Stroked “Is This It” [ALBUM REVIEW]

One of the best parts about writing this blog is the music.  Learning about new music and constantly listening to new bands and sharing it with you is a major perk.  Thinking you have your finger on the pulse of the Los Angeles music scene is also nice and completely unrealistic in this massive behemoth of a musical metropolis.  LA has so much to offer music wise and the ever changing musical landscape here is mind boggling but there are certain things that are definitive and one hundred percent accurate and one of them is popularity.  Good or bad popularity of a rock and roll act can’t be denied.  This blog is about one of the my favorite bands of all time and a very popular one at that.  They are called The Strokes.  Now your probably ready to punch me in the face for writing about something so mainstream?  Hold your horses cowboy and let me explain.  This year marks the 10th anniversary of The Stroke’s seminal album “Is This It.”  It’s a hit fest from start to finish.  Stereogum has put together a special tribute to “Is This It” with major and non major indie artists doing takes on the songs.  Get excited.

Peter Bjorn and John – Is This It

I don’t know or have heard a lot of the bands on this awesome tribute but I will highlight some of the best.  The opening tracks guitar laden effects slathered and the awesome vocal stylings of Peter Bjorn and John of “Young Folks” fame brings some major indie cred and star power to this record.  “Is This It” is one of the best / my favorite Strokes songs ever.  As a fitting introduction to the band ten years ago it has now become yet again a fitting introduction to “Stroked.”  For those keeping score I’m going to skip “Modern Age” and move into the third track on the record.  This version of “Soma” by Frankie Rose is a completely mellowed out pseudo electronic version of the original.

Soma – Frankie Rose

Pretty awesome version if I do say so myself.  A lot of these artists are new to me so perk up and leave a comment if you know more or can suggest something I should listen to.  This next track is The Strokes most famous and popular song.  It’s called “Last Night” and it’s done by a great band called The Morning Benders.  Recently The Strokes have toured the festival circut and released a new record of great music as well as efforts after “Is This It,” but for whatever reason I can’t get enough of this pop gem.  People (mostly me) go nuts when they play it on a nightly basis and it has defined the band since it was released 10 years ago.

Last Night – The Morning Benders

Awesome cover, awesome song.  Deep breaths, I’m getting all worked up.  The synth in that version kills it (kills it in a good way).  There is just enough of the original, great melody mixed with a quick pop beat, awesome cover.  Ok moving on.  This is where it get’s interesting.  I said earlier this record is a complete and utter hit fest.  Obviously I wouldn’t lie to you.  Many of the concert staples The Strokes play come off this record and from what I’ve read they actually enjoy playing them on a nightly basis.  On of the tunes I love so much is called “Hard To Explain.”  For me it’s the iconic example of how good of a singer Julian Casablancas actually is.  The tribute version keeps that in mind giving it the acoustic treatment, more specifically the string quartet treatment.  It’s a light touch with heavily effected vocals and I think it does the trick while keeping in mind how good the original is.

Hard To Explain – Owen Pallett

Gorgeous composition and great vocals from Owen Pallett that track is a stand out in the second half.  The next song is “New York City Cops.”  Yet another fan favorite and live staple.  The version on this compilation is, in a word, interesting?  It’s a hip hop song.  SAYYYY WHATTTTT?????  But, Steve “NYC Cops” is one of the most rockin’ tracks on the whole record why would they give it the hip hop treatment?  To be honest I have no idea, but its a pretty cool version of the song using a sample of Julian’s vocal as the chorus.  Check it out here.  I won’t judge if you won’t.

New York City Cops – Heems

This brings us to the end of the record.  We’ll skip over “Trying Your Luck” and get right after it with “Take it or Leave It.”  This epic show closer tells you like it is and that’s the way The Stroked have been since day one.  They make their music and quite frankly don’t give an f-bomb what anyone else thinks.  They have made some of my favorite music of all time and this tribute Stereogum put together is a fitting tribute to a great record and a greater band.  Enjoy The Strokes.  Enjoy this entire compilation for FREE HERE, take it or leave it.

Take It Or Leave It – Computer Magic

By: Steve Rippin | Beat-Play Ambassador Los Angeles | @stevewithMWL|Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

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