Albert Hammond Jr. started off his private set at Mercury Lounge last night in an appropriately intimate fashion: Standing on one of the benches along the wall, he played “Blue Skies” (his Lennon-esque ballad from 2006's Yours to Keep) on acoustic guitar, vocalizing the solo at song's end like some sort of Frampton-inspired busker. Moments later his band joined him onstage, and the friends-and-family audience got a taste of his new solo disc, ¿Cómo Te Llama?, which finds the principal sonic force behind the Strokes expanding his retro repertoire. A shout-out to his mom notwithstanding, Hammond mostly kept quiet, and let the new flourishes — dirty blues riffs, dark, funky grooves — speak for themselves. The crowd reacted warmly, of course, even moshing a bit during “Postal Blowfish,” which might have accounted Hammond’s bashful — and rapid — exit from the stage at night’s end. —Mike Ayers
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