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October 24, 2003 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-10-24

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10A - The Michigan Daily - Friday, October 24, 2003


salutes the



Strokes shrug off sophomore slump

By Alex Wolsky
Daily Arts Writer
Music REVI EW **
Somewhere in London, at the tail end of
the summer of 1969, Mick Jagger and Keith
Richards were meticulously slaving over the
finishing touches to their latest album, Let it
Bleed. Having been recorded months after
Brian Jones had died, the Stones blasted out
their final straight forward blues-rock
album, it is laced with
sporadic hints as to T
what lie in the band's The Strokes
future. Room on Fire
Jones had been argu- RCA
ing with Jagger and
Richards for years to incorporate other
influences into the Stones' music, much like
the Beatles were doing at the time, disap-
pointed that the band reverted back to its
roots time and time again. However, Let It
Bleed proved to be a sign that Jones' influ-
ence had not gone unnoticed: The album
showed signs of the band cutting new sonic
territory while still keeping close to the
sound that had previously defined them.
Somewhere in New York, at the tail end
of the summer of 2003, Julian Casablancas
mirrored Jagger and Richards' persistence
to detail and scrupulous attention to mixing
as he put the finishing touches on his band's
latest release, Room on Fire. A renowned
perfectionist, Casablancas worked many
sleepless nights'Tine-tuning songs to ensure
a product that would live up to his own

strict standards.
In 2001, the band received mass praise
from the British press and drew compari-
son's to fellow New Yorkers Television and
the Velvet Underground with their debut Is
This It. The record proved to be one of the
best of the year and stands as one of the
most impressive debuts in recent memory.
This time around, the Strokes stay true to
those roots, adding elements of the late
1970s New York punk movement and new
wavers the Cars, most notably on the sin-
gle "12:51."
At first glance, Room on Fire sounds like
nothing new for the Strokes. A blend of duel-
ing guitars driven by Nikolai Fraiture's rhyth-
mic bass lines and Fabrizio Moretti's pin
point percussion guide every track. However,
this time around we witness the beginnings
of the band sonically diversifying.
From the opening seconds of "What Ever
Happened," the band harbors a faster, louder
sound that hangs on an invisible ledge,
preparing to plunge before it's usurped by
the distorted "Reptilia."
The freshest aspect of the album is the
experimentation of guitarist Nick Valensi
with bolder, more pronounced tones. After
reportedly blowing out multiple amplifiers
attempting to get the right sound, he was
finally able to pin point the correct timbre
he was looking for. Sounding like a video
game on speed, it's displayed primarily on
three tracks, "Meet Me in the Bathroom,"
"Automatic Stop" and "12:51" This experi-
mentation is the main divergence from Is
This It? and displays the band's prowess for

incorporating their influences.
Underneath it all, Casablancas continues
to prove he's a misanthrope. He bellows in a
raspy, washed out voice "I want to be for-
gotten / and I don't want to be reminded"
while reflecting on a failed relationship in
"What Ever Happened."
As the guitars of Albert Hammond Jr.
and Valensi growl, he cries, "You talk way
too much / it's only the end," and in
"Between Love and Hate" his words
bounce as he proclaims, "I never needed
anybody/ I never needed nobody / it won't
change now."
Julian Casablancas encapsulates Room on
Fire on the track "Reptilia" stating, "Please
don't slow me down/ if I'm going too fast."
The Strokes have found something special
in their sound and to change it would be a
mistake, though showing no progress at all
could prove even worse. Room on Fire does
nothing more than build upon the very
foundations of Is This It, but as many bands
before them have proven, sometimes minor
alterations are more powerful than radical
The music world is at a critical point,
much like it was 30 years ago when artists
were dealing with the task of changing the
sonic landscape of the early 1970s. The
Rolling Stones stuck to the sound that made
them great, barely hinting at the notion of
one day changing, and they created one of
the greatest rock albums ever. And like Let
it Bleed before it, Room on Fire shows a
band coming into their own while making a
once perfected sound new again.


