Friday, 4 December 2009

Artist of the Decade - Arctic Monkeys

In a decade that has inexplicably reinstated the synthesizer as cool, let Simon Cowell’s wallet grow by several million inches and almost allowed Katie Price to perform at Eurovision for our proud nation , it’s difficult to know whether to be thankful or not.

We’ve the seen the rise of Kings of Leon with their tousled moustache love, howling and fowling it’s way to the top, watched Oasis reach the bottom of their own mucky bucket, observed the King of Pop fall gracelessly into his grave and witnessed the birth of Sheffield’s Arctic Monkeys.

As far as fresh British acts go, Arctic Monkeys have taken biscuit, winning over teens heading for their twenties with their raucous riff heavy stomps, eclectic observations allied by the quick wit of Alex Turner. In short, they produced something almost anybody could relate their own lives to; the tales of late night shenanigans presented through Turner’s amusing anecdotal social commentary was to the point and merciless, he told it like it was.

Their story starts in the cellar of Sheffield’s Boardwalk, amongst beer barrels, fairy lights and a group of budding musicians who ended up putting the Steel City back on the musical map. There was an electricity and an unorganised madness to their first live show, as there was at all of Arctic’s opening stint of gigs in their hometown and this energy was further emulated by their meteoric rise to the top and the instant success of their Mercury award winning debut album, ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’, which made British chart history.

The previously damned idea of file sharing and internet obsession came to the aid of Arctic Monkeys in their early days and as word began to spread through cyber space their back catalogue seemed to grow. Rough demos cut at Sheffield’s 2 Fly Studios (named after the infamous cellar show) were everywhere and debut single, ‘Five Minutes With Arctic Monkeys’ sold out on pre-order sales alone. You pretty much know the rest.

One of the finest things about this band is that they’ve always done things their own way, they’ve always moved on from the point they last touched and don’t look back. They’ve shunned the fat cats, refused Top of the Pops and given the one finger salute to the Brit awards; most artists would give up their guitars for the power that Arctic Monkeys have created for themselves.

This power translates on their third and latest long-player, ‘Humbug’. Moving far away from the social scrutiny that took the world by storm and their native lands, they moved to the Mojave Desert to famously record with Josh Homme. The final result shows the musicianship has changed and now carries a certain psychedelic grandeur while the lyrics are all the more poetic and worldly. Although it’s not been an instant hit with their die hard, they once again powered their way to the top of the musical tree, outselling the rest of the top five on the week of release.

The question for the doubters must be asked; what would you have really thought if you got another ‘Whatever People Say I Am...’? Not a lot. That’s what.

There is something to be thankful for after all.

The Best of the Rest:

1. Arctic Monkeys

2. Kings of Leon

3. Eels

4. The White Stripes

5. The Libertines

6. Ryan Adams

7. The Strokes

8. Radiohead

9. Kasabian

10. Bob Dylan

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