Career Arc: The Strokes
April 15, 2013 2:43 PM   Subscribe

From Is This It to is this it? "The Strokes presently occupy a dubious place in pop culture: They're a legacy band generally considered to be important in contemporary rock history, but whose moment in time is otherwise perceived to have long since passed."
posted by paleyellowwithorange (135 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
You can say that about all of the the bands from the early '00s. Except for the Hives, who are immortal through sheer awesome.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:50 PM on April 15, 2013 [17 favorites]


The Strokes do "occupy a dubious place in pop culture". Not sure what to make of the new album yet, things/bands evolve. Nice Post.
posted by ktrain at 2:53 PM on April 15, 2013


The secret of long-term musical success seems to be to avoid becoming too successful at any one point in time.
posted by pipeski at 2:54 PM on April 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


I've listened through the new album a few times and I sort of dig it so far. I find their lack of enthusiasm contagious.
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:55 PM on April 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Writing about music in the Detroit area when "Is This It" came out, I was one of those people who just did not get the hype at all. It sounded like dated bullshit next to all the other great rock at the time, from White Stripes to Dirtbombs to hell, even the Von Bondies. I've come back to them a little — some of ITI and Room on Fire are fun for mix tapes — but I'm kinda feeling vindicated that they're getting about the exact level of attention they deserve: benign indifference.
posted by klangklangston at 3:03 PM on April 15, 2013 [16 favorites]


The secret of long-term musical success seems to be to avoid becoming too successful at any one point in time.

Anyone got the Albarn quote where he says something similar to this about the Strokes not that long after Is This It came out? He praised the melody writing and said he was concerned for their long term future, I think. And anyone who wonders why the Strokes got all that hype, it's because they had melodies that Damon Albarn praised. If that fucker knows anything, it's catchy tunes.
posted by howfar at 3:11 PM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


The secret of long-term musical success seems to be to avoid becoming too successful at any one point in time.

Sort of like ejaculation.
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:23 PM on April 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Sort of like ejaculation.

I don't understand this at all, but I love it.
posted by howfar at 3:24 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't understand this at all, but I love it.

I may have inadvertently punned on The Strokes. My apologies. Jokes can be hard.


...d'oh!
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:26 PM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Strokes are one of those bands like Weezer that got too much attention for their first album then put out later albums that were better but less noticed.

Sort of like ejaculation.

Maybe. Maybe not.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:27 PM on April 15, 2013


More on topic, I was a huge fan of Is This It, defending it against the slings and arrows people would throw at it. Great album with some killer songs that wore their influences on their sleeve.

Plus I'll always love them for their TRON-influenced video for "12:51".
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:29 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I loved the first album but knew from the opening chords of the second album that this would be the story with them. They have exactly one way of playing music and never showed much interest in expanding it. Straight eights on the rhythm guitar, dum dum tish drums, obsession with doing nothing that could possibly be perceived as uncool. No wonder they got left behind.
posted by unSane at 3:31 PM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I first heard about the Strokes -- A RAVE!!!! -- from a friend who'd just seen them live in London. A few weeks later, I heard my first Strokes song. It was Modern Age, and I dug it, like the Velvet Underground updated, without being a clone.

And that's it, basically. The album was a disappointment compared to the single, and nothing since has matched it for me either.

There are so many other bands since then that we should be more excited about. Dungen for instance.
posted by philip-random at 3:34 PM on April 15, 2013


I'll always love them for their TRON-influenced video for "12:51"

Cool! I've never seen that!

On the topic of TRON-influenced music videos: Regurgitator, 'Everyday Formula'.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 3:34 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


They look really bored and unhappy in that video.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:35 PM on April 15, 2013


They are less a band than a lifestyle accessory.
As such, Is This It and Room on Fire both have their fine moments, but The Strokes owe their entire career to very fortunately surfacing during the single worst period in popular music in the last few decades.
Just like other wholly unremarkable acts like Death Cab and The Shins. They would have been minorly-successful also-rans in any era that wasnt as musically stunted as 99-02 was. It had gotten to the point where you were pointing out the punch in the turdbowl.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 3:36 PM on April 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


like the Velvet Underground updated, without being a clone.

A rarity, indeed.



Back to the Strokes - there's just so many times you can listen to the "Wah, wah, wah'ing", of a rich kid, who had his doors open, for him. After a while, you gotta get back to the real meat and potatoes.
posted by alex_skazat at 3:37 PM on April 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


unSane: obsession with doing nothing that could possibly be perceived as uncool

The Card Cheat: They look really bored and unhappy in that video.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 3:37 PM on April 15, 2013


I saw them accidentally at the Galaxy Hut right before their first album came out. Probably the only person there that didn't know they were about to become big. I bought their CD because I was like, awww, they seem like nice kids.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:41 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Gordon Raphael is a very talented musician also...
http://www.myspace.com/gordonraphaelmusic
posted by ktrain at 3:43 PM on April 15, 2013


From the NME (regarding the NME) in 2002?

“Shall I tell you the problem with NME? The Strokes. Very good example. Really good band, nice melodies – they’ve got everything required at that age to make good music. But you know, they’re not the only good band in the world, and as soon as they make a mistake, you bury them. And they will make a mistake. We all make mistakes. We’re humans. But as long as you’re striving – we should all be striving towards excellence.”

Is This It? and Room on Fire were brilliant. Julian's solo album Phrazes for the Young is awesome.

But the latest Strokes album and the last one? Yawn.

Oh Damon. So grumpy.
posted by elsietheeel at 3:44 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Eh. Its all coming back to me now. That dark age. Late 2001. All the press trying to make this thing "The New Nevermind" by sheer force of ink spillage.
Anyone that every makes the (provably wrong) claim that Nevermind "was all media hype, man" should be forced to read all The Strokes' clippings from October 2001. You really cant force it. And they tried. And it sold like a million copies. In 2001, lots of records were still selling that well. Hardly an epochal watershed event album.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 3:45 PM on April 15, 2013


The most popular explanations for the decline of The Strokes seem to be: a) they were overrated to begin with; b) their limited sound could only carry them so far; c) it was inevitable that entitled little douchebags would eat their own tails.

I'm going to disagree and say that they were great and that they fell apart, because they did try to change. ITI and RoF are both fantastic records. They don't reinvent the wheel, but they sure spin the hell out of a fine old one. If they'd have embraced a sort of Ramones/AC-DC-like never-changing aesthetic, they'd have been just fine.

The problem was that Casablancas started to lose interest in the band, just as some of the other members were letting their success tell them they should play larger roles.

