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Coachella 2011 Artist Preview: The Strokes


Its media blitz crunch time for NY indie-rockers The Strokes on the trail up to their performance at Coachella, which includes prominent late night appearances with David Letterman and Jimmy Fallon. But with tickets already sold out and reviews of the new album amicably favorable, all we can speculate about is how much of the new album will be heard at this high stakes festival.

Last year's Coachella saw the emergence of lead singer Julian Casablancas, as he performed in support of his solo album Phrazes For The Young.It had also been three years since The Strokes released their last studio album. Waiting for a new Strokes album at this point was not a function of side-project distraction but of historically reoccurring recording issues. The band began the recording of 2003's Room on Fire with producer Nigel Godrich (Radiohead), and then reverted to original producer Gordon Raphael (Is This It), then finally to David Kahne (Regina Spektor). With Angles the band decided on Gus Oberg (Albert Hammond Jr.) midstream of recording rather than previously confirmed Joe Chicarelli (Manchester Orchestra, Minus The Bear). Yet this juggling of producers and five years of hiatus has done well for the album’s cohesive sound.

On Angles, we find the band branching off into polished sounds and moods, much like Casablancas himself. Songs like “Machu Picchu” and “Games” present nostalgic longings for dance and synth, and “Metabolism” has its own sense of being proto-metal. Though they finally got the concept of prudent forward thinking with their writing, songs like “Gratisfaction” return the band to the raw garage sound they built their name on. Now faced with the dilemma of debuting new songs or sticking with the tried and true bangers like “Last Nite” will The Strokes distance themselves from past perceptions or forge new impressions on their core audience?

Performances like Coachella will not make or break a band like The Strokes, for their inclusion in the festival clarifies their relevancy in popular music. But concerts in close proximity of a new album are a good indicator of the direction a band is about to take in embracing their new material. Hopefully you are among the many that will be in Indio to find out. The Strokes perform at The Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival Sunday April 17. Their new album Angles will be released March 22 on RCA Records.