It is only fair that my first blog post showcase the Strokes. As indicated by the album artwork of their first album, they are a band that is not afraid to take risks whether it be in producing a considerably lo-fi record or having frontman, Julian Casablancas, step back in order to inspire initiative in his band mates. As indicated by the various different steps they have taken to produce their 4 LPs, the production process is very important to these New York natives. It has been five years since the band has released an album as their last project, First Impressions of Earth, was often critiqued as having been too similar to prior records. Such buzz led the band to take a much needed break as they worked on side projects, and thought to themselves “what next?”
With five years having passed and side projects put on hold, the boys are ready to go as their newest album, Angles, drops on March 21st in the UK and a day later in the US. After reading numerous interviews with the band, blog posts, articles, and watching the various episodes of “Making of Angles,” it seems to me (as I’m sure it does to many others as well) that it is going to be a good one. Not only does it showcase the talents of every member and brings in various new elements, the record will allow us fans to remember why we’ve been listening to the Strokes for the past ten years. The first single off the album, “Under Cover of Darkness,” was released on February 11th. With catchy beats and melodic rhythms, the song will seemingly become an anthem. It is mainstream enough to appeal to the general public while still giving self-proclaimed pretentious music aficionados something to sing along to. Less than a month after its release, “Under Cover of Darkness” has been purchased on ITunes more frequently than “Last Nite,” the song that often first comes to mind when thinking of the band. Shortly after the release of “Under Cover of Darkness,” came “You’re So Right,” a b-side to “Under Cover of Darkness.” Bringing back faint memories of “First Impressions of Earth,” the track has scintillating rhythms and as Julian himself indicated (in an interview with NME), is “a darker one. It counters some of the happy vibes on the other tracks.”
March 5th marked the night that the Strokes would appear on Saturday Night Live. On stage they looked as they always did in their leather jackets, tight pants, long hair, and cutoff tees. Their attitudes were unchanged as they came together as a group and were ready for their long awaited television performance. Having built up the performance a great deal, it is sad for me to admit as a major admirer of Julian Casablancas that his voice did not sound as ‘angelic’ as it usually did to me during “Under Cover of Darkness.” Though there is more to a band than its lead singer, it is hard to ignore the struggles of such a central figure. The rest of the guys were unfazed by there seemingly mediocre performance, but Julian added a Strokes-like kick to his performance with his outburst of “Fuck it” at the end of the song. As the cameras cut back to the Strokes at the end of the show, we were surprised by an unfamiliar guitar opening. Premiering another single on live television was all the band needed to display that they were back. Titled “Life is Simple in the Moonlight,” the song showcases everything we have loved about the Strokes in their previous records. With a beautifully intricate guitar solo from Nick Valensi, multi-faceted lyrics, and Julian’s wide range of vocals, the track proved to be nothing but simple. After “Under Cover of Darkness,” I was worried that the rest of the album may be disappointing as a five year break often brings about high expectations. However, “Life is Simple in the Moonlight” proved that such fear was unwarranted. The Strokes are back and will kick off their tour this Saturday at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas (playing with Devendra Banhart).
“Angles” will drop in a short thirteen days. Needless to say I can’t wait.