Casablancas stands tall In front of a sold out
crowd in Detroit.




cigarette butts and blown amplifiers
The Motor City's burning when NY's finest take the stage


By Scott Serilla
Daily Arts Editor

The Strokes were tired the last
time they played Detroit. Tired and
hung over.
The New York City garage quintet
was as taut and electric as ever when
they opened for the White Stripes at
Chene Park in August, 2001. By
then, months of incessantly hyping
their debut, Is This It, had taken their
toll on the battered crew.
Frontman Julian Casablancas was
laid up with a broken leg and con-
fined to tentatively perching on a
stool the whole set, dropping his mic

in the middle of debuting "Meet Me
in the Bathroom." Everybody else in
the band pulsed with the weary,
third-wind energy of zombies who
hadn't slept in
days. Still even on The Strokes
autopilot, the ThursdayOct.161
band's skin-tight Atthe state
minimalism Theatre
rocked with the
offhand confidence of guys who
have been on road for almost a year.
Last week at the State Theatre, the
Strokes were a different band. Well
rested and hungry to play, the shag-
gy-haired group looked lean and
more than ready to start ripping
through their new album, Room on

Opening act, Nashville's Kings of
Leon shrugged off the unfair rap
they've been getting as the Southern
Strokes. While their Dixie-fried rock
was needlessly abbreviated, the
Kings certainly left you wanting
more, capping off with the best song
on their Youth and Young Manhood,
the surging build of "Trani."
The crowd, a healthy mix of D-
town hipsters, college kids and 20-
something professionals, were eager
as well as anxious to get a live pre-
view of the new Strokes material
before it hits stores. They were treat-
ed to all but one of Rooms' tracks,
beginning with the brooding
"Between Love and Hate."
Julian in particular seemed to be in

a good mood that night, even finding
time to smile when he wasn't pressing
his mic deep into his face, slamming
his stand into floor and leaping into
the crowd during "Hard to Explain"
and "Take It or Leave It." Although
he had previously shunned the lime-
light, Jules seemed more comfortable
with being both the leader and focus
on stage.
Meanwhile, the band seemed
determined to showcase how much
its chops have grown. The new songs
bled sharper, more complex musi-
cianship, in contrast to the rudimen-
tary sucker punch of the first LP.
Guitarists Nick Valensi and Albert
Hammond, Jr. still trade off melt-
your-ears solos, and refined tonal

quality that speaks to road-tested
proficience. While bassist Nikolai
Fraiture seemed content to stand as
motionless as an Entwistle-anchor,
drummer Fab Moretti banged away
with glee, filling in the end of "Rep-
tilia" with a thumping climax.
The show almost climaxes too
early with the stamping back to back
to back trilogy of "Modern Age,"
new single "12:15" and exiled clas-
sic "New York City Cops," which
surprised everybody, including the
Strokes, by rivaling "Last Nite" in
cheers. Perhaps even more surprising
was a rare encore. "We never do
this," said Casablanca, "But you guys
were great."
Likewise, fellas.

Casablancas leans In.

The Modern Age: New York's next wave

The Strokes' widespread success has
brought the music industry spotlight
back on NYC. Daily Arts profiles seven
of the city's most promising bands.
A vicious, inspired redux of so many
early-'80s punk bands, Interpol sounds
lie Jov Division on asteadv diet of

Towers Were Hollow and Filled With
Candy So We Knocked Them Over."
The Rapture
The shameless, spastic dance to the
Strokes' cross-armed cool, the Rapture
rock acid-punk guitars and shout-out
vocals over showy beats. Not quite Glo-
ria Gavnor, but not auite not Gloria

wallet. Turn off the bright lights.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Lead singer Karen 0 brings the head-
lines with her fishnet fashions, but it's
her band's combination of surf and punk
that keeps the critics fawning and the
heads nodding. Their live show, a sloppy,
frenetic attack of alcohol and charisma,



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