The Strokes

They'll stop the flow of oxygen to your brain!
*special introductory paragraph!
*Is This It?
*Room On Fire
*First Impressions Of Earth
The finest Billy Squier cover band in the South (barely beating out The Everybody Wants Yous), The Strokes are a group of young hypsters from parts worldwide, led by a guy named Julian Casablancas who writes all the songs and makes the dreams come together. When they first burst straight out of New York City, they were compared to the Velvet Underground for reasons I will NEVER understand (VU = slow, dull, shitty - Strokes = fast, fun, clean and crisp), but eventually won unconditional love and bitter backlash with their simple note/chord churning and melodic cool-guy vocals (sung through a distortion effect, for reasons NOBODY will ever understand). In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, "Keep on strokin'!"

* Is This It - BMG 2001 *
Rating = 10

Oh, what a great album this is. Like the debut Cars release back in 1978, the Strokes have completely rediscovered and repositioned good old-fashioned '60s rock and roll into a modern context that even "the kids" can dig! The beats are mostly uptempo and tons of fun, there are two guitarists playing jangly, chimey-type clean repetitive chord sequences with notes atop in a style SLIGHTLY reminiscent of early Stereolab, and the singer sings actual vocal melodies atop the slop of cleanliness, with a slacker "don't give a frig about the world, as long as girls and gay people think I'm cool" style that reminds me of that Pavement guy but with an actual solid effort to hit the notes.

The main reason that I get such a major kick in the panty hose from this LP every time I put it on is because nearly all of the songs are as great as those Nuggets rarities from the mid-60s. And one thing you should know about those Nuggets rarities from the '60s is that most of those bands (Electric Prunes, Chocolate Watchband, Seeds, Count Five) really only had two or three great songs. This Strokes album alone has like TEN great songs. And none of them sound like retro-Beatles/Stones ripoffs.

It's just a style of songwriting that is dreadfully missing from today's radio scene. The FAST song that isn't punk rock. The POP song that isn't drenched in synths. The ROCK song that isn't slow, heavy and filled with rapping and modern production tricks. This CD is a collection of eleven good- to jawdroppingly perfect fast guitar pop rock songs for both young and old to enjoy (I bet my 57-year-old dad would love the hell out of this - it sounds like The Choir or The Five Americans or The Turtles or something! The greatness of the `60s brought back to life and home to roost - It's FUCKIN' GREAT!!!!!!!!!!).

The hit single is "Last Night" with its jumpy "Lust For Life" guitar rhythm, and if you like that one mister, you'd be Grimly Fiendish not to steal an old woman's cane, beat her over the head with it, then sell the cane on ebay as "Norman Rockwell's Official Cane" and use the money you receive from the sale to purchase Is This It by The Strokes.

And with this review, I become part of the hype that has been following this band since day one. Are they breaking any new ground? HELL NO! But I don't. I just think of it as rock and roll. `Cause that's what it is. They're just like reviving old rock and roll. (what do you like about it?) Wull. fuck. I like that it's rock and it's for real. There's no bullshit - there's no rock stars anymore.

I swear to God, I hate cops to the max.

If you catch what I'm referencing here, please send in your favorite quote from it! Because that's the kind of appreciation that The Strokes deserve - a bunch of reader comments that have nothing at all to do with them.

Reader Comments
Absolutely great album. I totally agree with your review of this here great fuckin' band. Except id give this album a 9 instead. All the songs are just awesome rock 'n roll and im excited that theres finally a new band playing this wonderful music. Some highlights on the record are "Hard to Explain", "New York City Cops" (cut off the American version, cuzza the WTC attacks), "Last Nite", "Modern Age", but, really, all the songs are splendid.
I have not heard the entire album, but could not escape the blitzkrieg marketing assault to push these guys into stardom. Without any effort or desire I learned more about this band in one month than I did math in 12 years of school. On the radio,In the newspapers,on television, billboards,internet, in my dreams, "THE STROKES ARE THE NEXT BIG THING ". And then I seen the video for "last Night". All the hype, All that money spent on advertising, preparing the public for "THE NEXT BIG THING", and they look like and sound like the guys who live down the street from me jamming in their living room. Is it good? If you like music that sounds like it was recorded in an alley and a guy singing into a garbage can it rocks. And they are trying sooooo hard to look KOOOOL.. the kids will luv em.
Yes this album is indeed excellente, and as an disillusioned 17 year old I am happy as hell after this album. I go to the perilous good music deprived idiotic place that is high school where "linkin park' is the thing and people like stuff like goldfinger and mxpx better than the clash and the buzzcocks. This album is a breath of fresh air to the rock radio world, and i think within a few albums these guys will tightin' up and create a classic. They're not the new nirvana or sex pistols or beatles but they'll help at least until my band hits it big.

Speaking of old Malky, I just saw him last night and he was fuckin' awesome. Me and my(I and my...whatever) friends were the only teenagers at the place. The place was filled with yuppies growing old and wanting some last chances to see their old hero before they lapse into their eventual midlife crisis or just some people wanting to see good music. He made amusing jokes about making out with Martha Stewart and having an anal baby with a male audience member. He seemed more giddy and joyous about life than that one Pavement show that was on HBO's reverb. He was jumping around making jokes breaking strings and smacking his guitar with such rock and rolly revelry. He was far from the laconic and sleepy sounding. My friends though he was a teenager and he's what...thirty-four?! All in all an excellent show.
You gotta be kidding me! This album is absolute ass-loaf of Iggy/Lou Reed 70's glam trash-by-the-numbers. A pastiche of every clich‚ from the hipster rock of old... like Slim Jim, or cheap frankfurters, it is all lips and asses. When I listen to this, I want to pull pine cones out of my ass very slowly to distract myself. I like to talk about asses, but I am not gay.

You will be hearing from me further. I have been silent long enough.
Is David Fricke the only one left at Rolling Stone magazine that actually gives a shit about music? Fricke, an early champion of the Stokes, convinced me to get "The Modern World" single and it turned out to be everything he promised. Then, the hype went into overdrive. I began to worry. A backlash (envy?) began. They sold out shows in England and appeared on every one of that country's Goddamn music mag cover proclaiming them as "the new Velvets." My worry escalated. Their debut was scheduled, then pushed back because some fuckheads ran planes into innocents. Apparently, a song from the debut might be considered offensive because a Strokes' lady friend declared that New York City cops "ain't too smart." I didn't bother to wait, and, like a schmuck, I spent more on shipping than the actual cd itself getting an Australian copy of "Is This Is" that included "New York City Cops" and the un-censored cover art. When it arrived (still before the domestic release) my wife asked me how I liked it. And just like the scene in "High Fidelity" where they're playing the demo tape of the skate punk's cassette, I told her almost embarrassingly: "It's really...really good." Not the best album of the year, but fuck me, it's up there.
what a question. what an album! what a band!

maybe there's a reason so many people are up in arms about the strokes - could it be that they're actually worth the attention for once?!? maybe it's not the band not being worth the hype as much as the hype has become such an ugly norm to us kiddies - every time there's someone out there with a record that isn't britney spears or moby (and remember, even he was THE NEXT BIG THING for a little while), some critic or label head gets so excited about it that they stumble all over themselves to praise it before they've even learned the names of all the songs. and because we're a gullable species, we go out and buy the thing, whether it's good or not and most of the time, we're disappointed that we could've bought a dimebag and a fifth o' beam with that nineteen dollars we wasted on such rock and roll crap! (ahem, at the drive in)

but, beyond the hype issue, there's a few good reasons to like this band. one, the songs. two, the sound. three, the fun. and, yeah, they wear their influences on their leather sleeves, but so what!?! i can't think of the last time a young band rose from the ashes of the nineties and sucessfully incorporated all that's good about television, the stooges, VU, new york dolls and that great bounty that is sixties psychedelic pop. i wouldn't be so quick to get rid of these guys just because they aren't perfect yet. they're a new band for the love of DOG!!! and i think dogs would like the strokes, if they could hear them for all those dog whistles. boo.

i've got to say that i'm glad not every song sounds like 'last nite'. easily the best single besides 'the modern age', but still - the one flaw in iggy's "lust for life" album was that every song sounded like it was done on the same day, with the same swagger whether it needed it or not. even with their limitations (or just their intentionally conservative playing), they give every song it's own unique push.

