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The Strokes

The Strokes will make you want to party like it's 1975. Borrowing liberally from the arty, guitar-based avant-rock of The Velvet Underground and Television (both in terms of fashion sense and musical direction), The Strokes have quickly become one of the more heavily hyped bands of the early 21st century. Singer Julian Casablancas does a Lou Reed impression that's sometimes so spot-on you'll get chills, except that he sings with a bit less existential nihilism. The rest of the hip Manhattan quintet shapes their streetwise, satisfyingly gritty garage rock songs with swaggering conviction; especially noteworthy are the vibrant, spiky guitar tones of Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond, Jr. (who switch between lead and rhythm parts). Hey, The Strokes may smack of the '70s, but the styles they cop are timeless and eternally relevant -- and they're damn good at those styles -- so their sound doesn't feel the least bit dated.

The group formed in 2000 after most of its members dropped out of various New York-area colleges, and almost immediately created a major buzz on the strength of their live performances and their electric three-song demo, This Modern Age, which got picked up and released as an EP by Rough Trade Records in early 2001. This Modern Age (available in the U.S. on XL/Beggars) launched the U.K. music press into one of their notorious frenzies of critical adulation, which only grew with the subsequent release of the band's debut LP, Is This It? (Rough Trade in the U.K., RCA Records elsewhere) later the same year. The bluesy track "Last Nite" appeared on This Modern Age, before being reprised (along with the rest of that EP) on Is This It?.