Saturday, October 16, 2010

367- Is this it? We've come here to save Rock and Roll.

Is this it?
Artist: The Strokes
Year: 2001
Genre: Rock


1. Is This It
2. The Modern Age
3. Soma
4. Barely Legal
5. Someday
6. Alone, Together
7. Last Nite
8. Hard to Explain
9. New York City Cops
10. Trying Your Luck
11. Take It or Leave It

Every year someone writing somewhere will pronounce Rock and Roll dead. At the same exact same moment someone else will have have found Rock's saviour. In it's half-century on earth Rock has died and been brought back to life more times than Michael Myers and Jason Voorhoeves combined. Messiah's have lined up to save Rock from death and frequently watched their own careers die instead. Not many bands have burst onto the scene, revived rock and then managed to live through the critical backlash that anyone with overnight success brings upon themselves if they're selfish enough not to overdose or suicide before they enter the studio again.

The Strokes are a rare entity indeed. They released a debut album which the critics adored and couldn't get enough of. Unlike many critical darlings they managed to convert the lines of oozing praise into record and ticket sales. Instead of pratting about the world stage telling everyone they were the greatest things since the Beatles, The Strokes managed to preserve their appeal through the inevitable round of TV appearances and became heroes in England and America, which is a pretty impressive trick. Their concerts were well attended and popular and while follow-up albums never hit the heights of their debut they were still well received and never tried to repeat themselves or (worse) move in a completely new direction ("Our new album is an attempt to play Jazz fusion on traditional folk instruments")

The real test of the popularity of Is This It is listening to it ten years after it's release. Critics are still putting it on their best-of lists today. When Rolling Stone magazine decided to sum up the greatest albums of the 00's only Radiohead's Kid A could top it. There's been no backlash and the cross that the press erected to crucify the Strokes on remains empty and unused. I have to confess that I had never heard this album before I came to give it a listen earlier this week. I know for some that seems remarkeable. How can someone who claims to listen to music obsessively not hear the 2nd greatest album of the last decade? In my defence I was living in England when it was released and so I avoided listening to radio whenever possible. Australian radio is pretty bad but it's a breath of audio fresh air compared to what pours out of the UK airwaves.

So what did I think of Is This It? Well I have to say it picked up dramatically after the first song. The album opens with the title track which is the only slower song the band attempt. It's not really that inspiring it has to be said and while it was annoying on a first listen it actually became more tedious the more I heard. From track two onwards however the Strokes really won me over. They play what some people call pop-punk and they play it really well. Riffs, hooks, solos and beats make for a really great listen and you can imagine a pub full of punters going off in a big way.

If you somehow avoided This is it then can I take them time to tell you that it really is it. It's fresh and exciting rock and roll and proof that Rock isn't dead and will never die.

Influenced by: Music classes. Apparently they actually took music classes.
Influenced: Most bands with any kind of Indy street cred.

Highlight: The Modern Age
Lowlight: Is this it

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "to all those that appreciate talented musicians, skills, creativity, and SOUL, dont' buy this crap. i borrowed this cd from a friend due to the hype!like i said, this is not rock. listen to JIMI HENDRIX, steve vai, joe satrianni, yngwie malmsteen, tony mcalpine, led zepplin, etc."

-There's no doubt quoting Yngwie Malmsteen in your list of preferable alternatives immediately reduces your credibility level.

1 comment:

  1. I feel, for some reason, that this album is way too hyped up. I only heard some samples, and have one song on my iTunes that I can recall the name of, but I keep hearing that this is *the* rock album, *the* pop album (?!) of the decade.

    I like to think of myself as musically open-minded (don't we all?). Maybe its just the samples I heard. Maybe it's all the unbelievable amount of hype. But what I heard is far from great.

    I dunno. It was... unpleasant. Perhaps I should give it another listen, or perhaps buy (!!) the CD itself before I can really judge.