I'd trade the sorry, democratic "trying to expand their sound" Strokes for another record just like Is This It? or Room on Fire in a hot minute.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:47 PM on April 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


At the time, I knew a guy who worked for an MCA distributor. He said that the label's wildest hopes for Nevermind were that it sell as much as the last Sonic Youth record.
posted by thelonius at 3:47 PM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Are there any budding music historians who can explain how the garage rock revival/post-punk extravaganza/'time when "indie" music became mainstream' of the early to mid-00's came to fade away?

I swear, it's like the only super-hyped critical darling auteur of that era to remain dominant to this day wasn't even a rock star- he was Kanye West.
posted by Apocryphon at 3:47 PM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sidebar/prediction: in twenty years, there will be a band from that garage rock wave whose songwriting will be heralded as timeless and enduring. And even though I like 'em, it won't be The Strokes.

It will be Greg Cartwright's band Reigning Sound. They are everything awesome coming from the jukebox in a scuzzy bar circa 1968, rolled into one.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:52 PM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I swear, it's like the only super-hyped critical darling auteur of that era to remain dominant to this day wasn't even a rock star- he was Kanye West.

I think everyone that's been waiting for the new Nirvana or whatever keeps missing it because it's been happening in rap and electronic music.
posted by drezdn at 3:53 PM on April 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


Are there any budding music historians who can explain how the garage rock revival/post-punk extravaganza/'time when "indie" music became mainstream' of the early to mid-00's came to fade away?

You somehow missed the 98 degrees, and the N'Sync and the Backstreet Boys and whatever cookie cutter, pre-packaged up bullshit that was being shoved into everyone's faces? You missed out on such bands as Smashmouth, Better than Ezra, Matchbox 20 and all that bullshit?
posted by alex_skazat at 3:55 PM on April 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


They're a legacy band generally considered to be important in contemporary rock history, but whose moment in time is otherwise perceived to have long since passed

The same can be said of any of the biggest-selling acts today though. I read something recently about how the Stones have existed for 50 years and the last good new thing they did was Tattoo You in 1982. They exist to flog the legacy of their amazing years.

The Strokes aren't a good comparison for the Stones because the Strokes, while fun, were derivative and consciously retro the day they came out. But it's a pretty well-documented phenomenon by now that financial and cultural success trails artistic peaks.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:59 PM on April 15, 2013


No, I understand how the garage rock revival and the rise of "indie music"* came to be- it was backlash against bubblegum pop and nü-metal. What I'm asking is how it came to end. (and who should be thought of as the leading acts who replaced them.) Where are the Yeah Yeah Yeahs? Who shot Franz Ferdinand? What hole has Modest Mouse snuck into? Where are the Snow Patrols of yesterday?

Why is Bloc Party so mediocre now?

*That is, acts that weren't necessarily on indie labels, but decidedly was different from the aforementioned corporate pablum of the late '90s, and so had an indie sound/feel/image. It's a pretty nebulous designation that covers everything from the Strokes to Arcade Fire. I feel like it was more of a time that included multiple styles/movements (garage rock revival being one of them) than a specific one.
posted by Apocryphon at 4:00 PM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I read something recently about how the Stones have existed for 50 years and the last good new thing they did was Tattoo You in 1982.

Some Girls in 1977 ... actually.
posted by philip-random at 4:01 PM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Where are the Yeah Yeah Yeahs now? Who shot Franz Ferdinand? What hole has Modest Mouse snuck into? Where are the Snow Patrols of yesterday?

Why is Bloc Party so mediocre now?


They're still around and making music. I don't automatically love any of it anymore and my theory is that, having made a lot of money, their problems aren't compelling and it's not as easy to make magic anymore. I honestly don't know if this is one of those "cliche opinions", it's just been my observation. So no one come after me please.

I'm glad to know my opinion about the Strokes was correct at the time. I had a hard time finding anyone who shared my opinion. Oh my god, I was disliking the Strokes before it was cool, what have I become.

NOT HAMBURGER.
posted by bleep at 4:05 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, it was Tattoo You. Actually.
posted by thelonius at 4:05 PM on April 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


I still think Albert Hammond, Jr. is an improvement over Albert Hammond, Sr, and how often does that happen (cf. Lisa Marie Presley, Julian Lennon, Jakob Dylan, Wilson Phillips, Whitney Houston, etc.)?
posted by ogooglebar at 4:07 PM on April 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Freshman year at NYU film school I was in small-section classes with Albert Hammond, Jr. I didn't recognize his name (nor did seemingly most of the classmates) and so he was just a kind of quiet, kind of awkward kid. At one point a pair of our more exclusionary proto-hipster classmates came to class wearing what were essentially cafe-press shirts for the band (though cafe press didn't exist at the time) trying to get us all to go out to their show.

Because, at the time, I was vindictive of the success of anyone, particularly a male who I knew personally, and didn't particularly like his cheerleaders, I steadfastly refused.

I vacillate on whether I regret that or not.

They owe their success to their time period, to be sure, but mostly due to connections that they had that other bands of the time couldn't have dreamed of. Oh, and due to the fact that their tunes were actually good.

It took a surprising amount of effort for me to say that.

Look, "Last Night" is a straight-up rip-off of "American Girl," but most of their other stuff isn't that blatant, they were fun, and they were very needed at the time. I've liked the Julian Casablancas solo stuff that I've heard. I'm sorry that they've lost relevance, but they had a solid run and good for them.

Don't know what the point of all of that was, but there it is.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:07 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


The problem with the new album is that it doesn't rock, and its boring. I liked the garage rock revival and I loved Is This It but The Strokes have followed the modern trend of making rock into easy listening background music. There are other bands who do what they used to do better, like Japandroids, Nude Beach, Pissed Jeans and Royal Headache. But even they show signs of the blandifying disease where 'rock' bands like Cloud Nothings are too embarrassed to cut loose and rock!

I miss early White Stripes and the spirit of garage bands.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:07 PM on April 15, 2013


I read something recently about how the Stones have existed for 50 years and the last good new thing they did was Tattoo You in 1982.

Tattoo You was 1981, because I nitpick these things and so should you.
posted by item at 4:08 PM on April 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I miss Interpol.
posted by Apocryphon at 4:08 PM on April 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


E.T. the Extraterrestrial was 1982, though. Maybe you meant that?
posted by item at 4:09 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I loved the first album but knew from the opening chords of the second album that this would be the story with them. They have exactly one way of playing music and never showed much interest in expanding it. Straight eights on the rhythm guitar, dum dum tish drums, obsession with doing nothing that could possibly be perceived as uncool. No wonder they got left behind.

I disagree. I think the problem is they've strayed too far from rock's fundamentals.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:09 PM on April 15, 2013


But the vast majority of Tattoo You's songs were outakes from previous 70's studio sessions... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tattoo_You
posted by Ike_Arumba at 4:09 PM on April 15, 2013


I read something recently about how the Stones have existed for 50 years and the last good new thing they did was Tattoo You in 1982.

