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.

Album Preview: “The Breeze (An Appreciation of JJ Cale)” by Eric Clapton & Friends

The BreezeAlbum
The Breeze (An Appreciation of JJ Cale)

Artist
Eric Clapton & Friends

Release Date
July 29, 2014

Label
Bushbranch / Surfdog

Pre-order Link
Pre-order Album

Preview
It seems as if Eric Clapton is ready to share more music with the world. This time around, Clapton has joined with several friends and music icons to pay tribute to one of rock music’s heroes of songwriting, the late J.J. Cale. Eric Clapton & Friends will be releasing The Breeze (An Appreciation of JJ Cale) this month. And if Eric Clapton’s leadership weren’t enough, the list of guest artists featured on the album promise to deliver an unforgettable experience.

Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton certainly has no shortage of accolades. Thrice-inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his work as a solo artist, and member of The Yardbirds and Cream, Eric Clapton has earned his place as a living legend. He has released over twenty albums as a solo artist and has appeared and collaborated on countless others. His efforts have earned him seventeen Grammy awards. He is continually ranked as one of the greatest blues guitar players of all time, and his influence is cited by countless musicians today.

UnpluggedJ.J. Cale also inspired innumerable musicians throughout his four decade career, and was a frequent collaborator with Clapton. Tunes such as “After Midnight” and “Cocaine” were penned by Cale and covered by Clapton with much success. Clapton aims to honor Cale’s legacy with The Breeze (An Appreciation of JJ Cale). Speaking on the album, Clapton stated, “I would like people to tap into what JJ Cale did—that’s the point. I’m just the messenger; I’ve always felt that that’s my job. I try to interpret things so that the public at large, or at least the people who listen to what I do, will become intrigued about where I got it from.”Me and Mr. Johnson

The Breeze (An Appreciation of JJ Cale) is shaping up to be a blues fan’s dream. Guest appearances by legendary musicians such as Tom Petty, Mark Knopfler, John Mayer, and Willie Nelson promise to deliver a collaboration that should not be missed.

Check out the official music video for “Call Me The Breeze Below!”

A teaser from The Breeze (An Appreciation of JJ Cale):

Pre-order your copy of The Breeze (An Appreciation of JJ Cale) today at Murfie! Each CD comes with unlimited streaming (Web, iOS, Android, Sonos) and downloads in mp3, aac, FLAC and ALAC. 

My Favorite Albums of 2014 (So Far)

They say that time flies when you’re having fun—and if there’s even an ounce of truth to that statement, 2014 has been an all-around blast. Being a music junkie, album releases obviously impact how I’m feeling about any given year. And so far, 2014 has been hitting the high bar that 2013 set.

Here are five of my favorites albums, so far.

Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues

Transgender Dysphoria BluesAgainst Me! have been making pop-friendly punk for nearly two decades now, but the late 2000’s found the band lacking the ferocity they once harnessed. That all changed with this year’s Transgender Dysphoria Bluesa semi-autobiographical account of the life of front woman Laura Jane Grace, who publicly came out as a transgender woman in 2012. The album’s lyrical content is hands-down the most important you’re going to hear all year, but Transgender‘s musical content nearly matches in quality, having found a drive of its own.

Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else

Here and Nowhere ElseIn 2012, Dylan Baldi took his musical venture Cloud Nothings from a bedroom project to a full-blown rock outfit. Here and Nowhere Else, Cloud Nothings’ second release as a full band, is another healthy dose of raw guitars, ferocious drums and yelping vocals. The record gets in and out in half an hour, not wasting any time in rocking the heck out. And though its heavier than some Cloud Nothings fans may be used to, Here and Nowhere Else is just as full of hooks and catchy choruses as the ones Baldi used to pen alone in his bedroom.

Modern Baseball – You’re Gonna Miss It All

I’m only 22,You're Gonna Miss It All but sometimes I feel too old to appreciate Modern Baseball. The band is technically of the “emo” variety, but that tag is most assuredly due to front man Brendan Lukens’ memorable but sulky vocals. The actual music that Modern Baseball dabbles in is all over the map, ranging from pop to punk to acoustic ballads. Their second record, You’re Gonna Miss It All, caught me completely off guard — but its quietly become my most spun record of the year.

tUnE-yArDs – Nikki NackNikki Nack

Nikki Nack finds Merrirl Garbus (AKA tUnE-yArDs) perfecting her unique brand of progressive pop; it’s weird, it’s fun and, above all, it’s just good music. For anybody who’s sick of the blandness surrounding today’s indie pop scene, Nikki Nack will be just the breath of fresh air they crave.

The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream

Lost in the DreamThe War on Drugs‘ Lost in the Dream brings to mind Springsteen, Petty and Dylan, but the album stands alone because it takes those influences and crafts something sprawling and unique out of them. Every track here sifts into the next, crafting one seamless, beautiful blur. I have a hard time believing a more cohesive, front-to-back record will be released this year—and that doesn’t bother me one bit.

Luckily for us, the second half of 2014 is looking just as juicy as the first. I’m already looking forward to Spoon‘s They Want My Soul (8/05), and self-titled debuts from Alvvays (7/22) and Jungle (7/15).



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.