Cynic Review Needs Review

This letter is in response to the review of the Strokes’ First Impressions of Earth review by David Sachs, which appeared in a recent issue of the Cynic. Though the Strokes remain a lackluster band, it is commendable that they’ve more ably digested the sounds they’ve bitten from their all-too-obvious influences.

No! The qualm which compelled me to write this letter is of greater severity and could not be ignored. There are elements of Dave’s piece that display his lack of qualification for writing a serious article about Rock n’ Roll.

The first is the misrepresentation of singer Julian Casablancas’ name as “Julius.” Though I am not a fan of the Strokes, I know the singer’s name. It’s nearly impossible not to know his name, given the seeming omnipresence of the Strokes in the media. Even the most cursory research should have adequately satisfied this problem (maybe by even giving the liner notes a skim).

I can understand why the Strokes seem so impressive, and my aim here is not to attempt to discredit a hard working band (even if their sound is one recycled from older bands).

The real issue hinges on one sentence in the article, which reads, “The single begins with a hard-strummed baseline [bassline? Editors? Anyone?] reminiscent of Television or Alien Ant Farm.”

Wow! Wow! Wow! That sentence is so ridiculous, it makes my head hurt.

Kudos to Mr. Sachs for noticing the reverence the Strokes so clearly have (as they should) for one of the greatest rock bands ever, Television, but it is complete and absolute blasphemy to ever use the names Television and Alien Ant Farm in the same sentence. It’s like aligning Mother Teresa with Stalin; it’s incongruous, it doesn’t work, it’s a round peg in a square hole. It is amazing greatness juxtaposed with terrible badness; this is great for highlighting differences, but is (or should be) counterintuitive when employed for the purpose of making comparisons!

Anyone who kneels before the divine might of Rock n’ Roll should be personally offended by the statement in question. Television or Alien Ant Farm, come on. Please!

There are no black and white words to succinctly explain this problem, but it helps to think of the kaleidoscopic color and staggering beauty of Tom Verlaine’s guitar…and to even suggest a relationship between the grand Television and the nearly nameless losers (yes, it’s personal) who became famous for an extremely poor Michael Jackson cover…well, it’s criminal. And it’s far from smooth.

This is perhaps implicative of the trouble with bands like the Strokes, who borrow great sounds from the canon, thus diluting them and adulterating the purity of rock music. It is my suggestion that Rock n’ Roll be appreciated for what it is and not debased by painfully erroneous comparisons.