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Middle Of Nowhere
by Hot Hot Heat
listener.rating 4.9/6 by 38 listeners
Heard by 109,009 since Jun 12 '05
Last spun 6 days ago
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March 2002

New York band the Strokes have ignited a deafening buzz in the music industry with their debut album "Is This It," and following their debut U.S. single "Lastnite," they land in the radio.wazee spotlight with "Hard To Explain."

Inspired by Buddy Holly and John Lennon as well as by fellow New Yorkers Television and the Velvet Underground, the Strokes have been the subject of an enormous amount of hype, particularly from the U.K. music press. The Britsí adoration of the group has even rivaled their fervor for Oasis in the early Ď90s. Case in point, the Strokes were the big winners at the 2002 NME Carling Awards across the pond, picking up awards for Best Band, Best Album, and Best New Act to lead the 2002 winners' field.

The bandís well-heeled line-up, singer/songwriter Julian Casablancas, guitarists Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond Jr., bassist Nikolai Fraiture and drummer Fabrizio Moretti, was barely in their twenties when "Is This It?" arrived in 2001. Casablancas (the son of Elite modeling agency kingpin John Casablancas), Moretti (who began playing drums at age five) and Valensi started playing together in 1998 while they attended Manhattan's private prep school Dwight School. Soon after, they met Fraiture, who attended the Upper East Side's Le Cest Francais, and added him to their ranks. Hammond (the son of singer/songwriter Albert Hammond, whose songs include "It Never Rains in Southern California" and "To All the Girls I've Loved Before") came from Los Angeles to attend film school at NYU and was invited into the band by Casablancas. The two met at L'Institut Le Rosey in Switzerland when they were kids. Casablancas officially christened the quintet the Strokes in 1999, and the group spent most of that year writing and rehearsing material in New York City's Music Building.

The Strokes made their live debut that fall, and word of mouth about the bandís incendiary live show propelled them to gigs at hot clubs all over NYC. As Strokes-mania reached critical mass in New York, a major-label bidding war ensued, which RCA emerged from as the victors. Meanwhile, the Strokes' acclaim reached the U.K. and grew to massive proportions over the course of the year. NME profiled the band several times as the Strokes' live act and singles like "Hard to Explain" (previously released in the U.K.) won them a rabid British following. That spring, the band also completed their first U.S. tour as the opening act for critical favorites the Doves and proceeded to play dates with Guided By Voices and And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead in the U.S. and the U.K. The group's popularity continued to snowball in the U.K., with a side stage slot at the NME Carling Weekender changed to a main stage performance for fear of people trampling each other to see the band.

When "Is This It?" was released in the U.S. late this summer, it featured a few changes from the U.K. edition. The cover art featuring a photo of a womanís nude behind and hip with a leather-gloved hand resting on it was replaced with an abstract pattern, and the song "NYC Cops" was removed. The band felt the song was inappropriate in the wake of the terrorist attacks that struck New York September 11th. The planned B-side "When It Started" took its place.

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