the first song is the most unusual one on the whole record. i can't tell if it's a drum machine or just the most satisfyingly crappy recording of a trap kit ever conceived, but there's such character in the opening instruments (nikolai's beautiful bass line for this song rivals anything john cale or sterling morrison played for VU) that by the time julian drops the first sentence, it's hard not to fall in love. i for one like the distorted vocals. for the same reason i like bob pollard better through a memory man (echo pedal) - it makes the experience that much more personal and memorable. 'the modern age' is just an excellent song that is made even more excellent by julian's most passionate vocals on the whole album. 'soma' and 'barely legal' are good sister songs (same key, almost same speed), leading into the first of the two sassier tracks: 'someday' is the smartest song here and feels so good from top to bottom that it makes my white ass shake to the rhythm. 'last nite' (also sassy) is such a great time and (here's the proof that i'm an MTV kid) i am thrilled as i can be that such a classy video was made for the song. i think they let julian do his vocals live on the thing, because i hear some subtle differences in the mix and the sound of his mic hitting the floor a couple of times. it's just a nice to thing to see on the boob tube in the 21st century. 'alone, together' (the one between the sassy tracks) is pure talking heads goodness and makes me smile a big rock and roll smile. 'hard to explain' sounds like jeff buckley fronting guided by voices and i couldn't be happier about it. the final three wrap up the record quite nicely, with 'take it or leave it' being one of the more musically adventurous cuts on "is this it". i'm curious as hell about album two already, and if the world will give 'em a chance, it should be a great one too.

maybe because of it's limited goals, this band hits the nail on the head every time. i'll be seeing these guys live in about four days, so it remains to be seen if they're as charming in person as they are on record. i've got high hopes for 'em though! long live the strokes! (M P)
I haven't heard this album yet. I hate over-hyped bands, and the only thing I hate more than over-hyped bands are over-hyped bands that are good. I hate sharing musical opinions with the hipster elite of music press. I refused to listen to Elastica when they got overhyped, too. Problem is, I'll probably end up liking this album. Oh, well.
the strokes are the classic band that we need right now. the lead singers voice is like no other right now and thats not easy to say about alot of the musicians out there right now. i dont give a fuck what any one said. the album plain and simple deserves a ten and every song gets me goin and is motivating. is voice might sound raspy but atleast it isnt another pop diva or fred durst. (Karma J. Mustafa)
I'm just amused because Drazy called them the stokes. I don't really have an opinion on this band, maybe from underexposure, maybe just because everyone else does. But what it all comes down to, is that Drazy called them the stokes. Scroll up and take a look for yourself. S-T-O-K-E-S. Stokes. Like stoking a fire. Or being stoked. As in the metaphor about being excited. Or pleased. However you see it. Hey, one thing I noticed about this Harry Potter thing, is that the actor, who plays a character called Ron Weasley, well his name is Rupert Grint. Which name is less appealing? In summary, Drazy said Stokes. Stokes! (Layla Khalilov)
Okay I have to say that the album is fucking wicked, but give me a break, what the fuck is the big deal. Our media has been brainwashing us with these pop singing, im a virgin, bands that we just needed something new. People are tired of Britney and Puff Daddy and wanted some real music. So the media finally payed attention to umm the rest of us fans of musica oppose to 13 girls. Anyways, the album is excellent. Personally i have to disagree with you and Say "Trying my luck" is my favourite song. The album is my number 1 choice of music in the car or during a session ( it sounds so good when uve smoked). All in all I think theyre great for a bunch of spoiled rich kids, who fuck and do drugs most of the time. I'll give it an 8! (Tim Eimiller)
You have got to be kidding me. This is bland, unimaginitive, crudely performed, underproduced and boring music. I should have known when people began comparing them to the Velvet Underground. I've got news for you. Any band playing very basic rock music fronted by a monotone singer sounds like the fucking Velvet Underground. At least that band had some balls, both lyrically and sonically.

The guitars sound utterly flat. Which is appropriate, because they aren't doing anything interesting, anyway. The singer's vocal range is extremely limited. His voice has no color whatsoever and the heavy processing can't hide that. The drummer seems completely incapable of a fill or even a bloody change. A fucking drum machine could have more character than this guy. Of course, the drum sound is so weak, like everything else on the album, that he was fighting an uphill battle. Problem is, he forgot to fight.

The lead guitarist pulls off a very fine guitar solo in "The Modern Age." The record's one high point. The Strokes are nothing special at all. There must be hundreds, if not thousands, of struggling young bands across this country who are vastly superior to these guys. The british press is out to lunch, as usual. Their hyperventilating press clips should have been another clue to stay clear of this one.

Once I got through this record, I thought the title was very apt. They just forgot the question mark. Gimme some Weezer. (Glenn Lester)
I watched the Decline of Western Civilization (bootleg off ebay) last night and dug. The interview with the punk kids (and Pat Smear!) was probably the most interesting part. Although Chuck "Gary McDaniel" Dukowski was hilarious too. The Germs, though, sucked. I can't believe anyone would want to go to one of their shows. It was fascinating to watch Darby Crash be totally fucked up, and it shows the nihilism thing real well (the painter incident), but the Germs are pretty much worthless musically to me. I wish there could've been an interview with Fear--they were fucking hilarious (perhaps Lee Ving has some repressed sexual tension???) and fucking tight as hell too. Them, X, and the Flag were definitely the best bands (though the Circle Jerks were good too). Maybe you should write a Decline of Western Civ review page. So, the Strokes: decent record, especially the uplifting chorus of "The Modern Age," the swing of "Last Nite," and the catchiness of "Barely Legal" and "Hard To Explain." But saviors of rock: hell no. Look to Fugazi or Dismemberment Plan or And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead for saving creative rock and roll.
"new york city cops, they aint to smaaaarrt"
OH MY GOD!!! the stroke's is this it is absolutely incredible! and it is not because they're adding anything extremely new to rocks canon (althought I have never heard there pavement/stereolab/fall/lou reed/Beatles hybrid before), it is because it has no bad songs and I could say that the majority of them are perfect in every way. praise comes to me every time I listen to it. the strokes in my mind are kinda like the big star of the 90's, but better, with better less contrived songwriting (do we really need shit like "india song") one of my top ten favorite albums of all time. 10/10 (Roland Fratzl)
Haven't heard this album, so I can't say if it sucks or not, but I saw the video for the first single. The song did absolutely nothing for me. It seemed to me like they're going for that early Rolling Stones sound, but it doesn't even compare. It's about as absurb as those no-talents in Oasis daring to called themselves the new Beatles. In fact I think that's why Oasis got big in the first place; people think that if someone has the nerve to make such a claim that it must be true...tell people something often enough and they'll start to believe it without making a value judgement on their own.

Whenever a major record company starts hyping a totally unknown band out of the blue is always a bad sign, and very rarely does the band in question fill the promised potential. I can think of hundreds of bands that blow these guys away, and none of them get any publicity. When something is handed to me ready for consumption on a platter I immediately get suspicious. Remember that the major labels don't care if the music is any good. All they care about is finding what they think is the right sound to get the wallets open of the demographic they're marketing towards, and in this case it's a band that they think will remind the baby boomers, or more so the generation after them, of that "old tyme" rock sound, hoping to trigger their nostalgia, when the band actually seems to be nothing but a pale imitation.

Have you seen the video? It's so obvious that that's what they're after...filmed in cheap looking camcorder quality like old shows such as Ed Sullivan, it's a bunch of guys in 70's haircuts wearing lots of denim playing their guitar rock on what looks like the stage of The Price Is Right.

People are a bunch of suckers! (Willie Simpson)
Yeehaw, some godamn life in rock and roll. Not that it keeps me up nights, but I just want to imagine the look on Fred Durst's, POD's, Creed's, Matchbox 20's, and Linkin Park's face if they ever sat down and listened to this truly great example of what a modern rock record should sound like. Those other groups are just so mind numbingly talent less and pretentious that it drives me nuts, and the Strokes aren't that special or original or anything!! That is the damn sadness of the state of pop rock today, that once a band that probably wasn't half as good as the kings of 60s/70s comes along, but is creative nonetheless, absolutely blows away all of the fucking other "popular" bands of today. (Not talkin bout Radiohead or White Stripes or similar ilk, but aforementioned groups.)

I love nearly every track as described by others in greater detail. NYC cops is really a standout, should not have been left off American release, as it has nothing to do with Sept.11 or even cops for that matter. However it could be a sign of good things to come, remember when every damn Lennon song was banned for words like "knickers," "high," and "turn you on?" Sure you do! Although funny how none of the Lennon songs about beating and killing and spying of women were ever banned, and there were a lot of those too. Those cooky English censors, YEEhaw the Strokes, 9/10!!!!! (Todd Lee)
These guys are the real deal, unlike the Georgia Satellites. The Georgia Satellites you say? They were the last band from the South that tried to revive this jangly form of happy rock. Remeber the song 'Don't Hand Me No Lines And Keep Your Hands To Yourself'? You don't? Well, lets see if The Strokes can stay on the scene longer than the GA Sats did. Yes, this is good old fashioned straight forward guitar driven Rock n' Roll, with catchy hooks that is lyrically interesting and compitently played by guys who somehow found (or invented) a time machine, and managed to land on an old late '60s Dance Party TV show, which is what their debut video is supposed to recreate, just incase you're 30/40-something and were wondering where you'd seen it before; unless of course your 20-something and it either looks avant garde or terribly ameturish, which takes us back to the Dance Party thing. All that video was missing was some more really shlocky effects, like a strobe light, a spinning globe light, really pointless camera pans and zooms, a 30-something emcee with a really bad hairdo and a painfully age-inappropriate bell-bottomed suit, with younger guys wearing plaid pants and turtle neck sweaters and girls wearing Capri pants or mini-skirt (with knee boots) and a sleevless cotton tee (also with turtle neck) and really pointy bras, all dancing rather woodenly. Oh yeah, the album is good too. "Its gotta a good beat and you can dance to it". (Colin Jaffe)
Not too much to say that other people haven't already (which won't keep me from saying something, of course). I don't give a shit about the hype, though it's obviously a lot of hype if it reached even me. I mean, if it's a creative album, who cares if it's popular or not? Just enjoy one of the few times that popularity and creativity coincide.

