It’s 2001…….I’m 38 years of age.

I’m sure I’ve heard it all before. There’s just no way I’m ever going to get overly-excited by a group of young men playing guitars and singing about life as an early-20 something. Especially when it’s going to be from an American point of view that I just won’t be able to relate to.

That was until I actually listened to The Strokes.

Hyped beyond belief by what remained of the UK music press, I was certain this would be another fad that would quickly come and go. Rough and ready guitar music really had no place in the shiny new post-millennium era. Looking back was not the way forward.

I honestly can’t remember when I first heard them. I doubt it was on the radio as I had more or less given up on that medium by then. I’m guessing it would have been on MTV….I had not long finally against my better judgement invested in a satellite dish, mainly to keep up with all the sport that was no longer on free-to-air terrestrial telly. There were only a handful of music channels at the time, but one of them was MTV2 which was geared towards the indie/metal genres with a fine mix of the old and the new. But anyways, the single Hard To Explain really made me sit up and take notice.

It was a throwback to the 80s but in a way that managed to sound fresh. It was a mix of the best of the British guitar bands with their American counterparts. It was infectiously catchy and danceable. But maybe it was just a one-off I thought to myself….

A few weeks later the debut LP Is This It came out. The critical reviews were unanimously fawning. By now, MTV was airing other footage and songs beyond the debut single….it all sounded tremendous. And hey…. there was the bonus of Mrs Villain loving them as well….especially after she saw them on-screen and decided there and then she wanted to shag them all despite being old enough to be their mum…

The LP was everything I hoped for and more. Not too long after, we caught them live a wee bit down the bill at an outdoor festival in Glasgow and they put on a cracking show in circumstances where not all that many folk were there to see them. Not long afterwards they came back to the city to play the famous Barrowlands. It turned out to be a very fine and sweaty night with the band showing there was no studio trickery involved as they belted out every song they had recorded up to that point. OK, it made for one of the shortest head-lining sets I’ve ever been at, but rather that than they padded things out with meaningless noodling/solos or disappointing cover versions.

Said debut album would find a place hign up on any list I was compiling of great indie/pop guitar albums and/or debut LPs.

mp3 : The Strokes – Hard To Explain
mp3 : The Strokes – The Modern Age
mp3 : The Strokes – Last Nite

Just a pity they never really reached those heights consistently ever again although I would argue that this 2004 single from the follow-up album Room On Fire is their finest indie-pop by numbers moment all told:-

mp3 : The Strokes – Reptilia

The b-side made available on this release features lead singer Julian Casablancas dueting with a weird and wacky American songstress:-

mp3 : Regina Spektor and The Strokes – Modern Girls and Old Fashioned Men



  1. Have to say I never understood the fuss about the Strokes. Still don’t if I’m honest. It just sounded to me like they couldn’t be arsed. I thought they sounded like a low-rent Television. Mind, I had discovered the White Stripes around the same time who were repeatedly blowing me away. Everything else sounded lame in comparison.

    It’s not that I dislike the Strokes – they’ve made some great songs – but I can’t get excited about them at all.

  2. I’m with both of you here
    I still consider them a “new” band – it’s an age thing JC!
    Robster – you’re last sentence sums up my feelings as well
    I don’t think the hype helped.
    Anyone would struggle to live up to that although they initially made a pretty decent fist of it
    Wonder how may of us still listen to them even semi-regularly. I know I don’t

  3. I think they are a brilliant band. Deserving of the fuss and attention. I still listen to them on a regular basis and would happily buy anything they release. Swc.

  4. I loved the singles – they seemed perfect and yeah i listened to them over and over again… they seemed to have it all – the b-sides were great too… BUT i felt cheated by their debut album – 7 of the 11 tracks had already been released so i can never say that it’s a great album – all the best stuff had come out as singles…

    makes me think about your Suede entry a while ago – how they had great singles, great b-sides and a great debut (that didn’t feature the b-sides) – the smiths did this too…

    and they never made anything anywhere near as good as that first ‘Modern Age’ ep…

  5. I’m sure a lot of it is a Yank who is still over awed by all things British thing, but The Strokes always sounded like and came off as superficial to me. The hype was also like a lead weight around the music. I never got passed their critics darling status. I’m grounded in a love of all things Downtown NYC since I was a teen – VU, Television, The Dolls, Talking Heads, Ramones, having grown up with it. The Strokes were always like a Fashion Magazine update of the scene and lacked the gravitas.

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