friday mixed tape: rock n roll revival

by Hugh

In 2001 a new breed of Velvet Underground-influenced, old-aesthetic rock started rolling out of a few bands. It was old and it was new and it was good again. Here are some of the tunes I remember.

The Strokes: Last Night (2001)
OK, so the Strokes ended up being disappointing. We all wanted them to be gritty kids from the wrong side of the tracks who bashed their guitars together to dull the pain of poverty. Or something. Turns out they’re rich Manhattan kids who went to fancy boarding school in Switzerland, and had drinking problems. Well, what can you do? Who else can afford to be an artist these days? (And for the record, I went to a fancy private school). This video makes things worse: the lead singer, especially, looks like the kind of arrogant prick who continues to be mean to unpopular kids even into his mid-twenties.

And let’s forget for a moment that the Strokes probably exhausted their creativity with that first album. And remember instead what a breath of fresh air it was when it came out, and the sounds of pure, good rock n roll, the likes of which we hadn’t heard since Transformer (maybe), hit the airwaves. It was the rebirth of rock, I was living in New York and it was great stuff.

White Stripes: Fell in Love with a Girl (2001)
While I can’t help feeling the Strokes were somehow phony (even if that first album was and still is a winner), the White Stripes were something else: raw and real and creative in ways hard to believe considering their instruments are limited to a little drum kit, a big guitar, and a crazy voice. Fantastic, challenging yet straight music, wonderful songwriting and a great video by Michel Gondry.

Franz Ferdinand – Take Me Out (2003)
A couple of years later come Franz Ferdinand. I first heard them when they played this tune live on some British awards show: the looked and sounded so sharp, like a mix of the best of ska and good punk (aka Clash), with a new, precise sound to their chops.