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The Strokes behind the Velvet rope

The thing about Julian Casablancas isn’t just that he has a great voice but that he has a very distinctive -you know it’s him before the first line is completed whatever the song. That’s truth of the parodic The Lonely Island song “Boombox” which ends up soundling like… the Strokes. And it’s true of the single off Julian’s upcoming solo album “11th Dimension” -which sounds like the Strokes with synths. More than the rest of the band he is the sound of the Strokes and however good the song is he can’t hide from it.



The Stroke Is This It was released just after 9/11 (they had to remove “New York City Police” -because the line ended with “are dumb”) and having ten the rest of the decade to release another twoo albums. Rich kids New York royalty they really shoulda sucked bad and they didn’t. If you’ve ever seen em live you know they are the real thing.And they were great for three reasons, top rock band, great songs, great singer. A singer who was so good he made you forget how obtuse his lyrics are.Under Control” -a masterful broken up song from Room On Fire sounds as though what Casablancas has to say but when you read the lyric the point is so if not nihilistic certainly detached: ” I don’t want to change your mind, I don’t want to change the world I just want to watch it go by.I just want to watch you go by.We were young, darling, we don’t have no control, we’re out of control”


“You Only Live Once” off the ridiculously underrated First Impressions Of Earth is a strange take on what is happening to us based upon a killer guitar lick. Have a look at the lyric because it really adds up to a worldview:


Ooooooooh Ooooh Ooooh
Some people think they’re always right
Others are quiet and uptight
Others they seem so very nice, nice, nice, nice, nice, nice…(oh-ho)
Inside they might feel sad and wrong (oh no)


Twenty-nine different attributes
Only seven that you like (uh oh)
Twenty ways to see the world (oh-ho)
Twenty ways to start a fight (oh-ho)

Oh don’t, don’t, don’t get up
Sh-sh-sh-sh-I can’t see the sunshine
I’ll be waiting for you, baby
Cause I’m through
Sit me down
Shut me up
I’ll calm down
And I’ll get along with you
ooooooo-ooooooo-oooooh

Oh, men don’t notice what they got
Oh, women think of that a lot…
A thousand ways to please your man (oh-ho)
Not even one requires a plan (I know)

And countless odd religions, too
It doesn’t matter which you choose (oh no)
One stubborn way to turn your back (oh-ho)
This I’ve tried and now refuse (oh-ho)


Oh don’t, don’t, don’t get up
Sh-sh-sh-sh-I can’t see the sunshine
Oh, I’ll be waiting for you, baby
Cause I’m through
Sit me down
Shut me up
I’ll calm down
And I’ll get along with you
Alright

Shut me up
Shut me up
And I’ll get along with you

As always with the Strokes it feels like they have an inner life they shouldn’t be having. With everything going on in their lives (one of em dated Drew Barrymore for fuckssake) there is a tick tock of soul, a way of seeing things, an important rock band, behind the velvet rope of their lives.

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