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Tuesday, 22 October, 2002, 09:32 GMT 10:32 UK
New bands race for rock stardom
The Vines
Australian band The Vines have found success in the US

A string of new bands have burst onto the scene and been hailed as the saviours of rock and roll. But are they the next big things or built on hype?
"Rock is back!" screamed the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in September with a relish that told its readers that it was time to get very excited.

The United States music bible was picking up on the buzz about a swarm of new bands who were being tipped as future stars.

The Strokes
The Strokes: Supported the Rolling Stones
And by rock, it meant the reckless, raucous rock and roll that goes hand-in-hand with sex and drugs.

It had nothing to do with other recent scenes like anodyne nu metal, cheeky Britpop or the sensitive "new acoustic movement".

Effortlessly cool New Yorkers The Strokes started things off in 2001 with their retro style that came straight from the city's 1970s punk scene.

Since then, a growing number of groups have ridden the "new rock" wave, fuelled by a frustration with the tepid post-Nirvana guitar scene.

Form your own "new rock" band
You will need:
To be thin
To be male
To be white
To have dark hair
To have a band name starting with "The..."
To wear tight T-shirts or leather jackets
To know a maximum of three guitar chords
But in 2002, the trickle has turned into a torrent and new bands are appearing almost as quickly as the music press can declare them the next big things.

To some, it is the most exciting thing to happen to music for years, while others have dismissed the scene as unoriginal, image-conscious and tuneless.

"The first wave of those bands - The Strokes and The White Stripes - were really exciting and will probably be with us for a long while," says Joe Taylor, music editor of industry newsletter Record of the Day.

"But now, by the time any new band who has black hair, black clothes, pale skin and was influenced by New York's new wave was signed and put a record out, it would really be desperately boring."

The Hives at the Q Awards
The Hives: Won Q Award for best live act

The New Musical Express (NME) magazine has been one of the scene's biggest supporters, and writer James Oldham argues that guitar music is now at its best since the days of Oasis and Blur in the mid-90s.

"It's young, sexy, it looks good, it goes back to the old days," he says.

"It's fun as well - it's not dour 'feel my pain' music. It's good-time music."

Bands like The Strokes have "changed the musical landscape" by reminding people what rock and roll is about, he says.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Among the leaders of the New York scene

And exhilarating live shows are vital to the new scene's success, according to Paul Cox, of record label and gig promoters Artrocker.

"For it to really become something a little bit more important than this week's NME thing, we've got to get people start coming out to grassroots gigs," he says.

He thinks The Strokes and The White Stripes are as good as Nirvana - but that it is still too early to tell whether the latest crop of rockers can throw up anybody capable of becoming the voice of this generation.

The hottest "new rock" bands

The Strokes

The first to discover that the leather jackets and scratchy riffs of the 70s New York scene are the perfect antidotes to nu-metal and melancholic mainstream rock.

In 2002, they won a Brit award, headlined the Reading Festival and supported the Rolling Stones.

The Vines

Australian four-piece whose singer Craig Nicholls spits out ferocious, visceral anthems in a disturbing way.

The band draw comparisons with Nirvana, and Nicholls is a prime candidate for anti-hero status. Their debut album went to number three in the UK chart and number 11 in the US.

Jack White of The White Stripes
Jack White is The White Stripes' charismatic singer
The White Stripes

Detroit's raw rock revivalists Jack and Meg White became tabloid stars when their UK tour took off in 2001.

They say they are brother and sister, but rumours suggest they are a divorced couple - either way, their energetic songs have put them in the top league.

The Datsuns

These New Zealand newcomers are the country's biggest musical export since Crowded House.

After creating a buzz when they supported The White Stripes, their debut UK single, In Love, went to number 25 in the chart.

The Hives

This Swedish group dress only in black and white and their theatrical stage show is more entertaining than the music itself.

Influenced by the garage rock of the 60s and 70s, they have come up with some good tunes like Main Offender, which became the soundtrack for a banned lingerie advert featuring Kylie Minogue.

The Libertines
The Libertines: Leading the crop of UK contenders
The Libertines

The scene's leading UK group, The Libertines' tour manager recently quit in disgust at the group's debauched behaviour.

Taking rock and roll excess to the extreme, they have come up with an album (produced by The Clash's Mick Jones) with very English influences that has spawned a top-30 single.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

One of the few groups fronted by a woman, their shows have seen Karen O do cartwheels across the stage and pour beer over herself.

But their music is raw and punchy with a pop sensibility that transports listeners back to New York's legendary CBGBs club and has the potential to find a home in the charts.

Moco: Slowly attracting attention in the UK

More UK contenders, Moco hail from Wigan and put a jerky, upbeat spin on The Strokes' retro sound.

Their lead singer, Steve "Mobile" Jones, is Jarvis Cocker to the power of 10 and does head-stands and scissor-kicks on stage.

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