by Bill Pearis

Johnny Mar

Among the many acts announced for Coachella 2013 was indie guitar royalty Johnny Marr, and his appearances on the two Fridays (April 12 and 19) of the fest are his first-announced solo shows in North America -- but a proper tour has been promised.

After the Smiths broke up in 1987, Marr became a guitar-for-hire, playing with Talking Heads, The Pretenders, The The, Electronic, Modest Mouse and The Cribs. He also briefly formed The Healers ten years ago who made one record and toured (anybody go see them at Bowery Ballroom?) but The Messenger, due out February 26, is his first solo album. While he moved to Portland, OR a while back, he relocated his family back to Manchester to make the album. He told MOJO:

I had to come back to Europe to make this record. It was like wehn I moved THe Smiths from London back to Manchester to write Meat is Murder and The Queen is Dead -- I knew the vibe there. I needed to get rained on, I needed to be around people playing The Velvet Underground in the next room, sitting in cars with the windscreen wipers going, all that lovely stuff.

For those longing to hear him pull out those Smiths-style riffs, The Messenger is rife with them and generally steeped in his post-punk upbringing. ("European Me" is especially Smithy.) As a lyricist and singer, Marr does a pretty good job, though I caught myself thinking a few times, "What would Morrissey have done with this tune?"

Videos for "The Messenger" and "Upstarts," plus a stream of album-opener "The Right Thing Right," are below...


Johnny Marr - "Upstarts"

Johnny Marr - "The Messenger"

Johnny Marr - "The Right Thing Right"