Last year I reviewed Plaskett‘s odds-n-ends collection Emergencys and said you’d like him if you were ever moved by Paul McCartney, Paul Westerberg, or Tom Petty. Scrappy Happiness (released as one single per week this past winter) casts that net wider in all directions, into Lou Reed, Jackson Browne, and Jon Snodgrass waters. I knew as this album was coming out in January/February that it would stay in the top-10 all year.

Lightning Bolt,” the Street Hassleesque album-opener is the song of the year so far and it features this, my favorite verse:

“Travel through space and time,
I’d like a vodka lime–
A twist of the sublime,
One small immortal coil.”

It kicks off an album of brilliant songwriting and guitar playing. Scrappy Happiness is forty minutes of serious fun. The lyrical twists, the assembly of unique guitar solos and hooks–they all speak to Plaskett’s high standards for himself and his ridiculous chops. The man found a rhyme with “oranges” and “gorgeous.” He never lets himself repeat, and if he sees he’s turning a familiar corner, he’ll just flip the car instead. He’s thirty-seven years old, he’s a textbook. Many writers run out of surprises after a few years. Not only is Plaskett still as fresh as his 20-year-old punk rocking self, but he’s made his most infectious and Essential Listeningicious album yet.

Joel Plaskett – Lightning Bolt
Joel Plaskett – Old Friends
Joel Plaskett – Tough Love

Buy it from Plaskett’s own New Scotland Records and on iTunes and Amazon. Check out the making-of videos for each song on Plaskett’s website. He also had a fan-made music video contest. And there’s his Facebook.

Author: Mike Ostrov

Mike Ostrov relays the history of popular song on message boards and under rocks.


  1. Could not agree more. Essential listening in my opinion and has been a resident CD in my car since I bought Scrappy Happiness as soon as it was released. This and the new Black Keys CD are my top 2 releases of 2012.

Comments are closed.