Note: Los Lobos are doing a live stream next month. Details here.
Wikipedia: “The Strokes are an American rock band from Manhattan, New York. Formed in 1998, the band is composed of singer Julian Casablancas, guitarists Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond Jr., bassist Nikolai Fraiture, and drummer Fabrizio Moretti. They are one of the more prominent bands of the garage rock and post-punk revivals, aiding in the resurgence of indie rock in New York City.”
I liked the Strokes right out of the gate. Terrific energy, excellent playing, lots of punk attitude – true New Yorkers. Casablancas, Valensi, and Moretti met at a school in Manhattan and formed a band. By 1998 they had added Fraiture and Hammond. (Hammond Sr. is a well-known performer and songwriter having written tunes for everybody from Celine Dion to Willie Nelson to Tina Turner.)
The band performed all over New York and environs churning out great garage-rock. A bidding war ensued and the Strokes wound up recording and releasing their first album Is This It in 2001. (This was back when labels figured people still gave a shit about rock and roll.)
“‘Last Nite’s opening guitar riff and overall structure is based on “American Girl” by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. In a 2006 interview with Rolling Stone, Petty commented, “The Strokes took ‘American Girl’ [for ‘Last Nite’], there was an interview that took place with them where they actually admitted it. That made me laugh out loud. I was like, ‘OK, good for you.’ It doesn’t bother me.”
The Strokes were invited to be the opening act for several dates on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ 2006 tour The solo for the song was inspired by guitarist Freddie King. (Sounds like Rich Robinson to me.)
And like that the Strokes were on the map. I don’t necessarily do these six-packs historically or chronologically so I am going to jump way the fuck ahead to their latest album, 2020’s The New Abnormal. The kickoff track is called “The Adults Are Talking.” Casablancas has a terrific voice and you gotta love that falsetto. The album was produced by the legendary Rick Rubin:
I don’t follow bands’ personal lifestyles and adventures as much as I used to back in the day. But after looking at the picture of these scruffy-looking boys from NYC I went looking for the obligatory sex/drugs thing on them. If they went through all that shit, I cannot find it. I’m sure they are not angels but the fact that the exact same band is together after 23 years should tell you something.
As is typical, I get inspired to write one of these posts when I hear a tune on the radio, in this case, the Peter Gunn-ish “Juicebox” from the band’s third album First Impressions of Earth.* And then I say to myself, why the fuck have I not written one word about these guys?
In speaking of this next tune The Independent said, “After a four-year hiatus, 2011’s fourth album Angles was something of a hit-and-miss smorgasbord of new styles for the band, and this attempt at modernist glam boogie was among its firmest hits, thanks to a chorus so stratospheric that you could strap wings on it and start demanding a multibillion-pound bailout package from the UK taxpayer.”
I don’t know what any of that means but “Under Cover of Darkness” is a nice slice of rock:
The band’s second album released in 2003 was called Room On Fire. No way I’m not gonna feature “Reptilia.”
I’ll end up this joyride with a return to their debut album and the tune, “The Modern Age.”
In 2009, NME named Is This It as the Greatest Album of the Decade (the 2000s). The album placed second on a similar list compiled by Rolling Stone.
Brandon Flowers of the Killers told NME that he felt “depressed” after hearing the Strokes’ album Is This It. “That record just sounded so perfect,” he said. “We threw away everything [we were working on] and the only song that made the cut and remained was “Mr. Brightside.”
Indie bands, are you listening? This is how it’s done. With chops, great songs, four-to-the-floor, and attitude. No frills, no bullshit.
*In fact the band decided to save themselves some legal grief and just list Henry Mancini as a writer. See, Jimmy Page? Not so hard is it?