[13 October 2005]
No matter whether you love or hate (or ignore) the Strokes, their contribution to rock music is undeniable these days. Even if you consider that contribution in non-musical terms, Is This It is a major turning point in the trajectories of countless bands making records today. I’d like to see a line graph that maps the surging number of rock combos that formed and/or elevated in its wake. The Bravery and the Stills would still be playing bad ska. Interpol and the Rapture would still be playing exclusive loft parties in Brooklyn. And bands like the Velvet Underground and Blondie would still be underappreciated by most everyone under 30.
Nowadays when a band of twentysomethings quotes Television as a major influence, logic follows who their gateway band of choice is. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s completely understandable and almost necessary that the disciples trigger those alarms of influence for the uninitiated. It’s about sharing right? Well, yes, but some kids should stick to listening to Marquee Moon and forget about writing their own mediocre versions of that work of art.
The Eames Era formed at university and probably spent their parents’ money on records rather than books. They may have even lost their virginity at some point, but I seriously doubt it was any good. This, their debut full-length, reeks of forced effort and is devoid of spontaneity or charisma. You can watch all the pornography in the world (impossible), but you won’t be able to fuck your way out of a paper bag if you don’t pull the passion from your insides. The Eames Era is young and its members probably can’t believe they’re actually doing it, but that kind of immature approach proves tiresome when it’s not backed with intensity. This kind of predictable stroking is not a turn on.
Since the band must’ve confused praise for Fab Moretti’s mechanical drumming as an all-inclusive guideline to music making, Double Dutch is almost robotic in its pace. At one point on “Talk Talk” they strike an interesting idea—false alarm, that’s just the CD skipping. I don’t know, maybe the Eames Era will be content with a song featured on the forthcoming Songs Inspired by The OC compilation. Maybe they’re just having fun being in a band playing lighthearted, derivative pop rock. Maybe I’m a jerksnake and should give these boys and girl credit for their slick melodies. Forget that, I’m amazing and “this sucks”. I played this album for my sister to confirm my aversion and that’s a direct quotation, and thus sustenance for my deteriorating journalistic integrity.
The Eames Era’s “hey we’re doing the Strokes thing, but with a female vocalist” vibe doesn’t do much to neutralize their deficient personality. In fact, the grating and distractingly incompatible vocals of Ashlin Phillips only call more attention to the band’s plagiarized template. That said, imitation is flattery and the root of some of the best albums ever. However, the Eames Era forget the spirit part of inspiration and focus on the insipid. There is so much guts and feeling in the ‘70s punk-and-after scene that it’s a shame so many young bands are only focusing on the literal. Like so many Strokes clones, there’s nothing to feel on this album. It’s just guitars and voice and drums diluted from the energy of bygone heroes.