Oh, if you're thinking of getting this album, make sure to get an import version. I'd give the American version an 8, because they got rid of the great "NYC Cops" song and replaced it with the weaker Last Nite B-side "When It Started". The import version might get a 9 in my book, though. Plus, while the American version's cover is cool, the import version has the uncensored cover, and is therefore cooler.

If you get the import version and you're a completist, you should pick up the Last Nite single. It has "When It Started", plus slightly rawer live versions of "Last Nite" and "Take It or Leave It". And if you made the mistake of getting the Bushified American version, you can get "NYC Cops" on one of the other singles. (Curt Myers)
I don't get this band. Reminds me of the same hype as the crash and burn "At The Drive In". Just some retro sounding, boring, slow music. Nothing new, in fact NoFx has contributed more to the music world. This band will not be heard from again. Another contract album and you can say goodbye, if you're still around.
"I'm a total rebel. I rebel against everything."
If there's one main problem with my taste in music, it's quite simple: I have what my friends like, they hate what I like. So while they're in heaven listening to Weezer and Radiohead in the car, I'm in the backseat humming a Subhumans song, or listening to the entire Circle Jerks album Group Sex in my head. (Which isn't very hard, it's barely 15 minutes long.)

And since they're ready to bow down and worship anything championed by Spin, Rolling Stone, or their holy grail, CMJ, that's even remotely "indie," I knew they would like the Strokes.

Here's how my first encounter with the Strokes went. "Hey, you like the New York Dolls and other punk bands, right? You'll love these guys."

Naturally, I hated it. And I still do. What did Wire, Television and the New York Dolls ever do to deserve a comparison to this incredibly overrated bunch of wannabe Velvet Underground groupies?

You'd think during the course of a 39 minute album, these guys would stumble across a somewhat catchy riff, but no, they don't. And "New York City Cops" is one of the most boring songs I've ever heard, right alongside "Last Nite," "This Modern Age" and the rest of the shitty album. (Call me a wanker for only listing the singles, but those are the ones my friends listen to the most. I don't exactly say "Hey, what was that shitty song on the first side? You know, the one with the boring guitar parts, a solo just like the other songs and... shit, now I don't even know what song I'm referring to.")

I do like some of the pro-Strokes arguments I've heard, though. "But they write catchy songs!" So do the Swedish guys who write for Britney Spears.

I'm awfully tired of being such a dick on this site, though, so I will say something nice about the Strokes. They are much, much less evil than Staind, Linkin Park, Blink-182 and 99% of the shit clogging the airwaves.

They still suck, though, and so do the White Stripes.
Wow, I despise this album.

I heard "Last Nite" on the radio and figured, "hey, wow, these guys are good." I read some reviews (including Mr. Prindle's) and thought, "they're into the Velvet Underground and Television, they must be at least pretty cool". Um, wake me up when the album's done, please? I don't believe I paid $12 for this! There's not a single damn riff on here that I can even recall, WBinder007 said it best above. I can just go put on Marquee Moon or The Velvet Underground (3rd LP) or Wire's On Returning and get basically the same stuff, done better. Why these guys have been anointed saviors of rock and roll is totally beyond me, they're just another trendy group who we'll all forget in a few months. 4/10 (Curt Myers)
The Hives rule. Their second album is tremendous. They are getting credit for being the New Bomb Turks (albeit a cleaner, catchier New Bomb Turks) Still a great album and they should be pulling the attention away from The Strokes. (Mike K.)
For some reason my other comment I made for this never got here, but I'm glad of it, since it contained some misinformation that wouldn't be there at all had I actually read through all of the comments first.

So, as the last person to buy this album ever, who actually ended up waiting past the strokes backlash period and a little bit into the "who the hell were the strokes again?" period for some reason, I kinda like it. At first it all sounded like the same garage rock song, but eventually it revealed itself to be a bunch of different garage rock songs with perhaps a few too many common elements. The lo-fi production thing seems pretty contrived (especially that bit in "someday" where someone's talking in the background that seems a little too well timed), but there's something strangely admirable about a band that could very easily use their major label money for big bloated nu metal guitars and state of the art linkin park style programming but decide to spend it on making the drums sound like they're recorded from the next room, giving the guitars a scuzzy sound to them, and distorting every single vocal track. I enjoy it on late night car trips, but otherwise I listen to it for maybe the first 8 songs or so and get bored. (Sir Adam Boysen)
I just wanted to say that I think the Strokes singer sounds way more like Mark Lanagan from the Screaming Trees than Steve Malkmus. In fact, I first saw them on MTV2, which has really bad reception here, and I thought it was a new Mark Lanagan band. I still kind of like 'em though. The music is kind of a Television rip off too.
the strokes sounds like an 80's band called flesh for lulu

i bought the cd and at once knew i had heard this 15 years earlier (James Bailey)
Maybe I have a bit of a bias here, as I am a fan of the Strokes and really enjoy Is This It, but they really should be cut some slack in terms of all the comparisons. People say that they're nothing but a poor man's Velvet Underground/Television/Flesh for Lulu/Screaming Trees/Stooges/fill in the old garage band they must have ripped off. But if you think about it, how much can you really do with a typical band instrumentation? Sure, you can do guitar-effect-this and vocal-distortion-that, but the whole production thing has all really been done--to death! What I find fresh about the Strokes is not necessarily their songs (which are undeniably catchy, even if it is in a traditional garage way) but their stripped down approach to rock music now. Yes, NOW! Sure, VU did pure, simple rock just like that way back in the day, obviously influencing the Strokes, but that was the 60's--back then EVERYONE was doing rock that way. The Beatles, the Stones, even the Beach Boys all started out doing your basic three-cord songs with your basic three-guitars-drums-and-singer arrangements. And then, when the music scene shifted to drugs and experimentation, all these bands were doing psycadelic music and pushing the enevelope in terms of recording capablities. In essence, they were all kind of hopping on the band-wagon of popular music. And the same goes for any of those bands that the Strokes have been compared to at their own height of popularity. That's how we all even know about these bands to use them in comparisons! What's differnt about the Strokes is that they are a garage band at a time when garage music is, well, in the garage. Right now, the charts and airwaves are dominated by hip hop, r&b, nu metal, and, the most loathed of all, pop. And the band played on! The Strokes aren't looking to be popular and sell a million records, like Lou Reed or Paul McCartney was, they're just looking to play their music because they know it's not like anything that's popular now. They're not on any kind of band-wagon. Maybe their sound or their singer has been done, but then again it's all been done, really. That's why every new band or artist out there now has been compared to someone else--every single one. Face it, originality is dead! And with all the schlock out there right now, all you can do as a music lover nowadays is hope that a good, honest, catchy song comes along every once in a while and be damned happy when one does. And if by chance there's a singer or a band that has a few, or a lot, of these likeable numbers in their repertoire, why would you want to numb yourself to that musical satisfaction because it sounds a bit like something you've heard before? Like the Godfather says, "Fuggedabadit!" Just enjoy a great album like Is This It for what it is and not what some critic says it's trying to be. Whatever. As far as I'm concerned, the Strokes have done good, real good. (Jon)
Eh. I really wish I was clever enough to see the point of any given Strokes song. Really I do. It gives me a feeling from the band I've only had listening to Radiohead albums: "We're going to make a lot of money off you psuedo-intellectuals, and then we'll probably bitch about it later." Watch Radiohead's movie and the feeling gets even stronger. She's like that, all right. Song's sung without emphasis 'cause it would righteously blow otherwise. Bravo to them for doing something that was rebellious thrity or forty years ago. (James)
Bo-oring! People like to compare the Strokes to the Stooges or MC5 or The Kinks or Television or whoever, but they really bear more resemblance musically to Bread or Phil Collins. Just really wimpy.
Man, I've never seen so many pompous elitist assholes in one place before. Here's a typical elitist retort to someone saying they like a band: "yeah, did it 20 years ago and ten times better". I guess in that case there are only about five bands that will be considered good and everyone else is just copying them. Fucking open your ears and listen to the melodies man. They're not just catchy, they're solid. I admire the Strokes for doing just enough to make the song perfect. Sure every song might only have two or three parts, but these sections contrast perfectly with each other and would not be nearly as effective on their own. Look at me, a guy who worships complex metal bands like Opeth praising a simplistic pop rock band, that's because I'm not trying to overanalyze their music but instead just enjoy it. 9/10 (would be a 10 if "Take it or Leave it" and "Soma" were better) (Sandra Terry)
This is the music I've been waiting for. The only "hype" I received was a recommendation from a friend (which led me to have a look at the hype - Christ! You'd think they were Adam and The Freakin' Ants, the way the press darlings are snarling with each other over them). I'm old and I don't give a rats' ass about hype and backlash and what the band eats and who/what they pork and if they're Christians or Hindus or whatever. Since I am not planning to have The Strokes over for tea with my grandma, I do not care if they are nice guys. Since The Strokes do not owe me any money, I do not care if their parents are rich. Of course this album is derivative. All modern music, with the possible exceptions of Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music" and John Cage's "4'33", is derivative. Anyone who has a grasp of music history is aware of that and will understand the vast difference between deriving and copying. The Strokes aren't copying anything. Name one band that you can listen to and not make an educated guess as to which bands they enjoy listening to, and I will eat live bees and send you the video. There are few things I love more than listening to a band and realizing that they've spent years appreciating the same music that I appreciate. The Strokes do not sound like the 70's, which I remember well. They sound like rightfuckingnow. Much criticism seems to be focused more on the personal details of The Strokes than on the music; the British press is especially eager to disparage them for having parents who aren't fashionably destitute. Since the British tend to be fixated on class differences that mean little to most Americans, I'm hoping American press coverage will focus more on the music and less on irrelevant sour grapes. Stop burning up inside because Julian Casablancas gets more and better ass than you do and you'll be rewarded with music that will make you happy. I do not hear Television but I do hear Lou Reed, and I also hear Tom Petty. Rather than try to join in on the pigeonholing, I will instead tell you what The Strokes are not: They are not grandiose, retro, clever, punk rock, chic, lazy, studio musicians or a garage band.

