I wrote some fawning stuff about The Strokes a couple of years back, and I think it’s fair to say that my regulars weren’t completely on my side. Indeed, some of the comments left behind contained two of the most scathing but wonderfully worded criticisms of anything that’s appeared on this blog all these years:-

“I never understood the fuss….it just sounded to me as they couldn’t be arsed. I thought they sounded like a low-rent Television’ : The Robster

“The Strokes always sounded like and came off as superficial to me. 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” : Echorich

I’ll stand by my original views, namely that they were a very welcome breath of fresh air back in 2001. I was so sure I would never again get overly excited by thin young men and their electric guitars, but my first exposure to Hard To Explain changed all of that. It was, without question, a throwback to the post-punk/new wave era and it did pay its dues to NYC bands from that era, but it also managed to infuse something of the British pop ideals which made it immediately more accessible and radio-friendly than most. It wasn’t really their fault that they all looked as if they could have equally been at ease on a catwalk.

Hard To Explain was a killer debut 45. The follow-ups which also featured on the debut album – Last Nite and Someday – were every bit as good. It was that very rare instance of a new act being loved by the critics and selling the product to millions of fans.  Oh and the b-side wasn’t too shabby either.

mp3 : The Strokes – Hard To Explain
mp3 : The Strokes – New York City Cops



Got to give The Observer a fair bit of credit for this as when it appeared in late 2003, The Strokes were one of the hottest acts in the UK.

It was there to promote the release of the band’s second LP Room On Fire and the five tracks were:-

mp3 : The Strokes – When It Started
mp3 : The Strokes – New York City Cops (live in Iceland 2002)
mp3 : The Strokes – Last Nite (original demo)
mp3 : The Strokes – Meet Me In The Bathroom (Home Recording)
mp3 : The Strokes – 12:51

The first track was a b-side to Last Nite while the last track was taken from the album the sampler was promoting.

I think the paper cost £1.50 at the time so picking it up for the three otherwise unavailable tracks was worth it.



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