Tuesday, April 02, 2013

50/50 ... The Strokes Comedown Machine & Show # 450

On March 26th, 2013, The Strokes released their fifth full length album Comedown Machine. Critics have been fast to jump on The Strokes hate wagon ever since 2003’s misunderstood Room On Fire, an album in which The Strokes first began to flirt with their 80’s influences and move forward beyond the Garage sounds of Is This It? This album is no different. Comedown Machine picks up from where 2011’s Angles started, also mixing in elements of Julian Cassablancas’ 2009 album Phrazes For The Young. The album starts off with the 80’s funkified rhythms of “Tap Out” as lyrics such as “Decide my past/Define my life/Don’t ask questions cause I don’t know why” come in, it brings the albums beginning into a different sounding, yet poignant lyrical context.

“All The Time” comes in next with its traditional Strokes Rock dynamics sounding like a song exhumed from the bands past, while a song like “One Way Trigger” is drastically different. With tropical sounding synthesizers ala 80s band A-ha "One Way Trigger" ventures in to an almost Electronica territory, a sound that is pushed throughout various moments of this album. “Welcome To Japan” is a song that has familiar classic Strokes song structures with their new sense of Angles-addled 80s dynamics and lyrics “Didn’t really know this/what kind of asshole drives a lotus” we are reminded of the deadpan humorous lyrics that made us first fall in love with The Strokes. “50/50” is a glorious Rock and Roll Strokes moment, one of the strongest tracks on Comedown Machine with lyrics “I will say/I will say/Don’t Judge me”, which couldn’t be more relevant to this album as a whole. Other interesting tracks of note are “80s Comedown Machine” a slow, synth almost Dub influenced track, “Chances’, “Happy Ending” sounding like a song from Room On Fire meets First Impressions of Earth, and the ending track “Call It Fate, Call It Karma”. This track is a song like “Ask Me Anything” on 2006’s First Impressions of Earth, in the context of it being so different with the overall songs found on the album. It is a slow tropical Jazz Pop track as the opening lyrics “Close the door/Not all the way” haunt us in Casablancas’ crooning, yet falsetto style.

Comedown Machine was recorded at Electric Lady Land Studios in New York, with the full band working together as opposed to 2011’s Angles in which singer Julian Casablancas deliberately removed himself from being present at the sessions. This album also marks the final album in the bands contract with RCA, causing some fans and critics to speculate in conjunction with the lyrical subject matter that this is the end of The Strokes. The band has also not scheduled any touring in support of this album as of yet, and there has been no press from the band members themselves. But some light was shed on this subject in a recent post on twitter by guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. in the tweet, Hammond was commenting on the artwork inside the album which features silhouettes of each band member, his tweet commented on the bands cycle with RCA and as a band in general stating: “The Strokes as a band cycle? Or just The Strokes on RCA cycle?” Obviously the RCA cycle”

Whether or not The Strokes will continue to make records time will tell, but it hasn’t been the first time a band has left their label and continued on in some other fashion. As a whole Comedown Machine sounds like a mixing of Room On Fire with Phrazes For The Young, using Angles as a starting point. Love it or hate it, Comedown Machine is a creative, yet fresh take on the bands old once heralded and established sound mixed with their new sense of 80’s obsessionism. While the title of the album may be Comedown Machine, that title is reserved for the ones that place The Strokes under a harsh lens. For all others Comedown Machine is in a completely different category or status, being a machine all of its own.

This week's play list:

1. David Bowie – Dirty Boys
2. The Strangers – Nice N’ Sleazy
3. Pete Shelley – In Love With Somebody Else
4. Lumina – I’ll Be With You
5. The Hoa Hoa’s - Falling In Love Is For Young People
6. Blackpool – Standing Over There
7. The Kingsmen – Haunted Castle Party
8. The Uprisers – Let Me Take You Down
9. The Cheap Speakers – Window
10. Ghostkeeper – Horse Chief! War Thief!
11. 100 Mile House – Last Call
12. The Men – The Brass
13. Guided By Voices -Little Whirl
14. The Wipers – Up Front
15. X – Nausea
16. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - We No Who U R
17. Vic Godard & The Subway Sect – Rock and Roll Even (A Different Story)
18. Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Party Girl
19. The Jam – In The Crowd
20. TEENANGER – The Ballad of Robert McNamarra
21. Pow Wows – Shock Corridor
22. The Strokes – 50/50

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for April 2. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

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