‘The New Rock Revolution’ was a snapshot of a moment; fresh, loud and energetic, the NME-curated CD compilation included a bevy of 2002’s hottest emerging guitar bands, from The Libertines to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The 15-track collection offered a journey through the New York City indie scene – with features from its transatlantic peers – of the early ‘00s, as a new generation of artists created a movement in the Big Apple that would go on to impact the style and pace of rock music around the world.
At the time of release, former NME editor Conor McNicholas said of the compilation: “Once in a generation something so revolutionary happens in music that afterwards nothing is ever the same again. Right now, that’s exactly what’s happening.” He added: “This CD is the sound of this new rock revolution and we can assure you it’s the most upfront, exciting and finger-on-the-pulse music compilation you’ll get all year. There’s just one thing we ask – play it very, very loud.”
It was music of its time and place, and ‘The New Rock Revolution’ kick-started a new era of web-driven fandom for guitar bands that were reviving garage rock and post-punk sounds. Rock journalist Lizzy Goodman went on to explore its cultural impact in the Meet Me In The Bathroom, which features interviews with members of the bands from the CD, as well as prominent musicians from the wider scene, including The Strokes and LCD Soundsystem. The book has since been adapted into an acclaimed documentary, detailing the continued influence of early ‘00s rock and the culture that surrounded its key artists.
Ahead of the UK release of the film – which will premiere at an exclusive NME Screens event at London’s Rich Mix on March 9 – we look back at the tracks that made the compilation, and where the featured artists are today.
The Libertines – ‘Boys In The Band’
Who: Murky yet masterful rockers that livened up early ‘00s British indie
The song: As sprawling, lairy and romantic as The Libertines themselves, ‘Boys In The Band’ unpacks the level of attention that bands du jour warrant. The melody soars along on the instant gratification of solid, driving rhythms while maintaining strong hooks that nod to simple rock ‘n’ roll thrills.
What happened next: A raucous few years followed, which saw The Libertines hang up their trademark red military jackets and take an extended hiatus as they were no longer willing to tour while frontman Pete Doherty overcame addiction issues. After they eventually reunited in 2014, the band would go on to tour extensively, including a huge headline show at London’s Hyde Park and multiple surprise appearances at Glastonbury.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – ‘Miles Away’
Who: The most flamboyant band to emerge from New York’s class of ‘01
The song: Lifted from Yeah Yeah Yeah’s zingy self-titled debut EP, ‘Miles Away’ offered an exciting, early taste of the vibrant, amplified rock sound the band would come to hone throughout the noughties. Karen O draws out deep emotions from her formidable voice, which curls and twangs with real electricity.
What happened next: The celebrated trio would go on to shape the fierce ambition of their early days into some of the most bold and refreshing rock music of the following decade. After playing their first proper show supporting the White Stripes at NYC’s Mercury Lounge, they rose out of the city’s downtown scene, with a Grammy-nominated debut in ‘Fever To Tell’.
The Beatings – ‘What You Say’
Who: Once part of the “bohemian east London guitar scene”, according to NME
The song: This early demo demonstrates how The Beatings were eager to get a head start into the rock mainstream. A balancing act of melody and menace, the track’s jagged feel only amplifies the grit in their group harmonies.
What happened next: Shortly after the release of ‘What You Say’, The Beatings were told to change their moniker, having been served notice by the Boston band of the same name. The band broke up soon after, and neglected to finish the debut album they were working on at the time. What could have been…
The Von Bondies – ‘My Baby’s Cryin’
Who: Scrappy alt-rock gang from downtown Detroit
The song: The Von Bondies broke through off the back of the graft they put in across their local circuit, which led them to sign with Sypathy For The Record Industry (a previous label of Hole and The White Stripes). ‘My Baby’s Cryin’ was one of their earliest tracks, and a fine example of their super-tight twin guitar sound.