Clearly written by someone who has never heard "One Hit (to the Body)" from 1986.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:10 PM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I totally agree with you, ogooglebar. Albert Hammond Jr > Albert Hammond Sr.
"Yours To Keep" is an absolute gem of a record. Highly recommended.
posted by Ike_Arumba at 4:11 PM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


It could've been worse. The Strokes could've been *shudder* folk-punk.
posted by item at 4:11 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


It sounded like dated bullshit next to all the other great rock at the time, from White Stripes to Dirtbombs to hell, even the Von Bondies.

Weird, you just described the track list of the mix-CD this Dutch kid I had an internet fling with made for me in 2001 (plus Les Savy Fav. But he assured me even then that the Strokes were lame).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:13 PM on April 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Some of you may not have heard one of my favorite cover bands/albums, The Diff'rent Strokes, who put out an EP called "This Isn't It" with easy-listening cover versions of Strokes songs. Here, for example, are Last Night and Hard to Explain. I adore these.
posted by Celsius1414 at 4:14 PM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


They're a legacy band generally considered to be important in contemporary rock history

Is this actually true, though? What musical era did they usher in? Will the kids of the future care about Is This It except as just another artifact of another time? Do the people who listened to the Strokes in 2001 even care now?

Modest Mouse has arguably had more success (and certainly a longer, more storied career), but I don't think anyone will call them "important in contemporary rock history," whatever that means. Actually, the band from that era I would most consider giving that title to is the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who at least managed to put out another decent, popular album later in the decade. The Strokes? They made some fun songs. Ain't nothing wrong with that. But let's not set up the straw man just to knock it down—who, exactly, would consider them to be a big milestone in rock music?
posted by chrominance at 4:14 PM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


You can say that about all of the the bands from the early '00s. Except for the Hives, who are immortal through sheer awesome.

I'm proud to say I read this comment while wearing a Nulla Salus Sine The Hives tshirt.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:19 PM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Agreed, Tattoo You. Actually.

Where are the Yeah Yeah Yeahs now? Who shot Franz Ferdinand? What hole has Modest Mouse snuck into? Where are the Snow Patrols of yesterday?

Listen to Radio Paradise where you'll find a great mix of rock, jazz, blues, folk and yes, the cool bands that you rarely hear on commercial radio from yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Two, maybe three weeks ago something was playing and I said to my friend, "hey this sounds alright!" He looked at me and said, "Yeah, The Strokes were pretty awesome back in the day." "Oh," says I. "I didn't listen to them back then. I had no idea." So now I get to enjoy The Strokes all on my lonesome, like a guilty pleasure.
posted by ashbury at 4:19 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Just like other wholly unremarkable acts like Death Cab and The Shins. They would have been minorly-successful also-rans in any era that wasnt as musically stunted as 99-02 was. It had gotten to the point where you were pointing out the punch in the turdbowl."

The Shins had at least one perfect pop song.

And something that frustrated the shit out of me was that people got so up their own ass over this "there's no good music" bullshit that they missed a whole bunch of fun, great stuff.

Just a brief list of what I was listening to:

Bantam Rooster
Basement Jax
Black Star
Black Tambourine
Bonnie "Prince" Billie
Flaming Lips
Flashing Lights
Make Up
Magnetic Fields
Misfires
Mobb Deep
Oneida
Pavement
White Stripes
25 Suaves
Cherry Valence
The Come Ons
Ghostface Killah
Jeans Team
Orange Goblin
Otis Taylor
Thee Michelle Gun Elephant
Tiga
Aaliyah
Acid Mothers Temple
A-Frames
Adult
Andrew WK
Destroyer
Jay-Z
The Lucksmiths
McLusky
The Quails
Radio Birdman
The Rants
Saturday Looks Good To Me
Stylex
Wolf Eyes
Asa Chang
Black Dice
Cee-Lo
Cobra Killer
Commando 9mm
Cylob
Dabenport
El Guapo
The Henchmen
Icarus Line
Jucifer
The Paybacks
The Polysics
Rogers Sisters
Theoretical Girls
The Waxwings
Weird War

All of those bands put out at least one good record during that time, and that's just from skimming my year-end mixes (and ignoring the jazz). There was a shit-ton of great music out there, and grumping because of Death Cab is fun, but pretty limited.

"Where are the Yeah Yeah Yeahs now? Who shot Franz Ferdinand? What hole has Modest Mouse snuck into? Where are the Snow Patrols of yesterday?"

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs were never great, but have put out a couple of fun albums. They're better remixed. Modest Mouse was never garage rock, and had a decent career by the time they broke. They're playing Coachella. Snow Patrol always sucked.

"Weird, you just described the track list of the mix-CD this Dutch kid I had an internet fling with made for me in 2001 (plus Les Savy Fav. But he assured me even then that the Strokes were lame)."

Heh. I put them on more than one mix for girls I had crushes on at the time, but I'm not Dutch and have never claimed to be.
posted by klangklangston at 4:21 PM on April 15, 2013 [16 favorites]


I think this is true of a lot of people my age but that The Strokes hit it big just as all the chaos and life-changing stuff of going to college and being 20 and moving around so it's impossible to separate out that neo-garage-rock sound from like, violent flashbacks to throwing up into a garbage can on w 8th Street.

And that whole sound burned SO BIG and SO BRIGHT and then VANISHED and isn't even in the same room with modern radio hits helps to add to that time capsule "this is what the early 00s sounded like and this is where it will staaaaay." feeling.
posted by The Whelk at 4:23 PM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


The garage rock revival and mainstream indie wiped out the '90s commercialization. The rise of hip-hop as a true force was the next big thing, as modern rock faded in importance. Currently, EDM is ascendant, infecting radio hip-hop and R&B songs with electronic influences. This is a huge oversimplification of popular musical movements in the U.S., but that's how I see it.
posted by Apocryphon at 4:26 PM on April 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Also September 11. The Strokes were so huge after 9/11 and I think their music formed a sort of collective catharsis. It did for me and my friends at least. I have very distinct memories of visiting New York that fall and Is This It was everywhere.

It was the beginning of Indie, the beginning of the modern hipster. The Strokes were one of the first bands that a certain significant mass of similarly-minded people agreed on. And it was good.
posted by wemayfreeze at 4:27 PM on April 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think this is true of a lot of people my age but that The Strokes hit it big just as all the chaos and life-changing stuff of going to college and being 20 and moving around so it's impossible to separate out that neo-garage-rock sound from like, violent flashbacks to throwing up into a garbage can on w 8th Street.

