Skip to main content

100 Albums: "Is This It" by The Strokes


Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: The Strokes
Title: Is This It (US Version)
Released: 2001
Genre: lo-fi garage rock


The early aughts were a confused time for rock. Grunge had died out, and while nu-metal was everywhere, it wasn't for everyone. There was a pop-rock-shaped hole in the musical discourse for people who liked rock, missed the fun side of alternative, and felt alienated by thrash-rap. Enter New York City's own The Strokes, the band that ushered in the garage rock revival that brought to prominence a whole host of acts name The [plural noun]. Their debut, Is This It was an immediate hit in the UK on its late summer release. It was scheduled to come out in October in the US with different cover art and a last-minute song swap following the September 11 attacks. The song New York City Cops was dropped and replaced with When It's Started.

Is This It has a raw energy to it. It bounces, grooves, and bops along for thirty-six minutes, relying mostly on a simply two-guitar rock formula, occasionally with drums that feel more like a loop than a player. But apart from the metronome drums and the distortion on singer Julian Casablanca's vocals, it's a very stripped down rock record. No synth pads or string sections or those little "ear candy" frills that you don't notice on contemporary rock/pop records until you know about them and then you see them everywhere. (Quick aside: next time you hear a rock song with the word "shaking" in the lyrics, listen to see if it's immediately followed by the sound of a literal shaker.) The standout track is the single Last Nite but the entire thing is listenable pop that sticks in your head.

Further Listening: The Strokes are still around, but I honestly don't listen to any of their other music. The follow-up Room On Fire is solidly meh and while I liked Juice Box from First Impressions Of Earth, it was quite a sonic departure. I haven't really followed them since.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Alexandra Rowland And Bad Faith Accusations

This morning, writing twitter was blown up by a post from Alexandra Rowland accusing Scott Lynch and Elizabeth Bear of some nasty manipulative behavior. I have reason to believe that Rowland is acting in bad faith. Seven or eight years ago, Rowland and I were in the same writing group. I didn't know them well, but we became Facebook friends because that's what you do. At some point after we fell out of contact with each other, they made a post about an affair with an influential older male who had lied about being in an open marriage and proceeded to manipulate and gaslight and emotionally abuse them. I didn't know any of the people involved other than Rowland, but I was affected enough by Rowland’s post that I can still recall reading it all these years later. So when I saw Rowland's blog this morning, I assumed it was the same situation... except the dates weren't right. The Bear/Lynch events took place in 2016, but the post I remembered was older than that. So I

100 Album: "Game Of Thrones Season 3 Soundtrack" by Ramin Djawadi

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the  explainer  or view  the master list . Artist:  Ramin Djawadi Title:   Game Of Thrones, Season 3 Soundtrack Released:  2013 Genre:  DAH duh, duh-duh-DAH duh, duh-duh-DAH duh He's not as big a name as Hans Zimmer or John Williams or the various Newmans out there, but Ramin Djawadi is easily the most interesting composer working in television right now (with due respect to Bear McCreary). Soundtracks, especially television soundtracks because they're produced so quickly, have a tendency to serve more as a wall of atmosphere than anything else. But Djawadi's work here and on Westworld  has generated some amazing musical themes. There's a strong undercurrent of leitmotif informing the way the music flows together and the themes those motifs are built around are damned  catchy--which you know if you got the joke in the genre description above. While all of the soundtracks for GoT  are very listenable, this is m

On Getting Laser Eyes

Last week I got Lasik. I was looking forward to not having to deal with glasses getting smudged by my kids or slipping off my face. I figured that not needing them would be pretty convenient. However, the words I heard over and over from other people who'd already done it were: "life-changing." That seemed to be overstating a bit. Convenient, yes, but life-changing? I didn't get it. I get it now. I've had some kind of vision correction, either glasses or contacts, for the last thirty-odd years, which is nearly as far back as I can remember. And what I hadn't realized was the extent to which this had become part of my identity. It's not that I thought glasses were cool because I wore them--although I did and they are. It's that the ability to see was, for me, artificial and temporary. And my vision was pretty bad, so my natural state was one of... not so much "blindness" as "isolation." There was a layer of vagueness that sat bet