What happened next: After their second album, 2004’s ‘Pawn Shoppe Heart’ became a runaway hit, the band joined that year’s NME Awards tour across the UK with Franz Ferdinand, The Rapture and Funeral For A Friend. At the Cardiff gig, however, bassist Carrie Smith fell over during a stage invasion, and was taken to hospital for minor injuries. That rock ‘n’ roll, eh…
The Datsuns – ‘Little Bruise (SBN Live Session)’
Who: New Zealand’s hardest, gnarliest rock exports
The song: Recorded straight to tape for a radio session, this rendition of ‘Little Bruise’ – an unreleased demo from one of The Datsuns’ first studio trips – proves that this band were garage rockers in the purest sense: the recording features blasts of screaming vocals, and no ethereal reverb. The electrifying hunger of the band’s early days is on display in all its glory.
What happened next: The group’s self-titled debut album went on to top the charts in their homeland, and broke the Top 20 in the UK. The Datsuns progressed into a heavier rock sound with each new release, and wound up appearing at Ozzy Osbourne’s Ozzfest in 2003, before supporting Metallica on tour the year after.
Ikara Colt – ‘At The Lodge’
Who: Mod era obsessives who burst out of art school with a noisy mission
The song: On ‘At The Lodge’ Ikara Colt’s lack of urgency was designed to be enthralling. As established on their debut ‘Chat And Business’, the art-punks would often tiptoe where other bands would jump and shout, making for a consistent, if subtle, approach to guitar music led by a barely-there bass rumble.
What happened next: After proclaiming in interviews that “all groups should be shot after five years”, the band stuck to their word and bowed out gracefully in 2005. Like many British groups of their era, Ikara Colt met while studying art at university, and the split encouraged the members to return to pursuing their artistic endeavours.
The Cooper Temple Clause – ‘Amber’
Who: Now-defunct group that held a reputation for raucous live shows
The song: This understated, slow-burning anthem shoots off in unexpected directions: urgent, angsty guitars contend with a rasping vocal and gentle electronic flourishes, making for a gripping listen. Two decades on, it still sounds concise, sharp and powerful.
What happened next: Before the Berkshire band split for good in 2007, their appearances at Reading festival and an NME Awards show at London’s legendary – yet now demolished – Astoria marked them out as a thrilling, unpredictable live act. “Their energy is relentless,” reads an NME review from 2003. “They’re bone-rattlingly bonkers.”
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – ‘Waiting Here’
Who: Leather jacket-clad garage rock revivalists
The song: In a bumper, new music-focused issue of NME at the start of 2002, the West Coast quartet were touted “the leaders of the pack” as that year saw a legion of buzzy guitar bands emerge. ‘Waiting Here’ shows a level of poise and cool that separated this band from their peers; the track’s spiralling momentum is offset by guitars and an echoing vocal. It’s subdued and strangely beautiful.
What happened next: Seven albums and a lineup change later, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are still touring, and still have the attitude and musical prowess to pull off their biggest tunes. They are now recognised as one of the earliest acts to lead the ‘00s garage rock revival, which picked up speed with Kings of Leon in the mid-noughties.
Interpol – ‘Specialist’
Who: NYC’s very own doom-rock survivors
The song: By settling into a dark mood that, 21 years on, still feels compelling and gorgeously arranged, ‘Specialist’ welcomed listeners into Interpol’s sleek, goth-lite aesthetic. Lightly vocoded vocal effects and shifting bass established the brooding undercurrent that would characterise their music for years to come.
What happened next: After featuring on the soundtrack for the first session of hit teen drama The OC, ‘Specialist’ continues to stand as one of Interpol’s most popular tracks. The band, meanwhile, have continued to be a presence at major festivals across the globe, and will take their 2022 album ‘The Other Side Of Make-Believe’ on the road this summer.