Yeah, and in a lot of ways I think the nostalgic-tinge of their music is perfect for that. Not that I've ever really been able to decide if I like them or not. I'm not really sure, now, either way.

Jucifer

Jucifer! They were so wonderfully loud.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:28 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like the Strokes. Even if they are just an up-tempo version of this one thing right here.

That said, I have no interest in them post-2005 or so, just like I have no interest in, say, Green Day post-1996.

When your immensely popular band boils down to one very particular sound, like both those bands did in their prime, then either or both of two things are bound to happen: 1. Everyone will eventually get sick of that sound; 2. Your sound will change, and you will cease to be that band everyone loved.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:29 PM on April 15, 2013


who, exactly, would consider them to be a big milestone in rock music?

It wasn't a milestone in rock history, but it was a milestone in my personal history: and that is that hearing the Strokes and being left totally cold was the catalyst for my first explicit "eh, kids today" moment. (Which of course was followed immediately by the first explicit realization that I was now in a different cultural/social demographic than the one The Whelk describes of that moment, and all the existential dread that that suddenly conjured up. Oh mortality, you sneak up on us all, even those of us who were out of our skulls dancing to the Stone Roses all night in college and believing our youth would never end!)
posted by scody at 4:30 PM on April 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


It was the beginning of Indie, the beginning of the modern hipster.

That is silly.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:30 PM on April 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


The Strokes are the kind of band that I should like and I've tried to like them but they never really caught with me. I've had their first album for years and every time one of their songs comes up on shuffle, I think, "who is that?", I look at my phone and see that it's them and then I forget about them again until they come up on shuffle.
posted by octothorpe at 4:31 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


It was the beginning of Indie

I would argue it was the beginning of the deathspiral of Indie as crossed the event horizon and it got sucked into the co-opting maw of mainstream culture, to be chewed up and homogenized into non-compelling pap.
Or the beginning of me getting old and cranky about these damn kids and their blasé geetar rock.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 4:33 PM on April 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


Like I said, the musical movement (or rather, the moment) that the garage rock revival took place in during the early '00s wasn't indie per se, but compared to the popular music that came before, it definitely had a much more indie sensibility. Call it mainstream indie or popular indie or indie for the masses. Or New Wave revival, whatever that means.

I would argue it was the beginning of the deathspiral of Indie as crossed the event horizon

I don't suppose you're a fan of Vampire Weekend or the Black Keys, are you?
posted by Apocryphon at 4:33 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


explain how the garage rock revival/post-punk extravaganza/'time when "indie" music became mainstream' of the early to mid-00's came to fade away?

Did it? Or is the current trendmakers tastes for garage rock revival/post-punk dreamyness actually a garage rock revival revival slash post-punk inception?
posted by mediocre at 4:36 PM on April 15, 2013


The thing that, to me, made The Strokes fantastic for just a few years there was the contrast between the rhythm and the vocals. The drummer would lay down positively insistent beats, then the bass player and both guitarists would lay down contrasting/complementary lines of their own (seriously: it was like everybody was playing rhythm) and then over that, Casablancas sang like he could not give a fuck. The net effect was like it was putting the lie to youthful diffidence and hinting at the burning mess right under the surface. I loved it. Pity they lost the thread.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:40 PM on April 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


I always regarded the Strokes as being a pretty shruggable band, musically speaking. But their record collections must be incredible.
posted by Strange Interlude at 4:43 PM on April 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


When Is This It came out, I did not own a computer. I was 20 years old and living in a home converted camper van and dragging a Royal Quiet Delux typewriter with me to anarchist gatherings because the only time you can get away with that and have it be anything other then pathetic is between the ages of 18 and 23. I heard a track somewhere, really really dug it. Bought the album, dug the fuck out of it. I rigged a CD player to work in my vans 8 track deck (8 Track Deck -> 8 Track to Cassette Adaptor -> Cassette to CD player Adaptor) specifically because I wanted to be able to listen to that album. Never knew it was trendy or hipster or anything like that until I visited my friends in Portland who laughed at me for liking The Strokes.

But these same friends are the same fairweather Journey fans who I couldn't get to come to a Journey concert with me when I had an extra ticket then years later insisted they would have jumped at the chance because they "always loved Journey."
posted by mediocre at 4:43 PM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Strokes did indeed make some fun songs. And I do see them, personally, as embedded in that weird time after 9/11 and the hysterical overreaction it provoked; their sound was like a reflection of something real, but self-consciously only a reflection, and that somehow made a lot of sense in an historical moment which felt like a lazy, rejected b-plot version of reality that just kept going. I remember hearing "Last Night" in 2002 and thinking that its sound was like the facade of a building without structural components, and that it was right at home in the glib, cynical vacuity of the Bush era.
posted by clockzero at 4:49 PM on April 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Adding to the derail; I'd say Tattoo You is better than Some Girls (which has some great tracks but is really uneven).
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:51 PM on April 15, 2013


> It was the beginning of Indie, the beginning of the modern hipster.

Nah. All this generational-epochal division is unhelpful, anyway.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:54 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


It was the beginning of Indie, the beginning of the modern hipster
The video for Bohemian Like You by the Dandy Warhols, in gently mocking the then hip urban fashions and mores was the first time I saw that distinct "hip young urbanite" look, although its existed in various forms from way back to the late 80s.

The Strokes sound like 2002, there's a live version of In Her Prime that will always and forever be about walking up the stairs to my dorm room cause the elevator was too damn slow.
posted by The Whelk at 4:55 PM on April 15, 2013


I attend a weekly pub trivia event held at a local watering hole. Last week, the host ran a "music round" in which songs are played in sequence and you have to identify the artist. My group guessed the first few easily enough, and then an unfamiliar song came on. With its oversampled, crunchy guitars, which sounded vaguely as though they had been distorted with an amp and then un-distorted in editing, nasally incoherent and repetitive vocals, and a start-stop bass line, it sounded like a poor imitation of The Strokes. Turns out, it was The Strokes, apparently from their most recent album. The Strokes literally sound like a poor imitation of themselves.
posted by deathpanels at 4:58 PM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I loved the first album but knew from the opening chords of the second album that this would be the story with them. They have exactly one way of playing music and never showed much interest in expanding it. Straight eights on the rhythm guitar, dum dum tish drums, obsession with doing nothing that could possibly be perceived as uncool.

