The Strokes – Last Nite
I remember it like it was yesterday. Britpop was officially dead, and anyone that liked guitar music was, like me, scrabbling around through the ashes for any embers worth saving to see if they could catch fire. Unfortunately, most guitar bands I had been following had grown up into stadium fillers, releasing albums full of songs designed to be sung by 30,000 people with their lighters in the air. I was looking for something new. Something fresh. What I found sounded like it had been locked in an attic for 30 years, waiting to be released upon the unsuspecting public.
I remember it so well as it was a time when I still listened to Radio 1 and, in particular, Zane Lowe’s show. As annoying as he is, coming across as if he is as English as bacon sarnies yet always betrayed by his effervescent New Zealand accent, he often punctuated his random rants and in-jokes show with new and interesting music. It was late; I was working. As I trawled through more dry and dull educational psychology my senses were alerted to the song playing quietly on the radio. Due entirely to the production, the voice and those guitars I immediately thought, ‘Well, there’s another band I need to go back and look at.’ I was instantly dismissive because I never really followed up the whole ‘Check out their back catalogue’ scene, and my life is probably the poorer for it but to me it always smacked of musical elitism. Before I knew it, I would be listening to something at a party and comment that ‘The B side from 1973 is amazing’. I didn’t want to end up like someone I had always wanted to punch.
After dismissing (!) the song as something from the past, I continued working and it was only a day or so later that it was played in the daytime on Radio 1. It was only then that I realised that it was something new, something fresh. After the first proper listen I was hooked. The urgent yet altogether jangly guitar dragged me in. I had been used to jangly (see the Kooks) but this was different – it wasn’t contrived – it was like they were bashing their guitars in wanton abandonment. Add to that Julian’s slurring and often off-key vocals, the chugging bass and the general energy of the song and I was hooked. The album, purchased a day or so later, delivered everything that the single promised – and more. I only wish I had been 18 when it was released. It could’ve been the soundtrack to my generation. Nevermind, I had The Farm and I’ve never quite stepped off my Groovy Train.