The Strokes Sound

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swelle
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Post by swelle » Fri Feb 01, 2008 3:14 pm

Okay, though I speak from the throne of tooldom, I reiterate my point: it was the most important American debut album since Appetite.

Norah Jones debut outsold it 10/1, but I didn't see anybody dressing up like Norah. The impact is lasting if you look at today's "if everybody's a hipster, than nobody is" styles, the skinny black jeans, etc. - In 1998, most musicians were still wearing baggy cargo shorts and xxl t-shirts.

Big rock will always live - Zep is coming back, after all - but among the people I know in the music world, nobody would admit to Foo Fighters (or QOTSA, or Tool) being anything more than a guilty pleasure. But I'm not a big rock fan (anymore). :wink:

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Post by fossiltooth » Fri Feb 01, 2008 3:33 pm

swelle wrote:Okay, though I speak from the throne of tooldom, I reiterate my point: it was the most important American debut album since Appetite.

Norah Jones debut outsold it 10/1, but I didn't see anybody dressing up like Norah. The impact is lasting if you look at today's "if everybody's a hipster, than nobody is" styles, the skinny black jeans, etc. - In 1998, most musicians were still wearing baggy cargo shorts and xxl t-shirts.

Big rock will always live - Zep is coming back, after all - but among the people I know in the music world, nobody would admit to Foo Fighters (or QOTSA, or Tool) being anything more than a guilty pleasure. But I'm not a big rock fan (anymore). :wink:
Hey swelle, I'm kinda just messing around with you.

You're entitled to like whatever you want without having me make you feel bad about it!

You actually make some good points, but I don't fully agree with all of them.

I also disagree with you on Tool. It doesn't matter if they're relevant to you or me. Undertow was an extremely influential album in its circles of apprectiation.

I still don't buy your argument that the strokes were at all culturally influential in the way a band like tool was. You can still see the influence of tool today. In reference to the Strokes, you are seeing remenants of what they were influenced by.

I understand your point about the whole cookie-cutter culture of contemporay "hipsterdom", or the "if everybody's a hipster, than nobody is" styles" as you say it....

But The Strokes weren't one of the causes.... they were one of the symptoms. If you ask me, it's a very important distintion

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Post by swelle » Fri Feb 01, 2008 3:51 pm

Justin,

You do make good points, and I do know the Tool album was huge among musicians...

I just see the strokes record as one of those sea change records - when one era ends and the next begins. Nirvana is obviously the most prime example of this, the Smiths or Oasis in their time as well... and certainly Metallica, the list goes on and on.

It's said about Steve McQueen that girls wanted to f*ck him, and guys wanted to be him. I think the Strokes tapped into that, which may be the cause of some of the sour grapes with them. You can't say that about Radiohead.

Actually, I don't own the record and don't really care about it, just posting my very urban-oriented observations of the scene in LA, NY, London, and San Francisco at that time... that record was EVERYWHERE, but in the end it only sold a half-million or so. So who knows.

AND don't forget the distorted vocals! :x

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Post by E-money » Fri Feb 01, 2008 5:28 pm

This thread is making me feel old.

At least I saw Zeppelin in there somewhere.
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Post by fossiltooth » Fri Feb 01, 2008 6:54 pm

E-money wrote:This thread is making me feel old.

At least I saw Zeppelin in there somewhere.
Ha!

Swelle, here's my last argument, and then I'll shut up:

I think we have different definitions of the word "important", and that's why we're arguing.

To me, "important" means "leaving behind a legacy that effects ideas, aesthetics, culture and identity in the long term. You definition seems to be more along the lines of "exemplary of sweeping trends in fashion of its time"

We still feel the influence of Nirvana today. We feel the influence of Led Zeppelin today. We feel the influence of Billie Holiday and Django Rheindhardt and Tool and Captain Beefhart and Tom Waits and Steely Dan and Beck and the Beastie Boys and Aphex Twin and Stereolab and the Ramones and and Hank Williams and Black Sabbath and John Coltrane and Bach and Stravinsky and Michael Jackson and The Beatles and Debussy and Tribe Called Quest and Sonic Youth and the Wu-Tang Clan and Miles Davis and today.

These are artists that are "important" in my book. I don't have to like all of them, but I can't deny any of their influence. For instance, I could probably add Kenny G to that list and make a valid case for him. (Unfortunately, I could probably also add GNR like you suggested, but unfortunately they make me even more nauseous than Kenny G and Steely Dan combined!)