Also: I poked at it with a stick. (Ian Rodia)
Please refer to my Radiohead review.
I don't care if anyone in America likes the Stokes or not. Well, then again, if they don't buy CD's the Strokes really can't publish music and that would be bad. Why is that? I was driving down the road with my radio turned on. Most of the time I want to throw it onto the highway. I don't know why I even had it on at the time because if you listen to it for about 2 months straight within any given time frame you will not really hear new music. You might get a song here or a song there, but most stuff comes and goes. What's particularly annoying is that station programmers have this mentality that if it was 'the last big thing' that it's what to fill in between new stuff. Why am I still hearing Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots and all their best rip off artists? Don't get me wrong, these are talented musicians (excepting Pearl Jam), but isn't it time to let go of something 10 years old? Anyway, back in 1990 I heard Nirvana on the radio for the first time. I was out of the country for the prior 2 years so I had no idea they were 'the next big thing', but one listen and you could tell. Any defunct hair band at that time knew their gig was up. The guard was changing. I think I experienced the same thing when I first heard the Strokes on the radio. I could see Cobain finally resting in peace and he was happy.

Since then, I've bought every CD I could get my hands on and saw them in DC. They'd actually played 5 new songs at the set which simply kicked ass. Perhaps all their songs sound the same to some degree but don't be hypocritical when you make that call. What's the difference between Blitzkrieg Bop and Cretin Hop? Debaser and Bone Machine? In the Name of Love and A Sort of Homecoming? Walk on the Wild Side and Satellite of Love? Yellow Submarine and All You Need Is Love? Would it be cool if they all of a sudden sounded like Limp Bizkit? Besides, what does anyone know about new sounds when no one's making any? What is everyone expecting out of new bands? Should fireworks or blood pop out of your car speakers when you pop in their latest CD?

The Stokes have a unique sound. You can call it 'garage' but any band without technical ability is in that category. These guys can hit their notes and have great timing. When Julian's voice rises to make a point, it's not depressed self-pity. It has a quality that feels like a teen who gets passed over by girls because he doesn't live on the football field. It sort of asks 'Why?'. The title track, Is This It captures that feeling of being out all night, getting drunk and trying to find a good place to crash. It drags like drunken feet and it repeats it riff like a hangover. It ends like a warm bed. What really amazes me it that most people mistake Julian's vocals as purely something from the early 70's. I think he does pull from the 70's but also from the 30's. Listen to Modern Age without the instrumentation and you might think you're at a party with the Great Gatsby. The rushed notes from Albert give it this feel of riding in the back seat of a convertible with the wind going through your hair. There's a sort of dementedness when Julian sings, 'my vision's clearer now, but I'm unafraid' that reminds me of Joy Division's 'Digital'. You wonder if he's going to crack up and fall into an epileptic seizure. Soma is like a drug induced night out in NYC. It has this stop and start feeling like a Saturday night. It moves between different scenes, friends, places, people and then the night ends with the singer's friends doing their thing and him doing his. Barely Legal is that feeling of being 18. Nothing makes sense, you don't know why the hell you do things or what your relationships mean. You're just kind of there. I think the EP version really brings more light to the song and has a little more humor and absurdity. '$25 dollars won't get me far, the last resort is to steal your car'. Someday really could be Van Morrison's Brown Eye'd Girl. Trying your luck isn't particularly my favorite, but the end really kicks in thanks to Nick's guitar and Fab's cymbals. Last Night has had too much written about it, but it's obviously an incredible song and I think this is mostly Julian's credit. His voice is so Van Morrison and that's a sound that hasn't been heard on the radio in new songs for a long time. It's such an odd choice and perhaps that's why it stands out so strongly. The theme is classic like Coke. Boy goes to see girl, girl's a bitch, guy leaves and can't figure out what her problem is. Who can? Alien's, they won't understand. But she shouldn't forget, 'You ain't never had nothing I wanted, but, I want it all and just can't figure out. . .Nothin'". The rest is simple, easy rock. Fun chords, fun percussion, fun beat. It's almost weird to set a break up to this upbeat, fun music but on the other hand it's genius. It's such a plain, basic and done to death (not the exact same way) theme that to make it light is this sort of musical admittance that everything's already been done, so have fun with it. There's a love of rock music by the band here that the cynics really don't get. Nick's stuff is so Chuck Berry. Hard to explain has this driving beat and rhythm that just gives that riding in a car feeling again, but Nick's choice of chords and Nikolai's bass lines gives it a sadly disappointed feeling. The chorus is an anthem to youth as good as any other. When It Started really highlights Nikolai's bass. It bounces, it saddens, it repeats but it's usually very interesting (and unnoticed). Trying Your Luck is the last song I've really tried to 'get into'. I've read some reviews that think this is their best writing. I don't know about that, but I love the lyrics. 'When I find out, I hope it's you who set this trap'. Could anything be sweeter? You can sense Julian's vulnerability as he tries this relationship knowing it could turn out badly. 'I know, this is the world but I'll try my luck, with you'. And Nick's solo highlight's the tragedy of sorts the song sings about. To finish (and could there be a better finish) Take it or Leave it says it best. It sums everything up about young relationships. Too much acting, too much trying, too much backstabbing and someone always gets hurt. This is the dating situation in America and it hangs over you everytime. Why? Why play in the game? Why can't people make up their mind? The song asks the band aid to be ripped off already. If you think it's a bad song, get your heart ripped out and try a sing (or scream) along in your car. You'll be an instant fan. They played this last at the D.C. concert and it was an anthem. Julian walked down into the audience, got back on stage, then pulled about half of the audience on stage to scream along. No set trashing, no fans ripping his clothes off, just a kind of bonding. Isn't that what rock music should be? (Nick Collings)
Despite the huge hype in the UK, it's easy to see why "Is This It" was so reverred - catchy, melodic and cool attitude make for a lethal combination. I personally don't think it's as good as many say, but I'd give the album a high 7, many songs like Hard To Explain and New York City Cops are highly infectious. But the Velvet Underground did it better over 30 years ago.....
When I herd Last Nite a year and a half to two years ago on Minneapolis's sole good FM Alternative Station, I could tell then and there that the guard was changing. Since then, John Mayer's gone platinum, the White Stripes have debuted in the top ten, Jack Johnston is touring everywhere, Rubyhorse has had a single that wouldn't quit, and a shit load of other low key, no name, down to earth, back to the basics rockers and songwriters have hit it big. But each and every one of those slobs owes it to two bands, in my opinion: Wilco, which bravely trod the unfriendly soil of "weird" alternative over five years ago, and these guys, who, along with the stripes, the vines, the hives, and the all american rejects have transported us back to the days of cool cars and even cooler music. I never lived in rock's "golden age" so i never knew what i was missing. I have always been content to listen to R.E.M., or Everclear, or PearlJam, or the Counting Crows, or Soul Asylum, or the Jayhawks, or Semisonic, or Red Hot Chili Peppers, or...hell, anyone who could play good enough alt to keep my short attention span, because that's what I grew up with. But these guys take the cake. They produce original, driving rock that is freakishly familiar and infectiously catchy, but not overplayed like Lit and Sum 41 and so many other rockers have been. Truly a promising band that should delight fans young and old for years to what i predict will be a spoiling career. I could write for pages and pages about the perfection of the guitars, the upbeat drumming, or the raspy, muddled, strangely appealing vocals of Casablanca but I choose not to. Instead, I will end with one comment: Thank you to The Strokes and to the other bands like them, that are finally restoring good rock to High Schools around the country. Someone earlier on this post mentioned the sorry state of teen music...and it couldn't be more true. They're all a bunch of Nirvana, Green Day, or Metallica wannabes, and it's simply disgusting the ignorance some teenagers have of the truly pleasurable music of Radiohead, the Clash, Fine Young Cannibals, Gin Blossoms, and of course these guys. Thanks, Strokes, for making music worth listening to again. (Hossein Nayebagha)
Why are so many reader comments, and even parts of the review itself, comparing this to stuff like Britney and Linkin' Park?!

