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Wednesday, 6 April 2011

"The Noughties: WTF Just Happened?" Part 2 - 2001: All Eyes On New York

The second part of my Noughties retrospective is online now at Weaponizer, this time looking at 2001 and in particular the effect of The Strokes.

"God what a boon the Strokes were to an ailing rock press! Let's not forget that at the very tail end of 2000 the venerable indie music paper Melody Maker was shut down. One of the few remaining mainstream avenues for alternative musics was gone. Though they probably feigned triumph, the NME must have been shitting themselves. Even though the Strokes offered nothing "new", nothing we hadn't heard countless times before, they filled a gap in much the same way as Nirvana did exactly ten years before them. White boys with guitars, who are just like you and me - they became a rallying point. They offered something that was different from the mainstream, from trance, disco-house, and the plodding post-Britopo of Travis and Coldplay, but at the same time what they offered was instantly recognisable. Comfortable, even.

I have a pet theory, which may in fact be bullshit, but it's something like this: at a time when the new generation has not yet fully defined themselves, they try on the clothes of the generation before last to see how they fit. This doesn't just mean fashion, this can mean music tastes, graphic style, film and television references. It's happening now with the early Nineties, and you could say that it happened in the early Nineties itself with grunge bands looking back to the Seventies (for what is grunge if it's not a punk take on metal?). Of course, fashion is the first frontier to be effected as it is the easiest to change. So out went baggy rave trousers, in came ripped skin tight jeans. Out went platform trainers and in came beat up old converse. Day-glo turned to black leather and baby dummies were abandoned for self-rolled cigarettes.

Musically, rock was back. With a vengeance. The black-gloved hand on that bare bony arse was everywhere in the autumn of 2001, and I hated it! All it signified to me at the time was a cowardly retreat into safe and homogenised forms of pseudo-rebellion. We had been here before, how did we end up here again? Wearing the same clothes and smelling the same smells? With all the advancement going on in music at the time, including underground and overground dance (and in particular mainstream hip-hop and R&B, which I will be looking at in 2002) it seemed faintly ridiculous. My own particular musical journey had taken me through rock heavily in the first part of the Nineties, but by the end of that decade I had abandoned it as I felt it was boring and didn't reflect what I was feeling or thinking. I'll admit to not having felt much remorse at the closure of the MM at the time, because it didn't represent my tastes any more. Nor the tastes of anyone else I knew - it was anachronistic. But maybe we were the ones out of time?"

Read it all here.

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