Album Review: ‘Is This It’ by The Strokes

Is This It was one of the first records I ever bought. Even back then–nearly ten years ago–the album had already earned its place in rock ‘n’ roll’s pantheon. Like the “classic” records it nods to, there isn’t any other way to consume it: Is This It was made for wax.

Maybe it’s because The Strokes arrived before the social media era, or because I was just a teenager in Wisconsin at the time, but, on its debut, the band felt fully-formed. From the downwinding tape that kicks off the title track to Julian Casablancas’ closing howls on “Take It or Leave It,” Is This It emanates effortlessness, self-assurance and, in a way, perfection.

Of course, Is This It is basically the work of a classically trained musician (Casablancas) hell-bent on rehearsing and rehashing his favorite garage and rock records until he’s achieved said perfection. “Rock ‘n’ roll” is supposed to be unrehearsed and raw, and this record is technically anything but. Somehow, though, the Strokes pulled it off, releasing a nearly-untouchable, instant-classic debut.

We all know what happened next: For the Strokes, Is This It was it. But, when your biggest hit blatantly rips off Tom Petty and he responds by inviting you to tour with him, you can really only go downhill from there.

Last Call: Your Murfie Week in Review

 

Monday
7/14

[Twitter] We remembered the great Woody Guthrie on his birthday.

[Twitter] We recommended Murfie as the best way to rip your CD collection in lossless format.

Tuesday
7/15

[Blog] Grant talked about songs that can easily get stuck in your head.

Wednesday
7/16

[Blog] Andrew talked about the top 5 albums of 2014 (so far).

[Website] We ran another round of Wishy Wednesday, where you can update your Wishlist for a chance of getting a wish fulfilled.

[Blog] We previewed La Roux’s new electronic synth pop album Trouble in Paradise.

Thursday
7/17

[Blog] We previewed a fresh new album called Heaven & Earth by the successful prog rock band Yes.

[Twitter] We received a crate from Korea! What do you think it could it be?

Friday
7/18

[Blog] Andrew recommended a few bands to fans of The Strokes.


 

You Just Might Like: The Strokes

The Strokes are arguably the most influential band of my generation. When the five-piece dropped their first demos in early 2001, the world collectively crapped their pants. And the obsession only grew from there.

Is This ItThe Strokes released Is This It,  a masterful 40 minutes of rock, later that year. The album sounds like the culmination of five kids practicing all day, every day—and that’s essentially what it is. Front to back, there are few records that simply play as well as this one does. Everything about it, from the hooks to the drums to the vocals, sounds effortlessly done. Forget best debuts of all time, this is one of the best albums of all time.

Of course, The Strokes were then improperly heralded as the saviors of rock ‘n’ roll and everything has sort of collapsed around them since. Their follow up, Room on Fire, is a fantastic record. But sometimes hype can wash out everything else, and everything the band has released since has seemed, well, washed out.

The Strokes were not only influential to peers (Arctic Monkeys to Franz Ferdinand to The Stills), but to a whole slew of other bands that followed.

Here are a few you just might like.

The WalkBows + Arrowsmen:

The Walkmen are another band that hails from New York, though they haven’t lived there in nearly half a decade. Their brand of rock comes packaged with a little more angst and regret than The Strokes, but they share a fan base all the same. Unlike The Strokes, The Walkmen have aged with grace. And though they’ve been on a hiatus since last year, their discography is as large as it is rich. I consider Bows + Arrows to be their best record, but if you’re looking for a more light-hearted listen, Lisbon is great too.

Light Up GoldParquet Courts:

Parquet Courts are a New York band by way of Texas, but they’ve adapted to the city’s culture quickly and quite well. Their breakthrough came when their second album, Light Up Gold, was re-released in 2012. I like to think of the charming, scrappy record as an early booze-induced practice session The Strokes may have had for Is This It.

Phrazes for the YoungJulian Casablancas:

Okay, okay, so this one’s kind of a cop out. Yes, Julian Casablancas is the lead singer of The Strokes, but his first solo venture, Phrazes for the Young, has a lot of never-before-seen Strokes-ian elements. The record gets clunky in its backhalf, but is an enjoyable listen nonetheless.