I don't think we feel the influence of Flock of Seagulls or Bananarama or Ratt or Poison or Brian Setzer or Nickelback or the Strokes in fashion, ideas, identity or aesthetics today. Therefore, to me, the Stokes are not "important". AND The Stokes did not kickstart the current "hipster look" in anyway. They became marginally popular because they were are reflection of changes in aesthetic that were already quietly sweeping the nation for years. The fact that they were popular when shaggy bangs and skinny ties came back into fashion by no means suggests they were a force in popularizing these fashion fads. I could make a case that the exact opposite is true... that they became somewhat popular for a brief period of time, because people were regaining an interest in rock and moptops and skinny ties. I don't think they brought these things into fashion any more than Flock of Seagulls brought hairspray into fashion. Again, I see them as a symptom, not a cause.

On the otherhand, it sounds trite to say, but the influence of Kurt Cobain made an entire generation alter the way it approached understanding its own identity, and sparked a wider interst in "indie" culture than ever before in the history of popular music. In many ways modern "hipsterdom" can be traced more readily to the influence of Nirvana than the Strokes, or any other entity in the past 20 years.

I can easily say "We live in a post-Nevermind world" and be taken seriously. Can you possibly say that we live in a "Post-Whatever-the-hell-the-name-of-the-first-Strokes-record-is World"?

Can you? No. You can't say it any more than you can say we live in a post "Swing-Revival World". I don't think brief Fads are "important". At least not in the way that I define Importance.

The thing that really annoys people so much about the Strokes is that it seems like they give themselves as much credit as you do. It appears that they agree that the fact that they had the right haircuts at the right time somehow makes them an important force in the world of Music and popular culture. I say BS. The term "pretentious" constantly gets misused. In case you were wondering, the way these guys seem to feel about themselves is actually the dictionary definition of pretension.

I could keep going, but just I don't think there's that much demand for my pseudo-intellectual rants!
Last edited by fossiltooth on Fri Feb 01, 2008 8:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by dwelle » Fri Feb 01, 2008 8:04 pm

all this dreck and nobody giving the original post any consideration. if you need, go start a rant on the issue.

c'mon guy's, it's the strokes. it's not rocket science. it's not supposed to be...

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Post by watergunfight » Fri Feb 01, 2008 8:16 pm

watergunfight wrote:http://www.eqmag.com/article/gordon-raphael/Dec-03/2232
heres another good one. interesting that they don't like using tape

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Post by T-rex » Fri Feb 01, 2008 8:25 pm

Personally I loved and still love that album. I don't give a damn if it was recorded on a wire recorder. The songs were/are great. When it comes down to it you can make an amazing recording of a crappy song and it's still going to be a suck song no one wants to hear, except maybe an audiophile wanting an excuse to test out his new $10K speaker cables. You can also make a crappy recording of an amazing song and in the end it's still going to be an amazing song.

Also, I think it's awesome that it was recorded in Logic. I always thought is was done on a crappy 8 track or even a 8 track cassette machine so I was really happy to read the SOS article posted. Call it a crappy recording or an attempt to cover up whatever, but I think the aesthetic absolutely fit the music.

Finally, I remember seeing an interview with the guy from Disturbed (one of the most god awful bands to ever exist in my humble opinion) and he said something like, "When the strokes broke, we were all really scared that this was going to be the new thing and nu-metal was going to get kicked off the air waves. The strokes, the hives all these bands like that, but we kept on." Great for them. :roll:
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Post by arbitropia » Fri Feb 01, 2008 8:41 pm

I like the Strokes. I agree with fossiltooth that they're probably not all that *important* in the scheme of things. They were part of a thing that was already happening, and ended up being part of the public face of it, but that's about it.

One way to achieve that kind of vibe is to use a cassette portastudio. I used to get somewhat similar results in the '90s with a Yamaha MT-50 and a couple of old Shure Unidyne III PE54D's I borrowed from a non-musical friend (who found them in his parents' basement). One mic pointed at the drums, direct bass, one mic on the guitar amp (Twin Reverb). Then I'd sing thru the Twin (for the reverb) and mic that. Obviously not a hi-fi result, but those recordings definitely possess a certain unique and vintage-y quality. And doing it this way is definitely cheap.

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Post by tubetapexfmr » Sat Feb 02, 2008 9:40 am

Sorry I derailed your thread. I really was trying to be helpful, but I guess I was just too smartass for the helpfulness to come through. I will stand by my suggestion to track clean and fuck it up later. If you are new to recording lo-fi and just jump in with a crappy cassette recorder that you don't know how to use what will most likely happen is you'll create a soup of blandness. Learning how to make properly fucked up recordings is not as easy as it appears. The way you make lo-fi really work is by contrast. A washed out vocal against a backdrop of perfect acoustic guitar, crushed drums against gigantic synth leads, etc. You want those extreme, those blacks and whites popping out the greys. I think if you are new to it you'll probably just wind up recording a bunch of greys if you don't have a way to sculpt it. Sorry I picked on The Strokes. If you like them, great. I just feel like the recording is so poorly done in places, especially vocals, that I can't stand it. I don't give a shit about their haircuts or ties, their music just never did it for me and the recordings ruined my even giving them a chance.

