Alex Turner is simply the Dylan and Gallagher of my generation tied in one. The Arctic Monkeys have shaped the views of a generation and that would not be the case without the wit and wisdom that Alex Turner, who is still only 25, holds. I’m not going to ramble on about how much I love Turner but what I will do is give you three extracts of of his best work in my opinion.
A Certain Romance.
The story of the different social paths people seem to take whether it be emos, chavs or scene kids. This song describes what it’s like growing up in a normal British town better than any song I have ever heard.
‘Well oh they might wear classic Reeboks
Or knackered Converse
Or tracky bottoms tucked in socks
But all of that’s what the point is not
The points that’s there ain’t no romance around there
And there’s the truth that they can’t see
They’d probably like to throw a punch at me
And if you could only see them, then you would agree
Agree that there ain’t no romance around there’
This song describes a break up and the emotions you feel better than any song or poem that I have ever come across. This song is one of the best with regards to touching people as it’s topic is so common but it’s content is so fluent.
‘I’m going back to 505,
If it’s a 7 hour flight or a 45 minute drive,
In my imagination you’re waiting lying on your side,
With your hands between your thighs,
Stop and wait a sec,
Oh when you look at me like that my darling,
What did you expect,
I probably still adore you with your hands around my neck,
Or I did last time I checked,’
Possibly a song about Cannabis? Apart from the references to ‘chewing chins’, this song seems to mention the thrills and spills of being a rockstar due to the references to ‘bellybutton piercings’ implying possible encounters with groupies/easy women. For me it’s a standout track on Suck It And See and if you compare A certain romance to this, you will truly see just how much Turner has progressed as a lyricists/poet.
‘Lately I’ve been seeing things
Belly button piercings
In the sky at night
When we’re side by side
And I don’t mean to rain
On anybody cabriolet
One of those games
You’re gonna lose
But you wanna play it
Just in case,’
‘Does it help you stay up late?
Does it help you concentrate?
Does it tune you in
When you chew your chin?
Am I ruining your fun?’
I have recently finished my GCSE exams and are now somewhat in limbo as I have gone from at least three months of revising for hours and hours each day, to now having over four months to do sweet fanny adams.
I had nineteen exams in total (which seems bizarre as I will only obtain ten GCSEs) spanning out over a five week period. I see myself as someone who is always up for a challenge and is reasonably accademically adequate but even I found that at an age of fifteen the pressure and stress that exams of this magnitude put on you is almost too much. So why do we have to do exams? Well the answer to that is simple, they are stepping stones that enable us to progress further in the academic world in the hope that the light at the end of the tunnel will provide us with a nice, comfortable, well paid job, but this isn’t always the case…
In this current economic climate there are far too many graduates and not enough jobs which means that it seems that getting a degree and now having to pay nine grand a year (in UK) seems not a very appealing prospect. It’s not even as if people aren’t getting the grades to get into university it’s just that there aren’t any jobs! Take medicine for example, you now need normally at least one A* and two A’s at A level to just get into the course and there’s no guarantee of a job at the end of it! I aspire to study law in a few years and the entry requirements for that for a decent university are AAB which seems reltively doable but what’s the point if I can’t get a job at the end of it and only come out of university with humungous debts hanging around my neck. Also some of the richest men in the world don’t even have degrees, take Bill Gates, he dropped out of Harvard before finishing his course. I mean, Bill Gates, the man who you would automatically assume has multiple degrees doesn’t even have one!!!
I guess what I’m getting at here is that, yes exams are important but hard work are probably more important but by have some form of qualification behind you stands you in good stead for the future. I probably will end up going to university and I probably will face all the challenges I have mentioned in this article but I think it’s worth it if you suceed and exams give you a few little gold stars by the side of your name and it looks like for the future graduates of my generation we’re going to need all the gold stars we can get our desperate little paws on!
I’m guessing that for most of you who are Americans Arctic Monkeys are somewhat of a band that are relatively unknown and lack any real importance in American society and why should they as you simply couldn’t get any more British than the Arctic Monkeys? This means that you’ll be unaware of the hype that has surrounded this band since the days of selling out the London Astoria to being the youngest band to ever top the bill on the Pyramid Stage. Admittedly I understand that if you’re a non Brit you would struggle to comprehend, firstly what Alex Turner is going on about regarding his lyrics, and secondly what all the fuss is about if you listen to Suck It and See’s predecessors, but this album is different simply because all of the people who didn’t ‘understand’ what the Monkeys were trying to achieve with the first three records will do in this one.
With the somewhat disappointment that Humbug inflicted on some fans, including myself, there was no doubt that the band had to step up to the plate with this record and at the same time producing something new and fresh and I’m sorry but I can’t help but ruin the surprise but they have certainly done this and have exceeded any expectations I had for this record!
