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The Strokes

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the strokes

The Strokes

Photo courtesy RCA Records.

Overview:

The Strokes were one of the most buzzed-about bands of the early 2000s, part of a retro-rock revival that also included the White Stripes. The New York quintet's hype fizzled soon after, and the group eventually disintegrated, although they reunited at the end of the decade and are focusing on making new music together.

Early Days:

The band formed thanks to the sons of some rather successful men. Lead singer Julian Casablancas' father is John Casablancas, a modeling agent, and guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr. got his name from his dad, musician Albert Hammond, who had a huge hit in 1972 with "It Never Rains in Southern California." The two met in Switzerland, and eventually Hammond moved to New York, where he hooked up with Casablancas, as well as guitarist Nick Valensi, bassist Nikolai Fraiture and drummer Fabrizio Moretti.

The Breakthrough:

In early 2001, the Strokes released The Modern Age, a three-song EP that formed the backbone of their full-length debut, Is This It, which came out that summer. Casablancas had a sexy, snarly voice that could sound blase or almost punk-like when the situation demanded it, and the guitars had a jagged sting to them. Hailed by critics as an exciting collection of tunes that recalled the cool '70s vibe of quintessential New York artists like Lou Reed and Television, Is This It was a sensation with alternative rock fans, and "Last Nite" even became a modest hit on the pop charts. About 10 years after its release, the album was certified platinum.

The Follow-Up:

For their follow-up disc, Room on Fire, the Strokes enlisted Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, only to eventually part ways with him before the album's completion. Room on Fire continued in the direction of Is This It, flaunting a pop-centric garage-rock aesthetic. The reviews were slightly less rapturous, but the album peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard album chart, launching three singles onto the U.K. pop charts.

A New Album ... and a Break:

2006's First Impressions of Earth found the group trying to open up their sound. In the past, the Strokes had flaunted a cool detachment, but on their third disc they got a bit more upfront emotionally. The first single, "Juicebox," had the catchy punk energy of their earlier material, but the album as a whole failed to live up to the promise of their initial hype. Soon after, Hammond released his first solo disc, Yours to Keep, and the band went on a lengthy hiatus. Never quite becoming the critical or commercial juggernaut that had perhaps been expected, the Strokes seemed to be fading away.

The Reunion:

By the late 2000s, the band's individual members had been busy with their own projects. (Hammond and Casablancas had both released solo discs, and Fraiture and Moretti played in side bands.) But by the end of 2010, the Strokes announced that they had completed their comeback album. Angles arrived in stores in March of 2011, with the single "Under Cover of Darkness" proving to be a hit on rock radio. All in all, the album wasn't a bold step forward but, rather, a reconnection with the band's early sound.

Looking Ahead:

On March 26, 2013, the Strokes released their latest record, Comedown Machine. In January of that year, they unveiled the first song, "One Way Trigger," a departure from the band's garage-rock origins that more closely resembled dance-rock.

Band Members:

Julian Casablancas - vocals
Nikolai Fraiture - bass
Albert Hammond, Jr. - guitar
Fabrizio Moretti - drums
Nick Valensi - guitar

Discography:

Is This It (2001) (Purchase/Download)
Room on Fire (2003) (Purchase/Download)
First Impressions of Earth (2006) (Purchase/Download)
Angles (2011) (Purchase/Download)
Comedown Machine (2013) (Purchase/Download)
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