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Last Night

The StrokesI saw these guys in Shout magazine a couple of months ago and even read about them in Vice. They have been called the best thing to happen to the New York music scene since the Velvet Underground and I couldn't stop thinking aren't these guys too pretty to really rock. They have the look of a band assembled by some record label big wig hoping to capitalize on their shaggy hair, MTV-ready, boy band mugs. And can they dance? Doubtful. They would probably rather pose.

The comparisons to The Velvet Underground are somewhat apt I suppose since front man (boy rather) and singer Julian Casablanca does at times sound like Lou Reed, but the Strokes are no Velvet Underground. To give credit where its due, I hear they are amazing live, but on record they are undeniably mediocre. There are a couple of catchy pop songs to be found on their debut full length Is This It, but overall the hype about The Strokes is just that, hype.

Maybe it is the tightness of the production that leaves me unimpressed, I always liked the roughness of the Velvet Underground. Lou Reed always sang and played in a way that reeked of booze and New York grime. On Is This It, the vocals are constantly muted and given an unnecessary fish tank quality. And there are no mistakes or rawness on this record. If The Strokes are representative of the New York sound, like I keep hearing, we must be living in a pretty uninspired place right now. The Velvet Underground are respected because they created a sound and a scene that was new. The Strokes do nothing to expand music horizons.

In all fairness, I probably will pop this record in from time to time on the merits of "Someday, "Last Nite," and "The Modern Age," a few admittedly well-written pop tunes. This band could never live up to the hype they have generated, but the nice moments on Is This It show hope for a stronger sophomore outing. Until that happens, I guess I don't get it.

-- Robert Lanham

 


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