The record opener, ‘She’s Thunderstorms’, starts off with the jangly Smiths- esque guitar sound before Turner’s vocals come oozing in, ushering the classic tongue twisters and wit that we have come to expect of this band such as ‘she’s been loop the looping around my mind’ and references to ‘motorcycle boots’. The thing that the Monkeys have done on all of their records is start the album off with a track that is very blunt and tells you exactly what type of record it is going to be and ‘thunderstorms’ is definitely the best track for this. There are songs such as ‘Hellcat Spangled Shalala’ that seem to be a continuation of tracks such as ‘Cornerstone’ that were on Humbug but add chilling elements of bands such as Echo & The Bunnymen and The Smiths which were certainly two bands I thought I’d never be comparing the Arctic Monkeys to.
The track that the band released as a sort of ‘teaser’ online, ‘Brick by Brick’, is the definition of a red herring as however simple and great this song is, it is full of things such as mindless lyrics and ‘ooos’ and ‘ahh’s that we thought were things we would never hear on a Monkeys record. There are glimpses of the bands time in the desert with Josh Homme on tracks such as ‘Library Pictures’ and ‘All My Own Stunts’ (where Homme sings backing vocals) but this was to be expected but the difference with everything the Monkeys have done before and everything the Monkeys have done on this record is that almost every song is in a major key allowing the band to create a perfect pop album which is exactly what this is. For me the real standout track and somewhat of a ballad is the album closer ,’That’s Where You’re Wrong’. This track is the song that really defines how far the Monkeys have come as, yet again, this could be another track that is on the album that could easily be found on albums such as ‘Ocean Rain’ and to be honest this track has a very strong resemblance to the Bunnymen’s biggest hit ‘Bring On The Dancing Horses’ but without a doubt I feel this is the standout track of the album and, like on Humbug, they picked the song ‘Cornerstone’ to influence the sound of the next album I certainly hope they opt for ‘That’s Where You’re Wrong’ this time around.
From a boy who is only 15 years old now and who is reviewing a band who’s album was the first he bought when he begged my mum to give him the £6.99 so he could buy ‘Whatever People Say…’ from the local HMV when he was only a mere 9 years he is obviously always going to keep a warm spot in his heart for the Arctic Monkeys but regardless of this even if this album was by one of the dire bands in music today such as the Kooks I’d still be raving about how great it was and still be calling it the album of the summer and undoubtedly the album of the year. From a band who have been the most hyped band since The Libertines in British music they have come to far in only 6 years and still haven’t reached their peak and more importantly have created a truly unique and different album every couple of years since 2005. In an age where popular music is so bad an samey and there are less and less half decent bands in the public eye and more and more bands doing insurance adverts we should thank God we have a band like Arctic Monkeys as they equal hope and originality and a band who will always be very close to my heart; I feel this is their best album yet and I am already exited on how they’re going to plan to top it.
To a lot of people the ‘noughties’ as they have been called, have been a very dull and bland era for the music industry but regardless of this common view there have been a great range in bands that have been very important in to progression of music and been very important to me personally.
10. Arcade Fire
If you would’ve told Arcade Fire in 2001 that in 2011 they would win album of the year ahead of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Eminem they would’ve laughed in your face simply because they simply just don’t fit into the ‘mainstream’ category but they just show you that talent does prevail and show how indie bands to be successful in the future.
Favorite songs- Ready to Start, Rebellion (Lies)
9. The Libertines
To many of my generation Pete Doherty is known more for being a junkie that for being part of the one of the most inspirational bands since Oasis. Although it is very sad that Carl Barat said this week that there is ‘no future’ for The Libertines we still have those two timeless albums to reminisce on how great The Libertines are and I’m kind of glad that they didn’t make a third album incase they ruined their legacy.
Favorite songs- Horrorshow, What Katie Did
8. Kings of Leon
Love them or hate them you can’t deny that they are a very good band and are very admirable as musicians. I started liking them after Aha Shake and have never looked back since, yes you can argue that they went mainstream but I am not ashamed to admit that live Sex On Fire is a great song and that the release of Come Around… turned many of their fake fans away for the reason that it sounded nothing like Only By… They are one of the few established bands that excite me today and even if you don’t like their recent development you can’t deny that Because of The Times is one of the albums of the decade for sure.
Favorite songs- King of the Rodeo, Knocked Up
7. Foo Fighters
Undoubtedly one of the best bands on the planet and managed to do this by not doing the obvious thing of ripping off Nirvana. Grohl is a genius, seems a very genuine guy and has the ability to write great rock songs with killer pop hooks.
Favorite songs- My Hero, Times Like These
It may be a surprise to many that they are so far up on the list but I feel that they are so important because since Oasis there hasn’t really been a proper British rock band but Kasabian managed to get across the swagger and attitude of the Gallaghers and the liveliness of dance, merge it into one and create a truly unique sound that seems almost impossible to replicate.