I know great bands are supposed to make major changes in their sound to avoid being stuck in a particular genre period (see Radiohead), but most of the time I would rather bands just stick to the type of music that works for them. If you like the particular type of song that The Strokes play, then both of their first two albums are completely filled with exactly that type of song. If you like other types of songs, there are other bands. I'm more often frustrated by bands or artists who have one great song or album and never replicate it, rather than bands that put out dozens of variations on the same basic formula.
posted by burnmp3s at 5:00 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


The problem was the formula was so basic it got tiring. If you're going to exploit a niche, or a groove, you have to dig deep into it. They never did. The deepest they got was the first record, and after that it was repetition. Most bands have 2 or 3 albums before they start stealing from themselves, but the Strokes only had 1.
posted by unSane at 5:03 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


"It was the beginning of Indie, the beginning of the modern hipster. The Strokes were one of the first bands that a certain significant mass of similarly-minded people agreed on. And it was good."

lol wut

It musta been like the time in '99 that I invented sexual intercourse, and now everybody's doin' it.

"Jucifer! They were so wonderfully loud."

I covered a Jucifer show at Ypsilanti's Elbow Room where their giant, rattling sound collapsed a coal chute that no one knew existed until it sent black, choking, decades-old coal dust blasting out of all of the vents, turning the whole venue into one big black cloud.
posted by klangklangston at 5:03 PM on April 15, 2013 [14 favorites]


I wish The Strokes had just been content to pull a Ramones, and had just released a stylistically identical record every 9 to 18 months until they died.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:07 PM on April 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


Back around 2002, a drum teacher I know rented a rehearsal space in the same building as The Strokes. For a while, he didn't know who they were, only that they were absolutely relentless - they would spend three or four hours at a stretch practicing a single song, working through all the changes, and spent more time at the rehearsal studio than any band he'd ever worked with. My friend learned their identity when one of his students recognized a couple band members, and though he never got into their music he has tremendous respect for The Strokes as working musicians.
posted by Mendl at 5:34 PM on April 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Straight eights on the rhythm guitar

i'm pretty much sick of that particular style - i was pretty much sick of it 20 years ago

(and don't dare say something about the ramones - listen closely - they swung them a little and that makes all the difference)
posted by pyramid termite at 5:53 PM on April 15, 2013


When I say the beginning of Indie I don't mean the beginning of the concept or the beginning of independent music — apologies. I'm talking about the broadening of the popularity of independent music in the States to a much much larger audience. In 1998 nobody was talking about independent music (except everybody in this thread, yes) — in the early 2000s everything started changing. The internet had a huge part in this, of course, both in disseminating music itself and knowledge of bands and scenes.

It's not that it wasn't happening and then it was. It's that millions more people got tuned in. And the Strokes were — by dumb luck — one of the bands there at the beginning.
posted by wemayfreeze at 5:54 PM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm talking about the broadening of the popularity of independent music in the States to a much much larger audience.

That would probably be R.E.M, "Green", or even "Document No. 7" (or whatever the hell that record was called).
posted by thelonius at 5:59 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Except for the Hives, who are immortal through sheer awesome.

Thank god for The Hives!
posted by Edgewise at 6:03 PM on April 15, 2013


my first explicit "eh, kids today" moment

At least you were hip enough to have heard of them in the first place. I've read this whole thread hoping I'd recognize one of the references and thereby manage to link this band into my own memories of that era, but nope - it's a total blank. Even looked up what was apparently the big hit off their first album ("Hard to Explain") and I can't say I've ever heard it before.

I think my favorite band of 2001 was probably Helium Vola
posted by Mars Saxman at 6:06 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


In 1998 nobody was talking about independent music (except everybody in this thread, yes) — in the early 2000s everything started changing.
By the late 1980s, the major labels had identified an opportunity to break new acts via the indie chart, and began setting up subsidiary labels that were financed by the majors but distributed via the independent network, thereby being eligible for the chart. With the major labels effectively pushing the genuine indie labels out of the market, the independent chart became less significant in the early 1990s, with 'alternative' increasingly being used to describe artists, and 'indie' often used to describe a broad range of guitar-based rock and pop. The Offspring's 1994 album Smash is the highest selling independent record of all time. The album was certified six times platinum in the U.S and sold more than 12 million copies worldwide.
posted by scody at 6:07 PM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I miss Interpol.

for Science's sake, why? Everything people are now saying about the Strokes has always been even more true of Interpol. This is a band whose singer mostly sang just one note for entire songs. The lyrics were basically absurdist enough to be impenetrable and emotionless, but not enough to be funny. The hooks were all just repeated strings of the same note, the drumming was only ever bland and uninspired.

I guess I just really hate Interpol, so uh... yeah.
posted by shmegegge at 6:08 PM on April 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


They were important and definitive is usually more accurate than They are important and definitive.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 6:35 PM on April 15, 2013


Can someone build me an app that will tell me (preferably with push notifications):
1. When the things I thought were cool are passe.
2. What the people who liked the things I thought were cool are into now.

Thank you,
Aging Person

Not that I thought The Strokes were still cool, but I didn't realize they were now uncool (regarding requirement 1, I really just didn't do the math, which I have now done.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 6:40 PM on April 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


In 1998 nobody was talking about independent music

I don't even know where to begin unpacking the utter wrongness of this.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:43 PM on April 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


This just in: phony Beatlemania alive, making strong recovery
posted by thelonius at 6:49 PM on April 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


I've always found it interesting how much the American music press has had knives out for the Strokes from the very beginning. When their first collection of awesome songs came out, every music critic was grumbling that they were rich kids with no original ideas. When their second collection of great songs with neat production came out, the American press mumbled about Blondie ripoffs. For my money, The Strokes were an infinitely better band than The White Stripes (partly because they had funnier lyrics), but music writers in the U.S. were determined to bury them.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:53 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was sick a couple weeks ago & watched Nardwuar the human serviette interview julian & nick at some randomn Vancouver bar.... Such righteous rockers they were then.
posted by RollingGreens at 7:01 PM on April 15, 2013


generally considered to be important in contemporary rock history

by who, exactly?
posted by jonmc at 7:03 PM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've always found it interesting how much the American music press has had knives out for the Strokes from the very beginning. When their first collection of awesome songs came out, every music critic was grumbling that they were rich kids with no original ideas. When their second collection of great songs with neat production came out, the American press mumbled about Blondie ripoffs. For my money, The Strokes were an infinitely better band than The White Stripes (partly because they had funnier lyrics), but music writers in the U.S. were determined to bury them.

Are you from the UK? Then you actually want your rock to have 'funny' lyrics and dancable beats and generally be diluted by irony and distance. That doesn't play in the US.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 7:25 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know great bands are supposed to make major changes in their sound to avoid being stuck in a particular genre period (see Radiohead), but most of the time I would rather bands just stick to the type of music that works for them. If you like the particular type of song that The Strokes play, then both of their first two albums are completely filled with exactly that type of song. If you like other types of songs, there are other bands. I'm more often frustrated by bands or artists who have one great song or album and never replicate it, rather than bands that put out dozens of variations on the same basic formula.