I don't think this album was marketed for the same crowd, and they probably don't have 1/10 of such fanbase. So anyway, being better than the chart-toppers of the day isn't really impressive, the Strokes were doing nothing new, this was released in 2001 and the retro scene had existed for quite a few years...It only took this long before bands like Strokes and White Stripes started to get some attention in mainstream media, they're just a few years behind.

I'm not into rock media and all that, so I was told to check this band through word-of-mouth...It was the end of August, and the week after or whatever, I listened to it at the record store, I thought it was really catchy and enjoyable. Could as well have bought it, but I guess I was too busy.

A couple of months later I happened to have access to it and for some reason it wasn't as appealing anymore. This is merely a decent pop record, nothing more. The vocalist blows, he couldn't be any more predictable...Wow, a guy is totally apathetic singing through distortion. Whatever. Much of the rest ends up at the wrong part of the line that seperates Cute from Boring.

If the verse riff of "Last Nite" kinda sounds like "Lust For Life", then I have to mention that the intro sounds a lot like the one for "American Girl" by Tom Petty.

There are a few songs at the start that are pretty good, I sometimes mix them up but, yeah, the Strokes are a bunch of losers and they haven't contributed shit to the scene. It's often implied that the overload of low-key, garage/retro bands today is a result of the success with Strokes and that is bullshit...Even someone like me who didn't exactly TRY to keep updated with that stuff, knows that it was already on...And these guys happened to be at the right place when the mainstream was about to give it a chance.
you know honestly, i dont think the strokes sound anything like the velvet underground at all. i have wondered since day one why people always say they sound like them. i heard them in 9th grade and maybe its just because of the era but it'll probably always be one of those goofy little touchstones, even if i dont particularly love the album anymore. (Chris Osman)
I hate to add another lighweight, polarised, knee jerk reaction but... this album sucks ass so hard that as a result space and time are slowly being drawn into a newly created black-hole of mediocrity. Ok I wont say The Strokes are entirely talentless, because yes some of the stuff here is vaguelly catchy, but what really has me peeling the skin off my face is the total air of smugness in every second of this wank. However while I could go on giving reasons for why I hate these turd pollishing fakes, anyone can come up with creative insults. So I'll just add a little tale that will be untold anywhere else on this page. A couple of years ago a worked in a club in Glasgow (Scotland) of limited quality on any level. For some reason when bands play in other venues around town they often end up here after they've played. So the whole band was in one night and they'd had an area of the club reserved for themselves and anyone else they wanted to hang with, snort coke, whatever. Fair enough. Needless to say they are some of the most ignorant and arrogent pricks I've had the pleasure of being in the same room as. However all was in the end sweet as the singer ended up getting punched in the face by one of the band's own chosen few. HaHaHa! Cocks.

While we're here I'll just add that on another occasion (after a brief clarification of terms) that flat-faced troll from Sum 41 was most unimpressed upon being quizzed as to whether he had ever had his shit pushed in! Still great band though eh? Finger on the pulse of a generation... Yup same generation that keeps lapping up all the shite America cares to fling our way, cheers! (Hossein Nayebagha)
Why does no one point out that the intro of "Last Nite" (mediocre/lousy song) sounds A LOT like Tom Petty's "American Girl"?

My response to this record keeps changing. On my first day at the university 3,5 years ago a guy I knew told me he had to get some money to go buy the debut album of the Strokes, which was just going to be released then. A few days later I listened to it at the record store, and I thought it was one of the catchiest things I'd ever heard. I thouht about buying it, but I never did. But it turned out that my sister did, so I gave it a listen, and I didn't get excited about it at all. The other few times that I've heard it over the years it's been even less interesting.

Then a couple of weeks ago I heard it again and now I gotta admit it's got some good songs on it, "Someday", which at least in Europe was their third single from this album, and the only one with a "real" video, is GREAT. I always thought it was just a stupid boring indie rock song that doesn't go anywhere. Still some parts was stuck in my head... BUT the thing I noticed now is that there's this second guitar playing this kinda funky thing in the background, constantly, which makes all the difference...

"The Modern Age" is the other good one, the opener is not bad either... Then there are some songs that are really good but they are RUINED by some really lousy parts, I forget the titles, but I'm talking about track #4 and #8... The latter one kinda sounds like Weezer too, with that opening melody that comes back a few times. Unfortunately the 2nd half of the album is overall pretty weak... Good, not great... 7/10. has it right. i agree. love this album, always will. i too was in ninth grade when it exploded. now i'm listening to much more and better music than i did at that age, but i'll have a place in my heart for that album forever
Ok, so maybe its a bit late to give my opinion on Is This It? since everybody else did back when it was the Next Big Thing, but their new album's about to come out and I still don't get it. It's not that I don't like them (although I don't like them), it's that everything everybody else says is so great about them seems to be the opposite when I listen to them. Fast, upbeat and energetic? Breathing new life into rock and roll? Are we talking about the same record here? The singer sounds like he just came out of a coma (and he looks like it too if you've ever seen him wandering around the stage in a stupor in one of the videos). Every song, except maybe the verse part of the first one, seems to be composed of one guy alternating between two notes and another guy strumming a power chord, and the whole album is drenched in this phony "lo-fi" buzz. The words "sluggish" and "monotonous" come to mind. I actually liked the second album a bit more because the songs were more poppish and seemed to fit the droll arrangements better; this album just sucks. Looks like they dropped the fuzz for their new album though, and its already getting bad reviews. Whatever, as far as guilty pleasures go, I'd rather listen to Franz Ferdinand or even the friggin' Killers, at least those albums are fun.

'Ey! Catchy songs, here. Lots of catchy, very very similar songs that all strike the same mood, last the same, and are similarly catchy. Beatles could get away with monotony; Strokes can't. I like it up to track 8, then just start hating every critic in the world as the last brief, up-tempo, sarcastically happy chord ends the album. THIS relentlessly fast, light, cute stuff is supposed to save popular music or some SHIT? Pul-lease.

That said, it's consistent, fun, and nice. And probably that Casablancas dude is great in the sack--at least that's what a few girls at Rice say.

Good for what it is. Now are people going to admit Wilco is better than this band could ever hope to be, or do I have to bust a New Yawk minute over their noggin??

Dan Brookes
It's 2009 and this record still sounds as great, fun and fresh as it ever did. Every song has a melody or two, hooks, a bit of sass and smarts, and they end before you get a chance to be bored. Put it down in the books! A classic! The best song is the never-talked-about-but-clearly-brilliant 'Trying Your Luck'.
"I'm a total rebel, I......I rebel against everything"

"but it doesn't really mean, like, I'm sure I'm gonna kill a jew.....maybe a hippy though"

It's 2009 and this record still sounds great, fun, and entirely lacking in innovation or excitement. I guess that's the two opinions most people have of this band; derivative and shitty, or forgivably derivative and shitty. I guess a lot of the songs are catchy, mr singer has a cute sounding stoned voice, but that distorted effect gets pretty wearying. And the tempos aren't really fast enough to push what are really very ordinairy, normal songs, into exciting territory. A lot of them are very "ploddy." Also it can be really hard to feel this stuff as anything other than a bunch of very trendy 20 somethings who collect records, and almost plan how to sound hip in the early 00's. There is absolutely nothing intriguing, different or alluring about this band. It's amazing that this stuff sounded almost dangerous in 2001. It did, however, manage to change the direction of highschool fashion; skinny jeans and pointy shoes have made a revolutionary move from university student to highschool kids. That may be the most revolutionary thing about this album. I suppose if there were many many more innovative bands, perhaps painfully innovative and self consciously different, as many were in the late 70's and early 80's, and if we couldn't target the strokes and other bands for stalling this supposedly inevitable rock revolution, (ha!) then these guys might have been praised as quirky romantics, like the only ones, or the modern lovers. As long as they didn't get too famous of course. Hearing this song at every drunk highschool party, dancing to it amongst the killers, britney spears, and the black eyed peas, kind of destroyed the perfect credebility this band seemed to have cultured. Oh and I know it's been said a trillion painful times, but WHY couldn't my generation have it's own youth music, movement? I SUCK. But surely some people with talent could have done something other than regugitate the trendy moments of the past with an incredibly thick layer of irony, and an utter lack of sincerity? I mean at least radio friendly grunge in the 90's was DIFFEREnt, if entirely crap anyway. The breakaway artists in each decade up until I got interested in music were mindblowingly revolutionary, (relative to the strokes anyway).

