Sunday, March 13, 2011

Still Strokin' It

This past July I had the opportunity to see the Strokes play for the third time in my life. It was in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and the set consisted entirely of their back catalogue, no hints at any of the new material. What I saw on stage though was promising, they seemed to be having fun and, more importantly, they sounded better than ever. I met Julian after the show, suppressing fan-boy urges I tried my darnedest to play it cool and told him earnestly that I eagerly awaited the release of their next record. The "conversation" went something, if not exactly, like this. Oh and I should tell you first that we were waiting in line for toilets, he went into a locked V.I.P. porto-potty and I caught him on the way out. I should also add that he was very pleasant and happy to talk to me...

LL: Hey that was great.
JC: Thanks.
LL: Yeah it sounded great. You guys looked and sounded like you were really having fun.
JC: I'm glad you believed the illusion.
LL: ...
JC: I have this key to the porto john, I don't know who to give it to though.
LL: Oh that's okay I'll just wait for the regular one, I don't know if I can do a V.I.Pee pee.
JC: ...
LL: Nice meeting you man, have a good night.
JC: You too, thanks!

I have to admit when they finally flung the first taste of new material our way with "Under Cover of Darkness" I was disappointed. A band I've loved since I was 16, I hung on their every word and bended string, but what I heard was a watered down, vacant, sterile Strokes. I subsequently lowered my standards for the rest of

Skip ahead a few weeks to this evening as I lay in bed searching the internet for any leaked copies (don't steal music - I will certainly be buying a copy of the LP next week when it is officially released). Well let's just say I wasn't laying very long. I was absolutely delighted. I heard a band embracing everything they'd hinted at over the past ten years. Welcoming slick rock sounds with strong leanings on 80s fun. I heard Queen, I heard the Cars, I heard Tom Petty and Blondie and I heard something entirely new. This is a fun, rejuvenated and ambitious Strokes. They're using synths. They're doubling, tripling, even quadrupling vocals. Julian is experimenting and pushing the boundaries of the music even further at times than he did with his solo effort (which I enjoyed) but one thing is for sure: these guys function best when they're all together.

Anyways, I hate record reviews and I didn't want to write one. I just wanted to gush a bit about one of my favourite bands releasing something new that I am genuinely excited to listen to over and over and over again.

Go listen.



  1. Okay, shut up (I mean that in the good, Valley girl-flavored, sounds-mean-but-it's-not-quite sense). You're hilarious. The title. That conversation. That is how I imagine any conversation of mine would go with anyone I remotely admire. This list of people includes my mom, and, yes, the scenario is still being imagined. You did well. That's perfect. I wouldn't even be able to use my words.

    ANYWAY-- my opinion that doesn't really matter is as follows: I was all giddy when I found myself sitting up in bed last night at, like, 2AM, staring Julian right in his beady, twitter eyes. Angles. Streaming Now. Immediately click hyperlink. I was overtaken by squirminess right before clicking play, though, because I think I was nervous. Cursor hovering over play, I thought of Under Cover of Darkness and was reminded of that sort of hollow feeling I got when I first heard it with my ears pressed against the speakers of my radio (Yeah, the radio. The internet imploded that day). What if I was let down by the entire album, what if I had been OVER HYPING Angles to anyone who would listen, etc. I liked the double tracked vocals on the single, but it did sound watery, you're right, and I was underwhelmed by it. Plus, when it came around, I laughed throughout the music video as well, and I didn't think that was a good sign.

    I shook my temporary fear and listened, though. A few times. I feel good about it. I don't feel painstaking joy in the depths of my cold heart-- other music has affected me more profoundly-- but I am happy. The album feels right because The Strokes are doing what they do best-- they're doing what the fuck they want. So it's ten tracks. So it's five years later than a million people would want. So it's not a record full of Somedays or Last Nites. They didn't submit to anybody, they did what they want. That's what I love them for, so I feel happy about it.

    ANYWAY. I just WROTE WAY TOO MUCH OF WHAT YOU SAID YOU HATED, BASICALLY. Imagine I'm apologizing in equal length. It's just pent up luvin' I needed to express. I imagine I'm getting plenty of eye rolls, so I'm going to go download your new playlist and stop talking about things for a few days, bye.

  2. Oh my god, seriously. Sorry. Too long.

  3. No eye rolls, at all! Don't feel bad. It was a nice read. Both the comment and the blog post, I mean.

  4. JC: I have this key to the porto john, I don't know who to give it to though.
    LL: Oh that's okay I'll just wait for the regular one, I don't know if I can do a V.I.Pee pee.
    JC: ...

    btw, the strokes have uploaded the album for a free listen here ;)

  5. (Thanks, Teri! That's very nice of you to say.)