Since it’s now June and we are officially about half-way through 2011, I’d thought I’d take a look at some of the albums that have been released so far. For me, so far the best album is a tie between Fleet Foxes’ Helplessness Blues and My Morning Jacket’s Circuital. What do you think? Any good ones I missed? (And I’m not counting Gaga just for the record.)
I probably would have cared about a new Strokes album in 2004. Maybe 2005. The Strokes captured a party lifestyle, and at the time I could relate to it. While Rolling Stone named Is This It, the number two album of the decade, I actually listened to it last night for the first time in a while, and found it kind of bland and unexciting. It’s a fun album for sure, but that’s about all the praise I’ll give it. I actually prefer Room on Fire, but even that feels dated. The Strokes could have only existed in the early 2000s. Like it or not, The Strokes pretty much ushered in hipster rock as we know it. I could be wrong, but I’m willing to guess only those in Williamsburg really care about a new Strokes album or tour. In retrospect, both Room on Fire and Is This It sound more no different than any of the hundreds of bands they influenced. The Velvet Underground and Stooges of the last decade they are not. I’m not the biggest Jack White fan, but there’s a reason why he can command as much power in the music industry as he does. When the White Stripes came exploded at the same time as The Strokes, The White Stripes could easily be seen as a gimmick. But Jack White has proved himself to be versatile and also a working class musician. Not something that I can see The Strokes doing.
That is unless Albert Hammond Jr writes all the songs. His first solo album. Yours To Keep was a minor masterpiece.
I was just in Baltimore’s Soundgarden (which by the way is one of the best record stores in the Maryland area) and heard one of Julian Casablancas’ new songs from his solo album, Phrazes For The Young. I’m not the biggest fan of the Strokes – I think they had a great debut, but Room on Fire more of a rehash of the same, with a couple of good songs thrown in for good measure. The ones that sounded the best were the ones that didn’t sound like Is This It. I just kind of wrote them off after that. (Although Albert Hammond’s Yours To Keep was pretty good even if it sound like the Strokes.) I just assumed that Casablancas would write another Strokes album with his name replacing the band. Not that far fetched considering he wrote all the songs anyway.
I was actually quite surprised by what I heard. Casablancas has a pretty distinct voice, so it was easy to tell it was him singing, but the music was pretty removed from the garage-rock rivial of the Strokes. Instead of fuzzed out guitars, “The Tourist” was propelled by a drum-loop and that kept pounding, and keyboards. The bridge was pretty interesting as well – containing more keyboards and and synthesizers that sounded like they belonged on a Mega Man Video game. It was quite eerie and catchy at the same time. Not something that I was expecting from Casablancas. I’m interested to hear the rest some point soon, but I ended up buying Elvis Costello’s Secret Profane, and Sugarcane instead only because that was what I came in for.