1. I mean the beatles, the stones, the who, the kinks , bob dylan ..................... the monks, captain beefheart, can, velvet underground.

2, the stooges, the new york dolls, the modern lovers, the saints, radio birdman

3. the ramones, hard core punk, the smiths, the fall, butthole surfers, meat puppets, minutemen, flipper, birthday party, THE CELIBATE RIFLES

4, jesus lizard, big black, the cows,

5. grunge.

6. and today we have; the strokes, the white stripes, lo fi indie revivalists, hard core punk revival, post punk revival, garage rock revival, beach boy rip offs, (fleeet foxes), complete shit, (vampire weekend), and bands desperately trying to break out of this mould of genericism by plundering diverse and obscure artists and mixing them all together into a big pile of shit, (the horrors, some other bands).

7. "innovative" movements such as the unforseen blending of rap, and rock, and the backstreet boys and slayer.

I guess it's all too ridiculous to blame the strokes for a musical travesty like this, but against this backdrop they lose whatever sense of fun they might of conveyed in better times, (not really).

Add your thoughts?

Room On Fire - RCA 2003
Rating = 7


It can't be easy to follow up a debut album as massively popular as Is This It?. Can you imagine the stress that Julian Casablancas must have felt while developing this follow-up, knowing that thousands of anti-hypists were ROOTING for his failure - just so they could congratulate themselves on not falling for the propaganda the first time around? As much as I love the first album, even I couldn't see a way for them to follow up such a simple expression of catchy rock and roll. I figured that the style was perfect - if they altered it, it would no longer be perfect, but if they repeated it, it would be boring the second time. So what was the solution?

Proving himself much smarter than me personally, Julian figured out the ideal way to ensure that Room On Fire would neither disappoint fans nor inspire nogoodnicks to quip, "Is this still it?" What he's done, see, is he's brought back just enough of the Is This It? formula to make the music instantly recognizable as the Strokes (distorted hipster vocals, beautiful guitar tones, hypnotic repetition) while widening his musical universe to encompass interesting new songwriting approaches (a beat-heavy dance song! a pretty ballad!), influences (The Cars! Booker T and the MGs!) and guitar tones/playing styles (including several appearances of a guitar that somehow sounds exactly like a new wave synthesizer). And most importantly - he's written eleven more great little hooks!

I admit that I had a hard time adjusting to the slower tempos at first. After the speedy pop-o-thon of the first album, I suspect a lot of people might encounter the same problem. This is not a nonstop energy rush like Is This It?. It's a collection of inspired and inspiring `60s-flavored guitar songs (of various tempos) with an inordinate amount of truly wonderful "celebration of life" melodies. So you may be thrown for a loopity at first. But give yourself three solid listens to get used to their slightly revised technique and you'll be whistling "Meet Me In The Bathroom" til the day is nigh.

No no, that's a song title.

But if you DO want to meet me in the bathroom, I suppose we could work something out. I've been out of work for quite some time now.

Isn't it interesting how similar unemployment and gayness are?

Ooo! I thought of another way they're similar! When you're unemployed, you often end up doing volunteer work for children, for example PACKING FUDGE. And when you're GAY, heh heh, here comes the really funny part -

Reader Comments
Let me start my review of this record by not reviewing this record. Instead, here's one audiophile's take on three very different, yet very similar bands that have surfaced in the last three years from a little burg known once as New Amsterdam. I hear they call it New York City now. Don't know never been.

If the Strokes have ever been considered followers, this tirade may give them some leverage as being leaders amongst their peers. In 2001, I read more about the Strokes in NME, Melody Maker, The Big Takeover, etc than I ever thought I'd see for a band that, having never heard them play, only existed as a concept for me. Then I bought "Is This It" and played it thirty-three times in five days before I made up my mind that they could count me as a fan. I was able to see them play live within a week of my first listen, and it only added to the joy of the Stroke experience. Now, since I'd nearly burned myself out on the record, I put it away for the most part for a few months. But I still return to it on a regular basis.

In 2002, I started reading about a band called Interpol, who are also from New York City and who also got more press than God before anyone Stateside had access to their actual music. I bought that album and spun it multiple times within the first week of purchase, and knew that I could count myself a fan. And for all the comparisons I heard mentioned between Interpol and their predecessors (Joy Division, The Smiths, early R.E.M., Siouxsie), I found it funny that no one mentioned the similarities they shared with the Strokes. Maybe I'm one of a few who noticed, and maybe the typical fan of one band is not the fan of the other in this case, but a certain sound, specific to the time and geography of these two bands seemed to be emerging.

And, just this summer, I came across a group that goes by the name Longwave, who are admitted friends of the Strokes and have toured together, as well as sharing the RCA imprint on their debut albums. I bought it, spun it many times and've heard this before. And, although the parallels between U2, Radiohead and The Smiths were evident, there was still a Strokesque quality about most of the material on the album. Blatantly so.

Now, in fairness, I haven't seen Interpol or Longwave in a concert setting, so the comparisons may not hold a lot of water on stage for these bands. And the inspiration behind Julian's songs seem to stem from something besides Longwave's rampant desire not to be misunderstood and Interpol's quest for the shadows.

But the fact that "Is This It", "Turn On The Bright Lights" and "The Strangest Things", all made by three totally different sets of musicians, all recorded with different producers in different studios, months apart, could have so many similarities made me realise that there is indeed a new trend developing in the studios. Distorted and/or washed-out lead vocals, dry and/or distorted drums, no fade-outs (a la Wire).

Just like Phil Spector's wall of sound and it's affect on the songs of Motown (and later the Ramones, oddly enough); George Martin's affect on.........well, the Beatles, which affected nearly everyone in the sixties, apparently, and beyond; Tony Visconti and David Bowie's idea for the "gated" snare drum sound that invented so many sub-genres of dance and rock that it's impossible to decipher modern music without that sonic option; Pro-Tools; turntables; all these devices that give the impression of evolution in the world of recorded sound that the songs themselves often fail to offer, on their own mean absolutely nothing. And it seems that many people, including myself sometimes, judge the music more on these things than the actual songs, or the performance.

This, rock and roll, might very well be a celebrity-driven medium at this point, and nothing sells celebrity like a cute face (or ass, in some cases), but I beg all detractors of the Strokes and the other bands mentioned to approach them from a purely musical standpoint. In a way, to look beyond the artifice for the actual art. When I hear the Strokes that way, they give me the impression that while they're aware of their capacities as writers and players, they have a very, very specific goal in mind when it comes time to make an album - to keep it as simple and rewarding as possible.

Like "Is This It", "Room On Fire" adheres to that ethos. There are decorations here and there, but nothing that ever threatens to clutter the songs, which are the most valuable aspect of the rock album, the only aspect that lasts more than the moment. And that's why I like them. The distorted, hand-cupped-around-the-mike vocal, the meticulously treated drums - these are devices, to be sure, and on a couple of ocassions, these devices don't serve some songs ("Under Control", "The Way It Is") as well as others ("You Talk Way Too Much", "Reptilia", "The End Has No End"), but the individual songs themselves, and the overall effect of the album as a whole are undeniable. Theirs is a restrained passion, but it's hard to fuck up a good melody, no matter what the delivery.

I feel that this band has delivered all that one should expect from them as a band - and that is all they are. No saviours of rock, no penultimate teenyboppers, no fabricated "hot new thing". Let the magazines decide that - they don't really understand music anyway, otherwise why would they obsess so much about everything besides the music and the effect that it (without the photographs, the hype, the backlash, the girlfriends, the bullshit) has on the human soul. My soul feels like a million bucks after a Stroke experience.

A slight return to the mention of Interpol and Longwave - while it would be easy for some to lump them together with the Strokes, and any other band that comes from New York with guitars in hand over the next five years, you'd be missing out on a lot of new music with all the passion and ingenuity that's been lacking from modern culture for a few years now. Don't pass it up without giving it a spin.

About the album, the band sounds a little more aware of itself and of the expectations that some might have of them, mostly to fail at repeating whatever was so admirable and charming about their first effort. It bogs them down here and there, but then, it's to be expected - unless they never read/overheard any of their press (which I find unlikely in the age of information), how could they not react to that? So they're not the most confident band in the world. And not the most versatile either - I do wonder what might have come of this record if they'd stuck to their sessions with Nigel Godrich, if they might have branched about more with their arrangements or vocal approaches. Or maybe it would just sound like "Is This It" being played through an Echoplex! But, all the same, the songs have branched out considerably, and the topical matter (the yin-yang of sexual relationships, narcissism, regret) is as believable as the almost Chuck Berry-simple approach to the playing of the songs. And, again, after the haircuts, the camera angles, the hard-ons and the status have all run their course, the songs are the only thing that last.

