Julian on Letterman

11 01 2010

Here’s Julian Casablancas and his touring band (including the old Strokes guru J.P. Bowersock on guitar) performing “Out of the Blue” on Letterman January 6. Sounds good. I love the head-to-toe leather on Casablancas. He looks like a 21st-century Elvis. Which got me reflecting on the dearth of swaggering, rocksure frontman these days (or lead guitarists, or just bands in general). Is rock with swagger over? Compare this performance with any performance by Vampire Weekend, who has released two very nice records and performs well live, but is always polite and cute. Faux-psychedelia, or beard rock, such as Animal Collective or Yeasayer, is hip these days, and the eunuch-chorus approach favored by the Dirty Projectors and Grizzly Bear is quite popular. But of the “serious,” “good” “rock” bands out there, who has any swagger? Of Montreal is another exception, although that’s more homoerotic campy theater than swagger, per se. Another note: if you go back and look at the Strokes on Letterman doing “Take It or Leave It,” and then watch the Arctic Monkeys, one of the many bands they influenced or even gave birth to, doing a cover of their song, you’ll see that no one can match them at their own game.


(Don’t get me wrong, Arctic Monkeys is a fine band, with sound musicians and a great lyricist and singer in Alex Turner, but they don’t have that X-factor that Julian and the Strokes have.)

TWO CAVEATS: Jack White is another swagger-er, forgot him for a second. And Kings of Leon I was going to nominate, but while they rock, their frontman doesn’t have swagger (just a strange, sexy southern voice).

Swagger (definition via Urban Dictionary):

Swagger is to to move with confidencesophistication and to be cool.
Swagger is to conduct your self in a way that would automaticaly earn respect
To dress in a very stylish and quirkily fasionable way would suggest one is swagger.

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