Favorites songs- Stuntman, Processed Beats
5. The White Stripes
Although they have now split and towards the end Jack White had his mind on other things, The White Stripes were one of the big dogs of the garage rock revival and managed to create the sound of a four piece band despite there being only two of them. Of course it’s sad that they’ve split but I’m very keen to find out what Mr White is going to do next.
Favorite songs- Hotel Yorba, Fell in Love With A Girl
4. The National
The National are the definition of a massively underrated band. With emotive lyrics that could bring a grown man to tears and music that simply oozes indie perfection it is bewildering why this band aren’t huge. In my opinion they take the best bits of Arcade Fire, put it in a blender with the emotion of Ian Curtis and form the best American indie band for a while. Although they aren’t widely known it looks as if thing are looking up due to a rise in album sales and playing third on the bill at Reading and Leeds; this is definitely a band to watch.
Favorite songs- England, Mr November
Although I’m not a massive fan, there is no denying the importance that this band have had as they show the Americans that the UK can produce something a lot better than Mumford and Sons and Coldplay. Their live shows blow your mind and they have written classic tunes that are so relevant to this era. Unlike a lot of bands that are established as Muse, they still have so more to give but the question is what will they do next?
Favorite songs- Plug in Baby, Stockholm Syndrome
2. Arctic Monkeys
In my eyes they are the best band since Oasis but show more originality and creativity. Alex Turner is definitely the best songwriter of his generation and described the every day lives of teenagers in England to absolute precision and even made a taxi ride home with your mates sound interesting. These boys show the creativity and charisma of that of The Beatles and I hope will be making music for a very long time yet. A fourth album out next month in only five years and these lads are only 25! It is very easy to see why in my eyes they are the most creative band since The Beatles, just compare songs from Whatever People Say… to that of Humbug and you’ll see what I mean.
Favorite songs- A Certain Romance, Secret Door
1. The Strokes
Do they really need an introduction? I’ll try and keep it as brief as possible so here are the facts. No Strokes = no Libertines, no Libertines = no half of the indie music heard on the radio today including Arctic Monkeys and quite simply if there was no Arctic Monkeys we would have no established bands under the age of thirty to be proud of. The Strokes made being in a band cool again when music was very similar to how it is now, their image and even their names can’t be anymore perfect and the music on Is This It recreates the music that seemed to have been so popular in the 60s (Velvet Underground) but hadn’t been uniquely recreated since. The Strokes came along when music was as stale as it is now and were certainly as unique and fresh as the Monkeys were to the British audience. Although to me Angles has been somewhat of a disappointment to me I am confident that the follow up will be far better but to be honest I’m just glad to have the most important band band of the decade back out making music again and showing all the phonies and copies in the indie world just what being a rock and roll star is all about.
Favorite songs- New York City Cops, Take It or Leave It
10. Libertines: Can’t Stand Me Now
9. The View: Wasted Little Djs
8. The Smiths: The Headmaster’s Ritual
7. Kings of Leon: King of The Rodeo
6. The Strokes: Hard to Explain
5. Joy Division: Love Will Tear Us Apart
4. Arctic Monkeys: A Certain Romance
3. New Order: Blue Monday
2. The Strokes: Last Nite
1. The Smiths: This Charming Man
I sit here, a fifteen year old boy wondering if I’m the only one who is feeling this frustrated and flabbergasted by the ignorance and stupidity of my generation with regards to music. I am a boy who is living and breathing proof of this ‘facebook’ generation and to me participating in pointless activities on my laptop and hoping that the girl I fancy has liked my photo is an everyday thing for me but when it comes down to music I just don’t have a clue what went wrong. Take a look at the artists in the top five in the charts today, they are : LMFAO, Bruno Mars, David Guetta, Chris Brown and Jennifer Lopez. First of all none of them are British and all (apart from Guetta) American which shows the dominance that our cousins show in the music industry, secondly, in my opinion, none of them are very good at all! I mean what sort of chorus ‘Party rockers in the house tonight’? And what the hell does ‘everyday i’m shuffling mean?’ Thirdly there are no guitars in site there! Come on, we Great Britain who have given the world Zeppelin, Oasis, The Stones and of course The Beatles can’t even get a guitar let alone a proper band in the top ten? What is going on?
I think it starts with the fact with that for a new band to hit the ‘big time’ straight away nowadays is something that just does not happen unless you’re someone like Scouting For Girls who is quite content with being your mum’s favorite band. I am a guitarist myself and play/have played in bands since the start of my adolescence so I have watched bands, who’s members are only a few years older than, me jack in school and start living the ‘rock and roll’ lifestyle. This is great for about a week until they realize that in fact being in a band is very much a hard task and that quitting college was not a very wise decision after all.