I agree with this 100%, and I don't really like rock bands that try and improve on the Ramones/Replacements/whatever format. I remember when indie garage was big and I thought things were good, and then it all collapsed into dance and irony. Thanks, Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party. But its coming back, and it still exists in the underground. Hell there are enough garage bands locally to put out a new Aussie Nuggets.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 7:28 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


> Are you from the UK? Then you actually want your rock to have 'funny' lyrics and dancable beats and generally be diluted by irony and distance. That doesn't play in the US.

Then what are you so constantly railing against if danceable beats and irony don't play in the US?
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:33 PM on April 15, 2013


for Science's sake, why? Everything people are now saying about the Strokes has always been even more true of Interpol. This is a band whose singer mostly sang just one note for entire songs. The lyrics were basically absurdist enough to be impenetrable and emotionless, but not enough to be funny. The hooks were all just repeated strings of the same note, the drumming was only ever bland and uninspired.

Speaking STRICTLY for myself, I like when rock music sounds like it is being played by damaged androids... not in a synth pop way (though I like that too) but when it sounds like a group of machines found a Gang of Four, Joy Division, and Cars records and did the best they could with their stiff mathematical joints to make the guitars do something similar.

Around 2001-2002 I was mostly listening to lots of death and sludge metal then all at once I really fell into Songs for the Deaf, Turn On The Bright Lights, Source Tags and Codes, and Is This It?, all of which have a slightly robotic edge or distance to them that I think was singular at the time and really roped me in. I still like all four albums a lot.
posted by SharkParty at 7:40 PM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Fuck. I just want to say that I favorited nearly every other comment in this thread, because the inner music nerd/hipster conneosiseur I wish I could be is made manifest in a single thread.

Also klangklangston's list kicked so much ass and I wished he was my personal DJ.
posted by kurosawa's pal at 7:40 PM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


No, it was Tattoo You. Actually.

I'm gonna go ahead and say that Steel Wheels wasn't half bad. It didn't seem particularly good or relevant at the time but it's held up and has a consistent feel to it that is classically Stones - unlike Tattoo You that had the disco thing going on (the Stones have tended to appropriate trends - worst of which was the brief foray into reggae ala Hey Negrita on Black and Blue) they just made a straightforward rock album. I still listen to it.
posted by jimmythefish at 7:43 PM on April 15, 2013


(not Hey Negrita...Cherry Oh Baby).
posted by jimmythefish at 7:55 PM on April 15, 2013


So people care about the lives of people in bands and how rich or not they were and what music writers write? As for career arcs, bands are lasting a lot longer now.

It doesn't feature dazzling displays of technical virtuosity, it didn't introduce any game-changing innovations, and while the album eventually went platinum it didn't change the culture in any significant way.


And? This can be said about so many bands, great or awful. I'd love to know what bands live up to this standard. This "not totally mind blowingly original or technical" bullshit is beyond tiresome.

The moment I heard the Strokes they went into my pantheon of bands as it were. Thought the garage band label was ridiculous but then so are many labels. The first, fourth, and fifth albums are one's I regularly listen to (the fifth one in particular of late since it's new), with sprinkles of the second and third.

Brilliant, great rock band. All the rest is irrelevant. For those that don't like them, I'd hope it was because of they feel the music is garbage and not because they're rich or wear awful running shoes or because they're too cool or uncool of a band or aren't avant-garde, or whatever. It would be the equivalent of Bowie sucks because he looks peculiar or he grew up in the suburbs.

I have to say I'm unfamiliar with the over riding trends in the music industry at any given time since the "industry" has been so diverse and varied for such a long time now.

They are not constantly doing the same songs (though they are pretty consistent in song structure) so Is This It 2,3,4,5 didn't happen and so they'll be cast out by casual music fans.

I am reminded of How Soon is Now and how some people bought Meat is Murder thinking the Smiths would have a consistent How Soon is Now sound. They didn't. It was the exception rather than the rule.

And as for being derivative, most bands are. Lots of talk about the Rolling Stones in here. I wonder if they ever made any bluesy songs...

Franz Ferdinand's new disc is coming out soon.
posted by juiceCake at 8:06 PM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm gonna go ahead and say that Steel Wheels wasn't half bad. It didn't seem particularly good or relevant at the time but it's held up and has a consistent feel to it that is classically Stones - unlike Tattoo You that had the disco thing going on (the Stones have tended to appropriate trends - worst of which was the brief foray into reggae ala Hey Negrita on Black and Blue) they just made a straightforward rock album. I still listen to it.
One of the most painful examples of rock bands trying to graft another style onto their music is Led Zeppelin's In Through the Out Door. I was one of those kids who suddenly realized that Zeppelin was the greatest thing ever at age thirteen, despite the fact they'd been broken up for decades by then, but I still can't get myself to earnestly listen to whatever this is supposed to be. You can hear the weird synthy stuff starting to take over the guitar riffs, but Jimmy Page doesn't know how to not play a prominent guitar so they're stepping on each other's toes all over the place, and the addition of that waltzy tempo gives it a sort of Bee Gees feel with a pinch of reggae thrown in somewhere. This comes two years after Saturday Night Fever, and punk rock acts coming into mainstream success were leading a revolt against stadium rockers. The thing is, I kind of enjoy this album, but it's impossible to listen to it and not hear the studio executive in a smoky jetliner in 1977 saying, "Listen, boys, this disco thing is gonna be huge."
posted by deathpanels at 8:18 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I swear, it's like the only super-hyped critical darling auteur of that era to remain dominant to this day wasn't even a rock star- he was Kanye West.

If Kanye isn't a rock star, then there's no such thing anymore.
posted by billyfleetwood at 8:21 PM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ah, c'mon guys, if you like the old records so much, just play them again. For bands who actually evolved see: Beatles, Wilco, Radiohead, Beach Boys, Jefferson Airplane, Velvet Underground, Elvis Costello, Iggy Pop, Bowie and about a trillion others. Bands are not your performing monkey and it's ridiculous to expect them to stick to a formula without becoming formulaic. And my God, were the Ramones ever formulaic.
posted by unSane at 8:24 PM on April 15, 2013


To be fair, unSane, most of us aren't arguing against bands evolving. We're arguing against The Strokes trying to evolve, because they didn't seem to have it in 'em. And anyway, their sound was basic/primal enough that it would have survived them trodding the same ground.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:29 PM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


"For my money, The Strokes were an infinitely better band than The White Stripes (partly because they had funnier lyrics), but music writers in the U.S. were determined to bury them."

Your money's no good then — The Strokes never wrote a song as good as The Big Three Killed My Baby, and that's not even the best song from the White Stripes.