The coolest thing about the Izotope Trash plug-in is in how you build distortion models. It virtualizes real life objects like blown speakers, AM Radios, and Telephone pickups to simulate various distortions. Through experimentation with this plug-in you can get virtual experience in doing this in the real world on your own. Does this make sense?

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Post by vvv » Mon Feb 04, 2008 5:43 am

Funny stuff, y'all.

Interesting to note that no one is talking about the more recent Strokes recordings, which have gotten quite a bit more, eh, "big".

I like them, as well as the earlier stuff.

Finally, I think the music world would be a much better place if QOTSA were more of an influence.
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Post by RefD » Mon Feb 04, 2008 8:17 am

vvv wrote:Finally, I think the music world would be a much better place if QOTSA were more of an influence.
agreed, just so long as it's not their singles (which typically are weak compared to the rest of the album) that are the primary influence.

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Post by curtiswyant » Mon Feb 04, 2008 1:19 pm

I don't understand how someone could bash The Strokes and then recommend Louis XIV. Sheesh!

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thieves
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Re: The Strokes Sound

Post by thieves » Mon Feb 04, 2008 2:06 pm

fossiltooth wrote:
RoyMatthews wrote:
jessemesasavage wrote:
I'm assuming by saying lo-fi you're talking about the first Strokes record. If so, then Ewww! Why would you want to emulate that sorry excuse for a recording? If you want to make a record like that and make sure it sounds lo-fi then do what they did: hire a hack that works on cheap shit and doesn't know how to track vocals. Make sure your songs are boring and derivative, oh and make sure that your singer can't sing a note and don't try to cover it up with anything but distortion. Most importantly make sure the band is introduced at a time when people are starving for ANY new rock on the radio and then shove it down their throats.

Chances are your band is better than The Strokes (since 99.9% of all bands are), but chances are just as great that you don't have some wealthy relative to get you a record deal like they did. I say make your record clean and neutral at the tracking stage and then color it to taste later with something like Izotope's Trash plug-in, that way you can tune the lo-finess to where you really want it. Most of all don't try to emulate a shitty band's shitty recording. Do your own thing and let your own mind create original ideas. If you MUST emulate another band's recordings in this vein how about The Hives, The Raconteurs, or Louis XIV?
I'm sorry but how is this helpful? Personally I like the Strokes' first record and I like the way it sounds. I don't care how they got their contract. It's has nothing to do with the sound of the recording (OK maybe it does and they using 'LoFi' to cover something up). But for me it's enjoyable. I'm assuming the original poster feels the same way so why rain on his parade?
I had the exact opposite reaction... Sure, it was a little much, but I though this post was priceless! I laughed my butt off.

But then again, I appreciate a good rant. I can sympathize with"jessemesasavage"s outlook, but personally, I don't think the Stokes are relevant enough to get all worked up about (especially these days). It's kinda like getting all hot under the collar about how Winger are killing metal, or because Loverboy sucks, or because Wham! are really annoying. I mean, what's the point?

You know... they do what they do, and some people were into it. They are a band that was built to be enjoyed by fairweather fans. To most people, this was obvious when they came out. It's even more obvious now that the weather's not so fair anymore. So why bother with the hate? What is this... 2001?

Then again, to anyone who isn't a fan, there's something that's genuinely annoying about the Strokes. To many people, they come across as pompous and privileged and self-important, and generally douchey. A lot of people find them pretty easy to get worked up about. They're nearly as much of a hot-button band for some people as Nickelback or Creed.

At this very moment, scores of people are trying to decide whether or not they should fight the urge to post: "Nickelback sucks giant %&#$^@&*@@#" just because their name appeared on this page.

Am I right or am I right?
I just listened to the La's self titled record a couple days ago... they were doing 60's jangle pop in 1990 but the songs just hold up that well.

I still listen to all the strokes records quite often, the songs are great. They decided to forego the big studio sound (which obviously was an option given their connections) but they decided to go about it a bit different. Isn't that what tape op is all about?

:shock:
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Post by themagicmanmdt » Mon Feb 04, 2008 4:58 pm

i thought it was a great topic, but, comeon guys...wtf?

i love the sound of the first two strokes records - 'room on fire' was the same production but with better gear, i thought. 'first impressions' annoyed the hell out of me. i don't want to think of those songs. it'll make my head bleed.

but, anyways. it's a very midrangey record, and sounds a lot like they used live sound Shure mics to record most of it. it falls in the same recording category as the VU + Nico record - it's *technically* a bad, unclear recording, but when you're able to use that haze as part of the wall and have it be your friend and not your enemy, then that's the key.

also, EQ those highs down. don't forget to low pass around 12k.

i love me some 12k low pass.
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