A song for today #29: The Strokes


Strange to think it’s now 15 years since The Strokes appeared. Back in 2001 they had an impact on not only the NME scene but also on the charts, making an impact with their debut Is This It.

Whilst other guitar bands that came in their wake may have reached greater commercial heights – Kings of Leon and White Stripes – The Strokes still have a big fan base, deservedly so, on the basis of their first new track for three years ‘Oblivius.’

It’s the lead track on their new EP Future Present Past, which as well as ‘Oblivius’ also includes ‘Drag Queen’ and “Threat of Joy’, plus a remix of ‘Oblivius’ by the band’s Fab Moretti.

More details on ordering the EP, which will be released on June 3, can be found here

Album Review:Strokes


Strokes -‘Comedown Machine’ (Rough Trade)

There’s a popular school of thought that says that The Strokes’ first album was their best, and that it has been a diminishing set of returns ever since. It isn’t, however, one I would subscribe to. I personally hold their sophomore album Room On Fire to be their best (yes, I know I’m in the minority. Like, whatever.) Even First Impressions Of Earth had some excellent tracks. But the solo projects and the fourth album Angles left me cold.

So, it’s actually rather great to be able to report that their fifth album sees the band sounding better and more refreshed than they have done in, well, pretty much a decade. There’s an eighties and electro feel to this record, right from the opening ‘Tap Out.’ And it holds its way pretty much through the album which includes other awesome songs like ‘Happy Ending’ and ‘One Way trigger’ . An

I say pretty much, because I’m really not sure about album closer ‘Call It Fate, Call It Karma’ which seems to be from a completely different album, one where hipsters try to recreate a 70s stoner album. No matter. It’s great to hear them sounding like they want to be together. Twelve years on from their debut, Julain Casablancas and the gang show that the faith invested in them all those years ago was justified.


Comedown Machine is out now on Rough Trade.

Some covers for Friday


As you will doubtless be aware, this year marks twenty years since Nirvana’s Nevermind was released, challenging forever people’s perceptions of what would get played on daytime radio, and ten years since Strokes’ Is This It? updated indie for the twenty-first century.

While not my favourite albums of those respective years necessarily (I’d plump for Massive Attack’s Blue Lines and Low’s Things We Lost In The Fire), there’s no doubt that they’re awesome records.

Spin magazine in the US have put a free download album together called Newermind, which features thirteen artists paying tribute to Nevermind by covering a song from the album in turn. The album features contributions from Cobain faves like the Meat Puppets and The Vaselines, as well as newer acts like EMA.

Go here to download

Meanwhile, Stereogum have put together a tribute to Is This It? featuring cover versions from Peter, Bjorn and John and Owen Pallett, amongst others.

Download here

Finally, a cover version of Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back To Black’ will be released by Ronnie Spector. Out next week, proceeds go to Daytop Village Alcohol & Drug Abuse Charity. Go here to , er, hear it.

Album Review – The Strokes


The Strokes – ‘Angles.’ (Rough Trade)

When The Strokes appeared in 2001, they seemed like a breath of fresh air. In the post-Britpop doldrums, indie had largely gone back underground, and we needed a band we could fall in love with again. The Strokes not only looked cool (which, less face it, we were never going to say about Travis or the Stereophonics, were we?) but they sounded coo as well. They kickstarted a new wave of interest in bands, and before you knew it, America had given us the White Stripes (a couple of albums old, but only on import in the UK) and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, too. The band’s debut Is This It? might not have been the best album of that year, but boy, did it signify a seachange.

As a result of that debut album, the second and third albums got a lot of coverage too, and even the frankly awful solo projects that came along as well. This album has not been five years in the making, but it has been five years since First Impressions Of Earth. Stories have circulated about difficult recording sessions, whispers that all was not well. As indie is (supposedly) in the doldrums once more, how do the Strokes measure up ten years after their debut?

The first three tracks on the album, ‘Machu Icchu’ ‘Under Cover Of Darkness’ and ‘Two Kinds Of Happiness’ are all great, and join the canyon of wonderful Strokes songs. Unfortunately, from here on in, it’s the Strokes by numbers. Of course, the Strokes by numbers is better thah many other bands by numbers, but it’s still a little frustrating. ‘Metabolism’ sees them threatening to go metal, which they’ve threatened to do in the past and – with the exception of ‘Heart In A Cage’ _ wiah they would not do.

In essence, then, it’s a solid enough album, and certainly better than the solo projects that the band members fositered upon us in the interim. The problem remains that because they hit such a high with the first album, ultimately this is something of an anticlimax.


Angles is out now on Rough Trade.

Stream Angles here

Strokes – Last Nite part.2?

strokes under cover of darkness

OK, so it isn’t, it’s the song that they released for free (for forty-eight hours!!) last month – ‘Under Cover Of Darkness.’

And when I say ‘Last Nite’ part 2, it’s because it feels not that they’re repeating themselves, but have rediscovered why they were so great in the first place. The Strokes’ Angles will be out in just three weeks time, and whilst I still live in hope that someone lovely at Rough Trade will send me a promo, I’m really impressed with what I’m hearing so far.

…and that’s particularly considering I wasn’t blown away by their last album or some of the solo projects since then. Sure, the album may have had a painful birth, but I’m actually upbeat about this record.

The video for ‘Under Cover Of Darkness’ is kinda Kubrickesque (minus any corridors of blood or scary twin girls, that I can see any way):

Meanwhile, they’re also previewing another track from Angles entitled ‘You’re So Right.’

What do you think?

The return of The Strokes


Five years since their last album, the Strokes are set to return with their fourth album Angles on March 21 (22 if you live in the US).

As of yesterday, they have made one track ‘Under Cover Of Darkness’ available to download for free and you can do it from their website here. Having played this several times today, it does indeed seem to be classic strokes, in fact (and I mean this as a compliment) it might even be ‘Last Nite’ part 2. It will be released as a special 7″ in time for Record Store day in April.

Debate rages on about the merits of their previous albums…and indeed the merits of some of the solo releases in the last five years. Worry no more. On this evidence, the Strokes might well have discovered what made them good in the first place.

The tracklisting for Angles is as follows:

1. Machu Picchu
2. Under Cover of Darkness
3. Two Kinds of Happiness
4. You’re So Right
5. Taken For A Fool
6. Games
7. Call Me Back
8. Gratisfaction
9. Metabolism
10. Life Is Simple In The Moonlight