Here's to rock and roll.............songs
True story: My wife texts me one afternoon and tells me not to buy the new Strokes album because she just pre-ordered it. To be honest, I was more interested in getting (ironically) the Television "Marquee Moon" reissue, even though I already own it, with the justification that it contains the complete "Little Johnny Jewel" version. As it turns out, she was unaware that she had already pre-ordered the album and another website, so now we have two copies of "Room On Fire" plus the "12:51" seven inch. We'll use the extra copy as a Christmas gift, I'm sure, but the story demonstrates how "stoked" my wife was about the idea of a new Strokes release. I should also point out that I think she has a crush on the lead singer in much the same way that Karma J. Mustafa has a thing for typos.

So the only opened copy of "Room On Fire" remains in my wife's CRV for weeks on end and I'm forced to spin the single a few times, enjoying that neat little Cars vibe. But I finally do snag the disc for a few spins and I'll admit that the cynic inside prevented me from lighting a fire under my ass to simply ask the old lady "Can I listen to that new Strokes cd when you're done?"

First impression is that the suits at RCA probably HATED the final product. If the original idea of pairing them with Nigel Godrich (an admirable producer in my mind) had prompted the check writers to ponder The Strokes in a new soundscape, imagine their disappointment in hearing a very UN-major label production that practically mirrors the debut. I'm thankful that it does while at the same time expanding the band's arrangements, albeit at a molecular rate. Word has it that RCA even scoffed at the cover art, which is a nice visual of how the album comes across: dirty retro urban rock straight from the basement of the most influential city on the planet.

Backlash? Fuck you. The reality is that if this was a band from your own backyard, you'd be dying to share them with the rest of us. I could give a shit about the backstage socialites and, if what I've heard is true, even the Velvet Underground were quite the NYC scenesters back in the day. With all the attention thrown at them, I think that a few of the bands mentioned previously (Interpol & Longwave) are pretty fucking appreciative that A&R finally came back to NYC with the intention of examining the local rock scene. And if The Strokes' obvious debt to V.U., Television, etc. turns out to be one of the reasons why you're not buying, then consider the ten thousand other bands aping influences from all the wrong places. The Cars come to mind when I think of The Strokes' success. The Cars used a similar blueprint for their sound and it was met with commercial success. Without them, I'd probably not sought out The Modern Lovers debut and then (in turn) The Velvet Underground. So if The Strokes can manage to turn a few more brave souls onto the Velvet Underground catalog, what's the problem? At least you won't have to wade through The Cars "Shake It Up" to get there.

"Room On Fire" has some obvious standouts and it's no surprise that programmers have latched on to the tunes that strongly resemble ones from the debut. Others do require a few repeated listens and taken as a whole, the sophomore effort does not jump out of the speakers as easily as "Is This It." "Under Control" is a nice example of this: The first few listens had me mocking Julian's "I don't want to waste your time" whines, but after listen number three, it dawned on me that his voice acts as a third rhythm guitar, and rhythm guitars are the beer that made Milwaukee famous. Yes, aspiring rhythm aces, "Rooms On Fire" is a nice album to strum to, so put down your Blues Saraceno training videos and play along to this release.

It's a gut-check album from a band who is level headed enough to understand that rock ain't rocket science. Just finger out a few chords, work on at least a half-hours worth of new material, and let the RCA dog red rocket the shit on the adoring Brit-press (Fuck me, Mojo had the dudes on the cover two month's prior to the taste of "12:51!" No fucking wonder people hate 'em!). It's not their fault that "Random Notes" wasn't around to give us pix of Nico blowing The Lizard King and shame on us all for letting the media mindfuck us all into paying more attention to the band's extracurricular activities than to what they were doing in a NYC rehearsal space. What they emerged with is a nice follow-up without the pretensions everybody seemed to think it would have to navigate through.
What I don't understand is why anyone worries about how much hype The Strokes recieve, and personally, where I live, they are pratically unknown, so I have no idea what hype they're talking about. What it comes down to is the music, and I don't think anybody can deny that these guys are talented. So what if they sound similar to other bands? In the big perspective of things, (which maybe some should begin to see from, instead of being the small-minded assholes they are) everybody is a rip-off of everybody. Rock and roll was a revolutionary thing in the fifties, since then, no one has done anything terribly different.The Strokes are one of many talented groups, so why not appreciate that, instead of disliking them simply because they receive media attention? At least admire the fact that they write their own material, because today, that is rare. For people that have commented on Julian Casablancas' limited range, wtf do you expect? Some guy version of a Mariah Carey singing rock music? I'd like to know how they figure it's "limited". Their sound in general could be compared to many other bands, but thats not the point. The point is, they play good music.

A few comments I found particularily laughable, and I'm going to make fun of them now: Someone said that their sound was weak, and they'd rather listen to Weezer.. WEEZER? How are The Strokes weaker than Weezer? C'mon now.. that Buddy Holly song, wtf is weaker than that, I'd like to know. Certainly not The Strokes. I like Weezer, but they aren't exactly the poster band for strong music. Someone else commented on how "they were trying so hard to look cool", how is this? They don't put much emphasis into videos, etc., for one main reason, they obviously don't care about image! So many explained that they didn't like the band because they were popular, or because everyone else liked them. This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. One last thought... if so many posted how much they depised The Strokes, why were they on a website pertaining to the band? Is it possible they are just that retarded? I think yes.

For all that enjoy The Strokes' music for what it is, and realize that all the media hype, and comparisons don't matter, give yourselves a pat on the back for not being totally narrow-minded, wannabe rebellious, "lets rage against the corporate manufactured world though we don't know what it is" fuck heads. (Jesse Foster)
kimmie, right the fuck on. I find it disturbing that no one even really took the time to discuss the lyrical content. It's been a long time since I've seen a band go big that sings about things that I can relate to personally. All of you haters are at the wrong freakin website. oh, and all of you that said they wouldn't last... Room on Fire. Nuf said. (Vanessa Jeffeson)
First of all, I'd like to say that The Strokes have been rocking my world for the past two months or so. More so in the past 2 weeks because I recently purchased Room On Fire and I cant stop listening to it. I had the great fortune of experiening them live and they literally took my breath away. I haven't heard good live rock music in a very long time.

Unfortunately, we live in the age of "Studio Bands" and "Pop Punk". It's so fucking annoying. Every new rock band sounds the same and they only sound decent in the studio. When The Strokes came along, I believe that they did start something new in this generation. Of course they sound like bands of the past, who doesn't? There is nothing new under the sun. I would never call them the saviours of rock but, I think that they helped open up alot of people to old school rock n roll. I have found myself delving into Rolling Stones and The Cars, why?, because a little band called the strokes that decided to do something different. Personally, I think they wipe their asses with the songs pumped out by all these other bands like Jet and The Whitestripes. I dont know if you would compare the Vines or the Hives, but all of them came out at the same time to me. I like the latter 2.

As for the hype, fuck hype! Hype means nothing. Look at Britney Spears, all she is is hype, but she is doing her job, being an entertainer. She is no artist. These guys are artists to me. It is so simple yet so complex. I think that people that are anti-hype are pretty fucking stupid. If I were in a band I would want millions of people listening to my music. Why not? That's the fuckin point! That's why people tour and have toured for thousands of years. Whether it was to spread a story or play or music. I mean, why dream forever of sending a message across the world? Why be mad at someone who has accomplished that feat? if it were not for hype I probably would not have really known who they were, and frankly wouldnt have cared. Everyone who is anti-hye is just a cliche. It's so cliche to be anti. They are just mad because they aint shit and they cant get a record deal.

Big ups to the Strokes and everything they are doing for music right now. They are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing. They are making awesome records in their genre, they aint Madonna, I don't wanna hear them singing techno on their next album. I don't need extreme versatility from them. If I wanted to hear something different, I'd listen to another fuckin band. I listen to them for their sound and Reptilia is a genius of a song. They also put on a bad ass show and actually sound like the record, wait, I'll correct myself, better than the record. They just have fun and make music. MUSIC!!!!! That's whats important. I cant' wait till we get pass comparisons and just listen to a band for what they are. If they are shit, they are shit. If they rock, then they rock. Music is subjective anyway, it's art. It's all in the eye of the beholder.
No, This album desrves a ten SO much that it's annoying to read how the first one is better. Is This It is an amazing debut, a near masterpiece. almost as good as Nevermind. but it didnt prove to me that the strokes were a truly great band quite on the level of nirvana. this record is a true masterpiece. that new wave-y guitar tone is something new and really cool, and as such, yes, it pops up several times. the vocal distortion makes it seem as if the strokes aren't so happy anymore and are tired of the "poppy" material of the first album. the rockers show the dark side of the strokes, as shown by my second favorite, the blazing, angry "Reptilia". the best is "Under Control", the BEST striokes song of all. allmusic says it, all my friends say it, and i think it is truly brilliant. mainly, the debut was from a cool new indie band from new york. this is from THE STROKES. this is the strokes. strange and captivating. since first impressions of earth sucks, this is the definitive strokes album. best album of 2003.