The Thrills – ‘Santa Cruz (You’re Not That Far)’
Who: Vintage-inspired five-piece who found fans in Oasis and U2
The song: The smooth and seemingly carefree aura of ‘Santa Cruz (You’re Not That Far)’ may make the song something of an outlier on ‘The New Rock Revolution’, but it manages to amass minor details to major effect. Four minutes of sweet, heartfelt melodies that evoke the warmth of The Turtles,
What happened next: After releasing their debut EP, the band flew to LA to record their debut album ‘So Much For The City’, which was released in 2003 and was nominated for the Mercury Prize. The band went on to support Oasis, R.E.M and U2 on their huge, respective tours across the US, Canada and Europe throughout the mid-’00s. Since 2010, the band have remained on indefinite hiatus.
The Coral – ‘Time Travel’
Who: Wirral legends that have dabbled in indie, psych and jangle pop
The song: A hidden bonus track on the band’s eponymous debut, it’s nigh on impossible to predict exactly where the ska-influenced ‘Time Travel’ is going to go – and therein lies the joy. Much like the album it closes – which NME named “most refreshing British debut in years” upon release – there’s a relaxed expansiveness to ‘Time Travel’ and its gentle changes in texture and sound.
What happened next: 2002 catapulted The Coral into mainstream consciousness as they were nominated for the Mercury Prize, and delivered a chart-topping second album in ‘Magic And Medicine’ the year after. Yet their latest full-length effort, 2021’s ‘Coral Island’, was widely considered a career-best achievement, proving the band’s creative longevity is in rude health.
Radio 4 – ‘New Disco’
Who: Brooklyn punks that were once the beating heart of NYC’s punk scene
The song: The youthful, bug-eyed intensity of Radio 4’s formative years was a powerful thing. The melody-averse ‘New Disco’ strides forward with a careening intensity that could only come from a band on the verge of a breakthrough moment, favouring a shout-speak delivery and atmosphere. In short, it still sounds gnarly as fuck.
What happened next: Shortly after the five-piece released their second LP ‘‘Gotham!’, vocalist Anthony Roman opened a record store in Brooklyn, which soon became a hub for the borough’s emerging scene. After releasing a further two albums, Radio 4 last appeared together as a full band at the CBGB Festival in New York in 2012.
The D4 – ‘Get Loose’ (Alternative version)
Who: One of the ‘00s dirtiest and coolest garage rock bands
The song: The wickedly fidgety ‘Get Loose’ centres around a bold statement of purpose: “I keep my head on, I keep shaking / No, I gotta get out!”, affirms vocalist Dion Palmer. Doubling up as a tale of blind ambition and day-to-day frustration, the track nods to hints of ‘70s post-punk while projecting a level of fury. Simple but strong stuff.
What happened next: The flame that burns twice as bright lasts half as long, they say, and for The D4, there’s some truth in that. After presenting themselves as promising rock upstarts, the band supported The Hives on a UK tour and released two albums before announcing an indefinite break from the music industry – and there’s been complete radio silence from them since.
The Music – ‘Jag Tune’
Who: Leeds guitar clan who conjured the ecstatic energy of a rave
The song: Moving The Music’s rattling, punk-inspired sound to something more pop-facing, ‘Jag Tune’ has its layered guitars tethered to dancefloor-primed drums – one of the track’s many unanticipated thrills. The hooky immediacy of the melody is surely a standout moment on ‘The New Rock Revolution’: as it rattles along, it constantly promises that something very exciting is about to happen, then delivers.
What happened next: After churning out three Top 20 albums, The Music initially called it a day in 2011, before reforming in 2020 and selling out Leeds’ Temple Newsam Park two years later. In their early days, they progressed from working as an unsigned band to performing on Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage in less than two years.
NME Screens Meet Me In The Bathroom will take place on Thursday March 9 at Rich Mix in Shoreditch, London. Tickets are free, and sign up is available via DICE.
Meet Me In The Bathroom will be released in UK and Irish cinemas from Friday March 10.