Andrew Brandt
@andrewtbrandt

Andrew is a communications intern at Murfie. When he’s not blogging here, you can probably find him blogging at a handful of other music sites. And when he’s not blogging at all, you can probably find him curled up with a good beer and a great book.



Happy Thanksgiving 2013!

Thanksgiving is just around the corner…and it’s a perfect time to remember to be grateful for all the good things in life. (And to eat!). Here are some albums that our Murfie staffers are grateful for as the holiday approaches.

Name: John
Thanksgiving plans: I think I’m going to go chill with my grandma. Not entirely sure yet.
Album I’m thankful for: I’m thankful for Ambient 1 by Brian Eno. This was one of the first albums that introduced me to ambient, experimental and avant-garde music, and it really introduced me to a ton of amazing and artistically satisfying music and people in my life.

Name: Daniella
Thanksgiving plans: Every year my family drives Up North and we have a big bonfire, eat tons of food, and take lots of naps.
Album I’m thankful for: Teaser and the Firecat by Cat Stevens.

Name: Marc
Thanksgiving plans: None in particular, although I imagine I’ll cook food :)
Album I’m thankful for: My Early Burglary Years by Morrissey – Not necessarily the best collection of his you can buy, but it does pack in several of my favorite Morrissey tracks.

Name: Leah
Thanksgiving plans: Headed home to a cozy family Thanksgiving at my aunt and uncle’s place in Chicago (fireplace, comfy couch, great conversation) and spending quality time together at our family’s restaurant.
Album I’m thankful for: The Life Pursuit by Belle & Sebastian – this album was my first foray into the always-fun Belle & Sebastian, and as I dug back through their earlier stuff I found many of what are now my go-to tunes when I’m feeling down or stressed-out.

Name: Adam
Thanksgiving plans: Spending quality time with my beloved family in Minnesota. Eating ridiculous amounts of food and watching football. Maybe looking through Black Friday ads.
Album I’m thankful for: Classics by Ratatat. It’s one of the first albums I can remember that made me think, “Hmmmm, music doesn’t always need lyrics to paint a picture.” And for that I’m thankful.

Name: Gao
Thanksgiving plans: Watching the Packers destroy the Lions with my boyfriend’s family.
Album I’m thankful for: Backstreet Boys’ self-titled album. The sappy love songs always cheer me up. Plus, I’ve perfected the reach and grab move.

Name: Zach
Thanksgiving plans: Going up north to my grandparents house for good food and spirits.
Album I’m thankful for: Amelie (Soundtrack) by Yann Tiersen.

Name: Elsa
Thanksgiving plans: Going to a family friend’s farm in Monroe, WI for a big potluck dinner.
Album I’m thankful for: #1 Record by Big Star (1972). The quintessential power pop album, from a band that only became semi-known decades after their demise. This one is particularly special because it has the original lineup of the band, with the songwriting team of Alex Chilton & Chris Bell, both truly gifted singer/guitarists who deserved a lot more recognition than they received. You can hear the album’s influence in a lot of indie rock groups that came out of the ’80s and ’90s.

Name: Matt
Thanksgiving plans: Thanksgiving day for football watching and turkey #1 with the in-laws, and Thanksgiving night for turkey #2 with my family. I’ll have to pace myself :)
Album I’m thankful for: Moving Up, Living Down by Eric Hutchinson. I’m thankful for having discovered Eric during his live show in Madison over the summer. He’s a terrific performer, and every track on his latest album is terrific, fun listening.

Name: Tyler
Thanksgiving plans: Eat, eat…and eat! And of course, watch the Packers. Go Pack Go!
Album I’m thankful for: I’m really digging the new Avicii album True. I’ll have a fun time listening to it with my brothers when they are in town for Thanksgiving.

Name: Kayla
Thanksgiving plans: Visiting my friends in Milwaukee and eating at my parents’ house (word on the street is my mom’s making gluten free pumpkin cheesecake…yummm).
Album I’m thankful for: Is This It by the Strokes. For some reason I feel like my life would not be the same if I never discovered this album in particular. The lyrics, melodies, hooks, and layered instruments really speak to me. And I luuurrve Julian Casablancas :)

What album are you thankful for this year? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Thanksgiving from the crew at Murfie!