Let’s go back to the last British band who truly rocked the charts and made killers of the industry and blamers for it’s downfall, such as Simon Cowell, quake in their boots. I am of course talking about the mighty Arctic Monkeys. Here’s a band who broke records for album sales aged just nineteen and twenty in their sleep, mocked the BRIT awards by dressing up as country gentlemen and The Village People, didn’t want to ‘play the game’ like all pop stars in the charts do today, headlined the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury aged just twenty one and twenty two and simply wrote songs that would define a generation. They are to me what Echo & The Bunnymen are to my dad; a band that you feel were formed for you and you only. I don’t want to go on and on on why I love the Arctics so much or why I feel they deserve to be compared to The Beatles regarding musical creativity but I mention them to show that since 2005 when their debut album Whatever People Say I am That’s What I’m Not broke the record for fastest selling album in a week ( held previously Oasis’ Be Here Now) and they had two UK number ones there hasn’t been a band who has even came close to their success from day one. Sure you have bands such as Kings of Leon and Kasabian who do get the odd song in the top ten but often this song turns many of their fans away as this is them being ‘mainstream’ and the indie cynics of this world just can’t handle that. This is what I think the main problem is, guitar music is maybe not ‘dead’ but merely detached from popular culture which is fine in a way i suppose but don’t we want to hear the music that we listen to everyday independently on prime time radio so everyone else can enjoy it too? The fact is that if an established band gets a ‘hit’ then that instantly makes them ‘uncool’ and ‘mainstream’ which people tend to not like so the only way to still retain your reputation and get hit singles and number one albums consistently is go on an independent label (like the Arctics), write good songs (like the Arctics) and not write a cheesy song; but after all the Arctic Monkeys were the last band that showed that a number one single can actually mean something and is the perfect start to your career. Another major problem is that barely anyone knows who any of these iconic legends who have defined generations before the Arctic Monkeys are! Take this for example. A couple of weeks ago I was in Liverpool walking round some shops with a few of my friends and we walked into a shop that had pictures of legends such as Paul Weller and Ian Brown on t-shirts. To my amazement one of my friends said “why have they decided to stick a man who looks like a monkey on a t-shirt?” referring to Ian Brown. I turned round in disgust and gave them a brief history of The Stone Roses, how without them there would be no Oasis or Arctis Monkeys and how Liam Gallagher stole his persona from this so called ‘monkey man.’ I then played my friends a Stone Roses song and predictably they didn’t like it. After this they continued to ask me who the other gods printed on the t-shirt were and I reluctantly told them and for the rest of the day I got a bit of stick because I had actually heard of Blondie and could distinguish Serge Pizzorno from Noel Fielding. This was they day that I finally realized how bad my generation had become regarding music and that probably it is a bit too far down the line for a lot of them to be saved.
The fact is that maybe I have to accept that dancing to J-Lo at a party and pretending I don’t listen to Morrisey in my spare time is just part of being a teenager in the twenty first century but I am proud of the music that I listen to, I am proud that it may not be ‘cool’ but i don’t see how someone saying that ‘chains and whips excite them’ can talk to people more than Alex Turner describing getting in a bit of a scuffle with a bouncer. I am also not going to change my ways, I always buy CDs of my favorite bands, I only download when I can’t be bothered going to the record store and I only illegally download when it is to get rare Arctic Monkeys demos that aren’t available to buy or when it is to download some dire Black Eyed Peas song when my sister begs me to put it on her ipod for her.
I guess I’ll just have to accept the change but it seems sad that not long ago, before the invention of this that I’m writing this on, music actually seemed to be good and even when it became stale you would get an Oasis or Nirvana every four or five years to spice things up again. Don’t get me wrong they’re some great new bands out there such as The Vaccines, Funeral Party, The Joy Formidable, James Blake and the incredible Odd Future but they’re only for the NME readers and the good music lovers, no one else. I’m sure there are others of a similar age to me who feel this frustration and I know Tyler, The Creator from Odd future does as he put it simply in his song yonkers that he would ‘stab bruno mars in his goddamn esophagus’ and ‘not stop until the cops come in.’ Of course I don’t feel this strongly but it’s good to see that someone else is feeling the same sort of angst.
Of course I hope that there is a new Arctic Monkeys on the horizon but I would be being very naive as I can’t possibly image it during the state of the charts at the moment but at the same time it is something that they have been needing for a good few years. Maybe something will change but it’s up to my generation to make that change however tedious it may be but I for one are very committed to making a change whatever it may be.
I hope you have taken some of my views on board and valued my opinion but anyway I’ve got some geography homework on climate change lay beside me that hasn’t been started and it looks like it isn’t going to do itself …