Don't get me wrong, I think the White Stripes got wildly overhyped, and I still think the Strokes are OK, it's just that blaming music writers for being meh on a meh band that was doing absolutely nothing new — and ignoring the whirlwind of hype around them, which was written by other members of the U.S. music press — just comes across as you trying to turn your personal aesthetic preferences into some sort of narrative that's not actually supported by the evidence.

"Are you from the UK? Then you actually want your rock to have 'funny' lyrics and dancable beats and generally be diluted by irony and distance. That doesn't play in the US."

Dude, are you trotting this shit out again? You either don't know what irony means or don't know rock well enough to talk about it or both.

No irony here, nope. Funny lyrics? Fuck, man, relax.
posted by klangklangston at 8:30 PM on April 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Every once in a while, a cartoonish lack of variety is okay by me. Like Amon Amarth can keep putting out the exact same album every two years and I'll keep listening and we'll see who rusts first.
posted by SharkParty at 8:32 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Strokes never wrote a song as good as The Big Three Killed My Baby, and that's not even the best song from the White Stripes.

I think "Under Control" probably laps "The Big Three Killed My Baby" twice, pulls over for a cigarette break, chats up a hot girl in the cheap seats, then still has time to pull back onto the track and win by a dozen car lengths. But you know, that's personal taste.

Don't get me wrong. I liked The White Stripes, too. I just think you're selling The Strokes short.

Anyway, if you want to be cured of any remaining affection you might have for Jack White, I recommend It Might Get Loud. Worked for me.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:49 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ha, IMGL also cured me of any remaining affection I might have for the other two as well. That final dirge-like, incompetent rendition of The Weight, ye gods.
posted by unSane at 8:59 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dude, are you trotting this shit out again? You either don't know what irony means or don't know rock well enough to talk about it or both.

I was reading a book my an English music critic - I think it was Simon Reynolds - who made a joke of an American band assuming rock was a religion. British rock and roll is second hand, so there's always been more playfulness and pop and irony in it. I mean bands like the Stone Roses melded dance with rock there decades ago.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:06 PM on April 15, 2013


I remember when indie garage was big and I thought things were good, and then it all collapsed into dance and irony. Thanks, Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party.

Yeah, they really should have stuck to the dour seriousness of classic garage hits like "Surfin' Bird," "Wooly Bully," and "Louie Louie."

Which is to say: what
posted by Sys Rq at 9:19 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


The whole thing is summed up in the distinction between 'rock' and 'rock'n'roll'. Rock bands suck. Rock'n'Roll bands do not suck.
posted by unSane at 9:21 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


('Rock and roll' bands also suck. The 'n' is crucial)
posted by unSane at 9:22 PM on April 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


"I was reading a book my an English music critic - I think it was Simon Reynolds - who made a joke of an American band assuming rock was a religion. British rock and roll is second hand, so there's always been more playfulness and pop and irony in it. I mean bands like the Stone Roses melded dance with rock there decades ago."

Dude, rock and roll started as dance music and has had dance music as part of it all along. As well as silliness.

Post-modernism is where we live now, man. Rock can be more than one thing — and always has been.
posted by klangklangston at 9:24 PM on April 15, 2013


Ha, IMGL also cured me of any remaining affection I might have for the other two as well.

Strangely, IMGL actually revived a little bit of affection for Jimmy Page for me. I mean, that scene where he's in his own music room getting all fanboy giddy over Link Wray is pretty adorable. ROCK STARS: THEY'RE JUST LIKE US when they're not whipping 14-year-old groupies at the Riot House on Sunset
posted by scody at 9:32 PM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


As far as I know, I was the only person I knew that ever liked The Strokes.
As far as I know, I am the only person who still likes The Strokes.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 9:33 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


As someone who was unfortunate enough to be in college when Is This It was released, and even worse, someone who was unfortunate enough to be in LA, and hear it hyped on KROQ 24/7... this is sweet, sweet stuff to read.

Now if all is right with the world, I'll spend the next 3 years hearing how shitty the Strokes are every day, and how homogenous and dull and worthless their music is.
posted by Old Man McKay at 9:42 PM on April 15, 2013


I saw the Strokes and GBV about a month after 9/11 in New York. I was visiting a friend who was in graduate school. Stood in the freezing cold for two hours to visit the site of ground zero. Went uptown to the Apollo Theater (!) to see the show that night. Bought a ticket from a kid from Jersey who had an extra. He asked for the actual ticket price then literally said, "Hey, I should probably charge you more for that."

The Strokes were the opening act, if you can imagine that.

Fantastic show. And yeah, they are strangely and forever tied in with my memories of 9/11, along with Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
posted by bardic at 9:56 PM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


In 2001 it would have been impossible for me to have both Lateralus and Is This It in the same rotation. And after hearing Relationship of Command the year before, it's hard not to say "what is this crap?" when The Strokes came on the radio.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:27 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can I just please repeat: fuck yeah the HIVES!
posted by legospaceman at 10:44 PM on April 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Currently on the A.V. Club's front page for new reviews:

MUSIC
Yeah Yeah Yeahs B+
The venerable art-punks enter their second decade with playful spirit intact.

The Flaming Lips A-
Iron And Wine B+

Maybe the '00s aren't dead after all.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:58 PM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is like a pre-fab record company band. Completely lacking any edge whatsoever. This was obvious.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:41 AM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rock bands suck. Rock'n'Roll bands do not suck

The other way around, unless the Rock'N'Roll band is from the actual fifties, instead of a sad seventies rethread of what they think a fifties Rock'n'Roll would've sounded like (or worse, a nineties revival of a seventies rethread... etc ad infinitum)
posted by MartinWisse at 1:51 AM on April 16, 2013


Anyway, the Strokes made it big and fell from grace because they were the best band playing the sort of music that people were in the mood to listen to after 9/11. It was a time anyway when the endless cycle of pop music was starting to slide into its back to basics phase anyway, after the long domination of hip-hop, dance music, teenage beat and r&b of the nineties, as everybody was unconsciously looking for the next Nirvana, or the next MC5 or Ramones. The Strokes had that sound and they were uncomplicated, unthreatening, soothing even, something that America needed after the trauma of 9/11.

But of course they weren't good enough or interested enough to reinvent themselves sufficiently for the critics, while lacking the courage to pull a Status Quo and just keep doing what they did best. The curse of any lightweight band that catches the zeitgeist.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:59 AM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of the most painful examples of rock bands trying to graft another style onto their music is Led Zeppelin's In Through the Out Door.

