When I was in London in the summer of 2001, I made my usual trip to the original Rough Trade Records store on Talbot Street, just off Portobello Road in Notting Hill. I was a little bummed out at the time, concerned that music had hit a dead end.
I desperately needed some comfort and inspiration. The mainstream was awash in pop music: Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys, ‘NSync, Britney Spears. Alt-rock had lost its way after grunge burned out. The big acts were searching for direction. There were far too many one-hit-wonders. And nu-metal, the biggest thing at the time, was very, very polarizing. It was not my thing.
On top of all that, a new genre dubbed “electronica” was siphoning off a lot of rock fans. Music made the old-school way with guitars, bass, drums, and vocals seemed out of date and played out.
But that couldn’t be true, could it? In the past, every time rock was declared dead, someone or something came along and breathed new life into everything.
This is the story I told to Nigel, the guy behind the counter in the small Rough Trade shop. “Give me something that is exciting, new, and fresh,” I said. “Give me hope!”
Nigel reached under the counter and pulled out a CD single. “Here, mate,” he said. “This should cure your ills.” It was a song not from some UK band but from a New York group called The Strokes.
Turns out he was right. The Strokes were one of the very, very first new bands behind what became the indie-rock revival that began at the tail end of the 90s and blew up over the next couple of years. Nice one, Nigel.
But why The Strokes? Where did they come from? And why was this guy in London telling me about a band from New York? This requires some explanation.
Songs heard on this show (all songs by The Strokes):
- Bad Decisions
- Last Nite (demo)
- Hard to Explain
- Under Cover of Darkness
- One Way Trigger
- Drag Queen
We’re still looking for more affiliates in Calgary, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Brandon, Windsor, Montreal, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, and St John’s, and anywhere else with a transmitter. If you’re in any of those markets and you want the show, lemme know and I’ll see what I can do.
And here’s the usual playlist from Eric Wilhite. https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7qj6VjiJVTBIFbQiFSDqH9?si=XidFLHoHRWGYzmSsa45J6Q
The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:
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