Think back to your junior year of high school… What lyrics were you writing on your converse high-tops with a sharpie during French class? I will answer my own question: Strokes’ lyrics. I didn’t really sense that the Strokes’ frontman was the most blasé rock star ever. J. Casablancas was then a clear forerunner to one of the chaps on Gossip Girl, a guy whose cultural echelon was really beyond me. If I’d have figured out who he was, I probably woulda hated him. But I just heard the language of rock n roll, and The Strokes spoke it with the energy of the young and coked out.
The night before Pitchfork revealed the last installment of their top albums from the decade, I drunkenly texted my predictions to my pal Andrew. See, the whole prospect of organizing the last 10 years of music excited me, because for once, I was alive and paying attention for the whole decade in music. I’d had a glass too many and rifled through my collection of compact discs. The cds, once lovingly organized by artist and era, then alphabetically, then in the order in which I’d acquired them, were scattered on my closet floor, neglected artifacts of my youth. I found the selections that would most obviously be on the pfork top 20 list, cellphone snapped photos of the album covers, and sent them over to Andrew. Among the photos was Is This It, with its swirling particle collision paisly cover. I remembered, with not a small pang of nostalgia, how much I loved that album.
SO what’s up with J Casablancas these days? He’s been up to some weird shit in the past couple a years.
Here is a sampling:
This is a terrible song, produced by Pharrell, featuring Santo/igold and Casablancas. It was for a Converse shoe campaign. Converse: the face of counter culture, owned by Nike! Your Drive Thru, Julian? I think it’s THEIR Drive Thru. Casablancas is doing his worst Prince impression.
This is also a terrible song. Produced by Dangermouse & Sparklehorse, feat. Casablancas. A twangy, trebly, directionless mess.
This is a joke song, written by The Lonely Island. J Casablancas’ vocal urgency is used for comedic effect on this song; lyrics include: “you’ve got to know your limits with a boombox/this is a cautionary tale/a boombox is not a toy.” As this song lacks any self-seriousness, it is the best of the three so far listed.
From his forthcoming solo LP Phrazes For the Young, (reported to be out Nov 3rd in the America) this song is abrasively, unapologetically retro. It leads to one of those First Impressions of Earth zigzaggy hooks: familiar, but comforting. As for the instrumentation, this is the closest thing to an Andrew WK song I’ve heard in a while. But it features the drum machine tightness of a Strokes LP song, and, um I just can’t get enough of this tune.