(here’s a piece I wrote for Propaganda recently, and in putting it on here I did get a bit picture happy. Do you know how hard it is to find a good picture of Arctic Monkeys?! Insane. Anyway, all this babbling aside, I have an essay to write, and some more reviews to post for you to read, the bane of being a third year student…)
So who is the ultimate noughties band? With more than a few contenders, and more than a few of those have changed my life one way or another, we here at Propaganda felt that once and for all that it was about time we had the ultimate Battle Of The Bands.
Let’s start where it all began for me: 2004’s new-art rock revolution. Franz Ferdinand may not have been the first band of the era that captured my imagination (we’ll save that story for later) but they served the purpose of my first proper gig, at Manchester Apollo on October 26th 2004. Their brand of angular art-pop didn’t just transfix my 13-year-old subconscious but the rest of the countries too. Their self-titled debut album crashed into the Top 3 and managed to scoop a Mercury Music Prize, and the band went on to headline Leeds festival in 2006. They also produced a further two fantastic albums, with yet more of their art-rock (and the brilliantly catchy single Do You Wanna) on ‘You Could Have It So Much Better’ and the utterly danceable output of ‘Tonight: Franz Ferdinand’. Sure they’ve been quiet for a while now, but there’s no denying they made on mark on the British music scene.
Moving further south, and into my home territory, 2005/06’s New Yorkshire scene provided us with the cream of the country’s talent (and some forgotten gems by way of The Long Blondes, Milburn and Little Man Tate). One of the biggest success stories was of course Leeds’ finest the Kaiser Chiefs, with their sing-along choruses appealing to the masses. This something for everyone recipe they had saw them take to the stage second from top at 2006’s Leeds Festival, with a show befitting my first festival experience (and most of my family lost their festival virginity there too) but a band of a decade? Perhaps not, even if they did predict the riots …
Staying in familiar ground, surely there’s a case for the brothers Jarman? The Cribs not only make some of the most scathing retorts on their own scene (just look at Hey Scenesters!) but they’ve progressed from being the UK’s biggest cult band to bonafide rockstars after being joined by guitar legend Johnny Marr. Not only brilliant on record, but also the band is a frankly exhilarating live prospect that has more than once left me bruised and battered, every single time worth it though. They’ve had videos censored, slogged their guts out touring some of the smallest (and best) venues in the country and Our Bovine Public is surely one of the best tracks of the past 5 years. Surely they stake a very large claim on being a band of the decade?
One final stop in Yorkshire leads us into the realm of the Arctic Monkeys. The decade saw the band rise from a bunch of Sheffield scamps to become what can only be described as one of the best British bands ever. Their debut ‘Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not’ scooped not only the Mercury Music Prize, but it became one of the fastest selling debut albums ever. Not bad for what can only be described as ‘chip shop rock ‘n’ roll’. Sonically they’ve transformed into rock behemoths, embracing riffs and showmanship on recent releases ‘Humbug’ and ‘Suck It And See’, and they’re not afraid to take the odd risk either. How many other bands would add a Nick Cave or Shirley Bassey cover to a headline set, or even save some of their tracks for b-sides (if you’ve never heard Too Much To Ask or No Buses, I urge you to check them out). You can’t move at an indie disco for hearing their classic (and overrated) debut single ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’, so on fan support alone the band are definitely a shoo-in for band of the decade. Well read on to find out.
Treading much further down south, we reach the musical wasteland that is Leicestershire (apologies to the county there but its true). However here we meet Oasis’ natural successors Kasabian. Their debut album was filled with some of the biggest terrace filling anthems of recent years, and they’ve progressed into a psychedelic stadium-filling monster, with tracks like Empire, Fire and Vlad The Impaler becoming staples in indie clubs alongside their earlier mammoth tracks like LSF and Club Foot.
Travelling further south still (and the final band in my UK least at least, conclusively proving once and for all that the North produces better music) we reach the country’s centre, and possibly the most influential act of the decade. London Town’s very own The Libertines transformed not only my life, but many others if the number of Libs-lite bands we’ve endured since their sorry demise. Throwing out two excellent albums inbetween their rather hedonistic lifestyles, it was their second self-titled album that introduced me to the world of sex and drugs and rock and roll, luring me away from a life as a pampered pop princess. The simple call and response vocals of ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’ are heart wrenching following the debacle that surrounded the split, and no matter who tries no one quite fills the band’s void. So thankfully they ended the decade on good terms having sub-headlined Reading and Leeds, allowing those that were too young the first time the chance to experience the boys in the band from the very first time.
But we’ve still got a way to go, and the Atlantic to cross. Tennessee is not only home to the most rock and roll of drinks, Jack Daniels but also the next contenders. The Kings Of Leon may be the devil incarnate in the indie press now, selling out with tracks like Sex On Fire and Use Somebody, but at the front end of the decade they were the darlings, captivating the UK with their southern charm. Assaulting the airwaves with phenomenal tracks like Molly’s Chambers, Holly Roller Novocaine and The Bucket, it’s a shame to see them in the doghouse now. And on that note I’ll be whacking on ‘Aha Shake Heartbreak’ later.
But back to the issue in hand. Who is the Ultimate Noughties Band? In my eyes there is only really one band I could have gone for. The most influential band of the decade, they even inspired some our list to pick up guitars themselves. If you’ve not guessed yet, I am of course talking about NYC’s finest, The Strokes. 2001’s ‘Is This It’ came crashing onto our stereos at a time when we needed it most. The combination of Julian Casablancas’ sneering vocals, Albert’s frantic guitars and Fab’s machinelike drumming opened the floodgates for a whole generation of musicians. They singlehandedly made it cool to play guitar again, allowing us a deluge of boys in leather jackets giving us their all. Many critics may have derided the follow up ‘Room On Fire’, but alongside Last Nite (they even spelt it like that, I wish I could be that cool one day) you’ll always catch 12:51 and Reptilia at any self-respecting indie night. There may have been blips, I mean ‘Angles’ is not the best and ‘First Impressions Of Earth’ is patchy, but they are the originals (at least in this decade) and frankly they do it best. ‘Is This It’ still sounds as fresh as it did 10 years ago, and the band still sit among my most listened to artists ever. And while we don’t see them touching down on our shores as often as we’d like (I’m still yet to see the band, heartbreakingly) but give the boys credit, few bands are still as relevant 10 years on from their debut. So for that reason, and for many many more, no other band can take this crown. And to be honest can you argue with 3.5 million album sales worldwide? No, no you can’t.