tantrums – “Out Of My League”

A "League" of their own.

A “League” of their own.

Download “Out Of My League” on iTunes.

It’s been almost two-and-a-half years since Fitz and the Tantrums released their first full-length set, Pickin’ Up The Pieces, which became one of my favorite discoveries of 2011. It was their blend of jazz, rock and soul that led them to big television appearances and an international tour. Last year, the sextet went back into the studio, and now, they’re putting out their second album, More Than Just A Dream, on May 7, which just so happens to be a lyric plucked out of this first single from the effort, “Out Of My League”. The song doesn’t officially go to radio until March 12, but I got my paws on a copy of the song and it may just be my favorite single from them yet. Plus, the group just posted this single cover on their Facebook page, and it’s now on YouTube! Sounds like some Fitz fans are pretty happy right now.

Clocking in at 3:13, the band keeps things short while still packing a major musical punch. Lyrics on this one are from Noelle Scaggs, with production by Michael Fitzpatrick and Tony Hoffer and additional writing provided by other members of the band. (Thanks to FATT Management for the update.) The sextet’s somehow found a way to merge an 80’s new wave sensibility with their more familiar 60’s sound to create a really catchy single that meets somewhere in the middle. It’s a noticeable change of pace for the band, but the energy they create is always enjoyable, and this single is certainly no different in that respect.

Our tale tells of a man who desperately wants to be in love; he’s waited “forty days and forty nights … for a girl like you to come and save my life.” Well, what luck! He finds a girl. However, the girl for him is no ordinary one… she’s “out of my league/got my heart beat racing/if I die, don’t wake me/’cause you were more than just a dream.” He’s clearly enamored with her, holding hands, analyzing that “all the wonders that remain become one simple plan.” In a simple song like this, there’s nothing overly deep to analyze, but it’s still a strong lyric. There’s no bitterness or tension as found in the singles on their prior effort, which is again, reflected in the arrangement and energy of the piece. It’s good to hear them sounding optimistic about a relationship! You know, maybe us listeners living the single life can find a little hope in that.

The only thing that’s missing on this is the brass section, which you can find quite a bit of their last album, and maybe it’ll show up on other cuts from their forthcoming record. On the other hand, the arrangement is already packed enough on this single that it doesn’t need them. Though it’s retro in nature, it’s still going to sound fresh on the radio; think Electric Guest‘s “This Head I Hold” with a peppy sounding organ, a few “ooh oohs” here and there and some excellent tambourine work, I must say. It’s enough of an appetizer to satisfy fans on their last album while still expanding their horizons into a generation where singles inspired by the heavy drum beats and synthesizers of the 80’s rule the charts. So, yes, it should and will be more successful than their breakthrough hit, “MoneyGrabber”, which ended up as the #5 single of the year 2011 at AAA radio. It’ll definitely do damage at Alternative and AAA radio and possibly Hot Adult Contemporary, where it’ll fit amongst the rank of other dated sounds by Muse and Neon Trees, among others.

It’s absolutely fantastic and so much more than I was expecting. Watch out, radio and retail, Fitz and the Tantrums is headed for the major “League”. –AFS

Find me on Twitter at @AdamFSoybel and let me know what you think of the song! (Pre-order: Standard album) (Pre-Order: Deluxe album)

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