I first listened to Arctic Monkeys in early 2009, just before 'Humbug' came out. I had known about them for a while, but for some reason I’d never got around to listening to them, until one day I decided to check out what the hype was all about. Like most people, as such is the custom, the first song of theirs I came across was ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’, and – as it did with everyone - it blew my mind. I got my hands on ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ and devoured it in a day.
I would listen to it back to front, over and over again. Soon after, I got my hands on ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’, and there I discovered an album that will stay with me for the rest of my life. 'Brianstorm' felt like a rave, 'Teddy Picker' a riot, 'Fluorescent Adolescent' a walk in the park, and 'Do Me A Favour' the purest heartbreak a teenager can feel with admittedly limited experience.
I could go on about how wonderful each song in that album is, but that is not what this article is about. Although I love all of their albums to date, it is without doubt that the sound of those albums - followed so excellently from Pete Doherty and The Libertines - has been replaced with the more generic sounds of 60s/70s classic pop rock.
Fair play to them, but when listening to AM, I immediately miss the short-lived sound of early-noughties British Indie. Franz Ferdinand’s last album, 'Right Words, Right Thoughts, Right Actions', helped in quenching that thirst, but it was Dirty Green Vinyl that really showed me that the wonderful sound of garage rock is still relevant.
It is hard to describe what was so special about this style, the simple structure, the rawness of the recording and instrumentation is definitely a component of it but many other waves of music had that. It was the unhinged nature of the music that really made it stand out. The music was very much the equivalent of speed; every moment feels as if an explosion is going to go off. It is a kind of music that so eloquently reflects the pent up rage that we feel as teenagers and young adults.
Dirty Green Vinyl embodies this music with songs that feel like they should belong in an Arctic Monkeys album that would have been released between 'Whatever People Say I Am...' and 'Favourite Worst Nightmare'. Despite this they still manage to have their own identity within their music.
I was first introduced to Dirty Green Vinyl through the music video for their single 'Don’t Wanna Know'. A wonderfully minimalistic video that simply showed the three of them playing the song in an attic, it represented everything the song was: simple three-chord rock, unaltered in any way, and with a Pixies-esque loud-quiet dynamic which made it indie garage rock all over. From listening to this song, I went on to explore more of their tracks. Tracks like 'Looking Down' and 'B.A.B.Y.' were wonderfully cool, with strong instrumental lines and curiously softly-sung lyrics about the relations we have, and the people we meet between 16 and 26.
All these songs feel and sound like Arctic Monkeys, but what really sets them aside from any other Alex Turner-wannabe bands are songs like 'Scheming Companions', which have great synergy between the lead and back up vocals, or my personal favourite, 'Brain Dance', which introduces elements of psychedelic to the mix - an innovation independent of their erstwhile influences.
What they play is punk, the kind of music that shows little care for fancy equipment and overcomplicated songs. It is the kind of music that talks to anyone who spent hours in his or her room as a teenager listening to the Clash. In many ways it is the music of identity, in their case of the youth of Leeds but still talks to anyone who has a love for rock, punk and the tradition of British indie talk about in detail before.
Their discography is nebulous and scattered about, comprising of a handful of EPs, LPs and singles released at different times and different points, but if you're after the original sound of the Arctic Monkeys in a modern form, look no further than Dirty Green Vinyl.