9
Sep 20

#16: Can’t you see I’m trying?

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The final bracket spotlights the great hopes of indie rock – at least as far as the NME was concerned – The Strokes. Googling magazine covers for the lead-in illustrations to the poll brought home a couple of points. The first is how quickly and heavily the NME went all-in for The Strokes. The second is how little else they had to talk about in the same breath – their natural tendency to roll a few acts up into a “scene” seems initially thwarted. That would change, fairly quickly, but it accounts for the way Detroit’s White Stripes, already on their 3rd LP, would be swept up and treated as a new band.

The Stripes contribute three tracks in this bracket; the Strokes two. This seems fair to me – the Stripes were a more distinctive and interesting group, even if their stuff (at this point) didn’t work as pop as well as The Strokes’ did. All of these five tracks should do fine – whether they’ll do better than fine is another matter – the Stripes’ best-known track from this era, “Fell In Love With A Girl”, didn’t pick up a nomination; The Strokes’ biggest hit (“Last Nite”) did, but I’m a little sceptical that people really love it that much.

After that, the bracket veers away from garage rock – there was plenty more out there, but not yet as celebrated – and takes in a range of other US altrock activity, from the shaggy good vibes of My Morning Jacket, through The Faint’s synth-punk, Radio 4’s dance-punk, and The Dismemberment Plan’s knotty, complex indie rock. Perennials Spoon, Guided By Voices, and ex-Pavement singer Stephen Malkmus show up too.

This bracket, outside the Strokes and Stripes, is where my Britishness weighs most heavily upon me, which might be why I put it off until last. I think some of this music is pretty good and some of it is pretty bad but I find it extremely hard to care which: I can only imagine people outside these scepter’d isles would feel the same about, say, Feeder. Hopefully in the heat and dust of competition some of these relative cyphers will come into their own for me. For now, this bracket feels like a two-horse race, and they aren’t even horses I particularly fancy the odds on.

POTENTIAL WINNER: I can see “Last Nite” racking up votes and eventually spectacularly collapsing when it meets one of the bigger favourites. But it’ll stick around a while, surely.

BEST TRACK: Ooof, this is hard, honestly almost none of these deserve it, even the ones I thought might – I love Spoon, for instance, but they still sound like a work in progress here. I’ll go for “I’m Finding It Harder To Be A Gentleman Every Day”, the most idiosyncratic and fun of the three White Stripes pieces in the group.

DARK HORSE: Radio 4’s “Dance To The Underground” isn’t the greatest example of early 00s dance-punk, but it has a pulse, which might work in its favour for a couple of rounds.

DISCOVERY: OK, actually this is “Best Track” too – I’d never bothered to listen to Rilo Kiley because of their terrible name, and also probably (a la Bran Van 3000) I thought they were likely to be a guy named Rilo. Idiot me – this track is solid pop-rock with a good singer though, like almost everything in this set, I can barely remember anything about it.

Comments

  1. 1
    Joe on 28 Sep 2020 #

    I’m sorry to post an unrelated question, but I haven’t been super updated on everything here and I’m curious: has Popular been put on hold?

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