You may like this review of that album.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:03 AM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Everyone forgets The Vines, who were the real thing but got messed up by Craig Nicholls' autism. They're still good live.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:02 AM on April 16, 2013


I saw the Vines with Jet. At the time (Highly Evolved) I was a big fan but Omigod they sucked. My wife and I kept looking at each other as if to say "Really?". Jet were terrific though.
posted by unSane at 5:21 AM on April 16, 2013


Huh. I've usually had the opposite reaction, though the first time I saw The Vines they were horrible. I guess Jet are more 'professional' so that doesn't happen. The Vines are good guys though.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:35 AM on April 16, 2013


Time will prove that the most memorable and lasting contribution The Strokes made to modern culture is the t-shirt that Shia Labeouf is wearing in "Transformers". Fact.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 5:47 AM on April 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


When I say the beginning of Indie I don't mean the beginning of the concept or the beginning of independent music — apologies. I'm talking about the broadening of the popularity of independent music in the States to a much much larger audience. In 1998 nobody was talking about independent music (except everybody in this thread, yes) — in the early 2000s everything started changing. The internet had a huge part in this, of course, both in disseminating music itself and knowledge of bands and scenes.

To me, the broadening of independent music happened around 1992, with the airing of Alternative Nation on MTV, a watered-down version of 120 Minutes. This show gave exposure to independent label bands like Nirvana and The Smashing Pumpkins, which had a different sound from the major label music of the time.

However, I understand that my view on this is shaded by my age. The same thing happened before this time, after this time, and will happen again.
posted by Quonab at 6:54 AM on April 16, 2013


One of the most painful examples of rock bands trying to graft another style onto their music is Led Zeppelin's In Through the Out Door.

My favourite Zeppelin album is Houses of the Holy, which marked a broader style in their music. I have no issues whatsoever with In Through the Out Door.

Musicians are usually far more flexible then their fans when it comes to what they want to compose. I remember hearing Robert Plant praise bands like the Cocteau Twins for example, which I'm guessing many Zepplin fans wouldn't care for.

Look at Ron Wood from the Stones. Has known Johnny Marr for years and is a Smiths fan. I tend to like bands that change rather than grinding away at the same sound that sold them a lot of records at one point. No longer charting are being hyped is pretty well meaningless anyway, outside of being able to produce records at all.

It would have been very interesting to see what Zeppelin produced had Bonham not died. Same is true of the Smiths whose last album is very different then their first, is their best in my opinion, but Marr could no longer manage the band and put up with the bullshit of the business at the time and who has, since then, lived with the same "his best is behind him" label.

Do the Stones still put out new albums that never chart but nonetheless are bought by some fans? I have heard Mick Jagger's and Paul McCartney's solo albums of recent years have been quite good but I wouldn't be surprised if they were reviewed as long past their prime.
posted by juiceCake at 7:29 AM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, it was Tattoo You. Actually.

Well, there are people (not me) who would argue (and have probably argued, here, in some strangely deja-vu exactly-the-same-Stones-albums-picked-over mefi thread) that the last time they recorded anything halfway good was Exile on Main Street, maaaan. And that's a long-ass time ago.
posted by blucevalo at 7:50 AM on April 16, 2013


I liked Is This It and Reptilia is one of the few karaoke songs that is exactly in my range, but I mostly didn't get into the rest of their more recent albums. The exception is Julian Casablanca's solo album, which I absolutely love, I suspect I may be in the minority on this.
posted by cirrostratus at 8:34 AM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I credit Is This It for making me realize that NME is basically Tiger Beat: UK.
posted by whir at 9:10 AM on April 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Do the Stones still put out new albums that never chart but nonetheless are bought by some fans? I have heard Mick Jagger's and Paul McCartney's solo albums of recent years have been quite good but I wouldn't be surprised if they were reviewed as long past their prime.

When Tommy Chong was interviewed here in they Bay Area some years ago about the Cheech & Chong reunion tour, he was asked "Will you be performing any new material?"

"Oh no!" He replied. "The last thing anyone wants to hear Mick Jagger say when he walks out on stage is Here's a song off our new album."
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:28 AM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


the last time they recorded anything halfway good was Exile on Main Street, maaaan

Not a pose. A certain kind of truth. Not that the Stones didn't record some halfway decent songs after Exile, but rather that the Let It Bleed --> Sticky Fingers --> Exile progression was so unbe-fucking-lievably good and so much the absolute global pop-cultural apex of a certain species of debauched tribal us-against-the-world bluesy hard rock that anything that came after was going to seem pretty irrelevant by comparison. Which irrelevance has been amplified by the scale of decline in the quality and essential-ness of the Stones' post-Exile work and their transformation into a nostalgic itinerant rock & roll theme park for Baby Boomers.

Put another way, why would anyone spend a half hour with Side 2 of Emotional Rescue (for example) when Side 4 of Exile's absolutely guaranteed to be more revelatory even on the 1,000th listen?

And that's a long-ass time ago.

The time lapsed between the release of Exile on Main St. and this summer's 50 & Counting tour is equal to the time lapsed between Exile's release and Cab Calloway's "Minnie the Moocher" topping the pop charts.
posted by gompa at 12:39 PM on April 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


The Strokes' debut came out when I was a first-year student, and were part of a wave of bands - Trail of Dead, At The Drive-In - who felt to me like grunge all over again - it was there, it was popular, everyone loved it, but to me it felt like grunge all over again - music that was easier to admire than like, stuff that took itself too seriously, stuff that was too rockist, too boyzone, didn't say anything to me about my life. I spent the next two or three years listening to the Go-Betweens and Prefab Sprout and going to see bands like Bearsuit and Jeffrey Lewis, and then the new wave of New Wave turned up and I started liking the sound of the charts again.

I miss Interpol.

I kind of liked them when I first heard them on the Festive 50, but came to realise they were a bit naff. Part of this is ICQ's fault - I was chatting to someone from the US who told me that one of the band lived in the flats where the Hacienda stood in Manchester, then started saying 'HE HAS VD! VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVDDDDDDDDDDDDDD!'. I can't hear them now without thinking of those old wartime posters warning soldiers away from good-time girls who would give them a dose.
posted by mippy at 3:41 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Strokes' debut came out when I was a first-year student, and were part of a wave of bands - Trail of Dead, At The Drive-In - who felt to me like grunge all over again

Eh? The Strokes debut came out a few months AFTER At The Drive-In broke up in early 2001. And they'd been together since 1993.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:00 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


rather that the Let It Bleed --> Sticky Fingers --> Exile progression was so unbe-fucking-lievably good

and so much like the stones in 1964 - not that i would ever complain about that

i still think they have it, sometimes
posted by pyramid termite at 4:55 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


i still think they have it, sometimes


That was... surprisingly not bad.


Not great mind you, but not bad.
posted by stenseng at 4:14 PM on April 18, 2013


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