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First Impressions Of Earth - RCA 2005
Rating = 5

Have you ever heard the expression, "This album stinks"? If so, it's quite possible that you've overheard somebody discussing the third Strokes album, First Impressions Of Earth. But don't let that person bring you down; the funny thing about this new record is that - if my tiny but influential peer review committee is any indication - Strokes haters fuckin' love it every bit as much as Strokes lovers fuckin' hate it. So if the band's goal was not to increase their audience but rather to outright replace it with a new one, they may have quite a successful succeed on their hands!

My deal is this: the appeal of The Strokes for me has always been their unforgettable, singalongable, wonderfully melodic musical and vocal hooks. You'll have to ask former Strokes haters what the strengths of this CD are supposed to be, but 'hookiness' sure as hell isn't one of them. How do I even describe this thing? The songs aren't CATCHY! The guitars are playing fast flickity things or slower minor chords, the drummer's trying to impress you with his busy thump-a-dump lines and everything, and Julian is singing free as a bird without a distortion effect for the first time, but basic midtempo youth guitar song after basic midtempo youth guitar song after basic midtempo youth guitar song goes by and I'm constantly left thinking, "Fuck, this album only has 3 good songs on it!"

Beyond the lack of memorable melody, a lot of the songs simply sound UGLY. The further you get into the disc, the more it sounds like (a) it was recorded directly into a computer and mixed down by a person with no understanding of the terms 'separation' and 'dynamics,' (b) none of the instrumental tones go together at all and the bassist forgot to show up that day, (c) the lead guitar is actually a Casio keyboard with only its highest, most ear-piercing notes being played, and (d) the lead guitarist and drummer really, really want to impress you with how much better they've gotten on their instruments. I'm generally a fan of making music more complicated for the sake of challenging the mind and ear, but The Strokes (like most young bands) aren't technially proficient enough to challenge either of these body parts. Therefore, when the drummer herky-jerks some pointlessly weird drum combination instead of just playing a straight 4/4 beat, or when the guitarist ruins potentially poppy moments by picking away at nerve-rackingly high-pitched and uncatchy triplet note runs (as he does in nearly EVERY FUCKING SONG ON HERE), it doesn't HELP anything. It just makes the uncatchy songs that much more unpleasant to listen to.

Another problem is that all of the songs drag on for about five thousand years after the Birth of Christ. 14 songs in 53 minutes!? That averages out to 742 minutes per song! Do you really have the time to sit through TEN different CDs just to hear the new Strokes album? Most people don't, and the rest are in nursing homes and don't want to hear youth music all day anyway!

Having said that, I love "You Only Live Once," "Heart In A Cage" and "Ask Me Anything," despise "On The Other Side" and "Killing Lies," and find the remaining nine tracks to be a mixture of elements both good (awesome guitar interplay in "Red Light"!) and bad (sickeningly cutesy guitar line in "Razorblade"! Are they trying to make my CD player PUKE!?), resulting in a 14-track CD that is, taken as a whole, simply 'okay.' And for a band as melodically brilliant as The Strokes once were, the term 'okay' is a rather damning appraisal.

And by 'rather damning,' I'm of course referring to Dan Rather burning in Hell for his near-constant sin of on-air goatse.x

Speaking of which, I'd like to share with you an actual true-life conversation that took place on 92nd Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues today between the hours of 4:00 and 5:00 PM.

Father (to his young daughter): "Honey, what kind of bees give milk?"

Young daughter: "BOO-bees!"

Father: "Ha ha ha!"

Me: (*makes horrified expression*)

My Wife: "Well, she's growing up to be a stripper."

Reader Comments
What you say rings true mark; I did hate the Strokes, but I thought this one was pretty good when I had it played to me. Saying that I'll quite probably never listen to it again. I don't get any kind of emotional connection with all these punk/new-wave revivalists (or whatever you'd class this as) I want to hear a bit of suffering for my money. I'm not saying it has to be totally overwrought like nine inch nails or alice in chains, but some suggestion of pain would be welcome. I suggest for their artistic development a hardcore herion addiction, some serious personal tragedy, or IBS

I'll come back in ten years and see if they've made any progress. (Matt)
Bet you ten bucks that this is their last LP. TEN BUCKS.
The first half of this sounds great to me! Then they seem to turn into " The New Strokes" and I turn into " The Disappointed Fan". Cut this bitch in half!
you seem to love criticizing the love to see you try and be half as cool/talented as these guys.

the strokes rock man.

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Angles – RCA/Rough Trade 2011
Rating = 6

The Strokes are back… TO THE FUTURE!!!

In other words, this is a retro ‘80s album, filled with the slick, soulless sounds of The Cars, Men at Work, The Police, Duran Duran, U2, Gary Numan, The Human League and Blah Blah Blah-era Iggy Pop. The guitars are high-pitched and stereophonic, occasionally tangling together into a weird Minus The Bear-style duple-riff, but mostly just playing a couple of simple Television-style things next to each other. Only two songs try to emulate the classic Strokes sound, and neither is particularly good. At this point, the band seems much more comfortable just digging through their record collections and ripping stuff off.

Stuff ripped off (and built upon!) (or, alternately, ruined) includes Men at Work’s “Down Under” (“Machu Picchu”), The Cars’ “My Best Friend’s Girl” (“Two Kinds of Happiness”), any old bombastic U2 chorus (also “Two Kinds of Happiness,” hence the title) and, most obviously of all, Nick Lowe’s “So It Goes” (“Gratisfaction”). And by “most obviously of all,” I of course mean, “I knew it reminded me of something but all I could come up with was Steely Dan’s ‘Reeling in the Years’ until I read the All-Music review, which accurately pointed out that it sounds just like Nick Lowe’s ‘So It Goes’.” (No such luck with the Pitchfork review, which compared it to Thin Lizzy -- presumably based on the “Boys are Back in Town”-esque drumbeat?)

However, the ‘80s nostalgia isn’t the real problem; the robotic new wave “You’re So Right” and New Romantic “Games” are in fact among the record’s most interesting compositions. The real issue is that, like with the last record, there is very little middle ground in terms of quality: every passage is either blissfully compelling or vomit-inducingly repellent. For example, “Macchu Picchu” would be a perfectly tuneful little reggae-pop number, but it’s ruined by pointlessly obnoxious pinched-nose vocals. “Two Kinds of Happiness” slams together two solid pieces of music (Buddy Holly-via-The Cars verse; over-the-top U2 fervor) in such a jarring and unnatural way that it nearly ruins both. Is This It throwback “Under Cover of Darkness” has a catchy chorus, but a verse so cutesy you’ll want to punch it in the face (it sounds like a CKY novelty song!). And the slow drumless “Call Me Back” sounds like the demo for an awkward drug-muddled Bowie/Pop collaboration.

After all this ear trauma, the best songs on the record are probably its last two. The odd chord changes and constant mood shifts of “Metabolism” make it feel like a soul-shattering struggle between light and dark, and the melancholy “Life is Simple in the Moonlight” ends the erratic disc on a gentle and tuneful note. Honestly it’s unfortunate that they didn’t record an additional 40 songs at the end there, because if these songs are any indication they would’ve ruled.

That review wasn’t funny at all, so here are some sexy euphemisms I just made up for ‘penis.’

- Skin Fretless Bass
- Ol’ Impotenty
- Barrel of Urine with a Hole in it
- Microscopic Washington Monument
- Tube of Salt-Flavored Toothpaste
- Gavel That Hurts Really Bad If You Actually Use It As A Gavel
- Virile God-Snake Tower of Masculinity, Wearing a Turtleneck Sweater
- Dad

Reader Comments

Brad Halverson
Yeah, this album isn't very good, which is a shame because it's becoming increasingly obvious that this band has yet to actually live up to its potential for the full course of an album. I still think that if you cut out the cruddy parts of First Impressions, you get half of an amazing album. It has most of their best songs on it, but it also has all of their worst, so... oh yeah Angles. This is about Angles.

Angles is sort of an improvement since there aren't any awful songs on it, but there aren't any great ones either. And even when the band is experimenting, they don't sound inspired at all. And this bugs the crap out of me more than usual because they made this right after Julian Casablancas put out Phrazes For the Young which I love the heck out of to death. You should review it! It was totally under appreciated when it came out, probably due to the fact that it's sort of a dense listen. But underneath the weird production that sounds nostalgic for a time that never existed, you get one of the most engaging and personal pop albums of recent memory. Go listen to it and then knock another point off the score for Angles out of sheer missed potential.

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