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Arctic Monkeys

There are two things the British know: beer and Rock N' Roll. Both are imports yet the British treat each as their own creation. It makes sense. Pubs are an integral part of English life. Nobody goes to a pub for the food - or shouldn't. It's generally horrid. So the beer had better be superior. And it is. Rock is no less ingrained in the British experience. Ever since The Beatles conquered the world over four decades ago, the British music industry has endeavored to keep the pipeline full. It's probably the only place on earth where parents accept Rock music as a viable career path for their offspring - especially the ones who have bad attitudes and are no good in school.

When the U.K. music industry discovers a popular sound/group, they are able to produce countless clones almost at will. That's when the big British hype machine comes to life. A clunky, loud thing, it more resembles the "man behind the curtain" (as in the Wizard of Oz) than any real magic. But people get sucked in just the same. The idea is to get the Americans, and by extension the rest of the world, to buy and buy more since tax revenues from music sales are about the only thing that keeps the island afloat.

So news of the Arctic Monkeys' U.K. success (c'mon, seriously?) initially had to be viewed skeptically. They were yet another band who wore their Jam, Clash and Smiths influences on their sleeve. Toss in the White Stripes, Vines, Libertines and a scruffier take on Franz Ferdinand for mainstream accessibility. Yet even for the U.K., it looked as though the Arctic Monkeys were the real deal.

The Arctic Monkeys formed in '03. Sheffield lads Alex Turner and Jamie Cook had received guitars the previous Christmas. Soon the two were practicing together, learning songs and starting a group. A year later, they landed a deal with Domino, the same label that gave the world an over-hyped wonder, Franz Ferdinand. Hey, if you got a good thing, keep it going.

Their debut single, "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor," debuted at #1 on the singles chart. Impressive? Okay, while that almost never happens in the U.S., debuting at the top, even for new group, does occur in the U.K. - at least once or twice a year - or so it seems. Then came the '06 release of their album "Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not." This is where it got interesting. Having a hit single is no big deal but transferring that success to an album is a different story. Within days of its release the CD sold nearly 120,000 copies in the U.K., which was more than the rest of the Top 20 album chart combined.

Due to "fatigue following an intensive period of touring" Andy Nicholson left in '06. The news was later "officially" confirmed on the band's web site. "We are sad to tell everyone that Andy is no longer with the band." Another Sheffield musician, Nick O'Malley, joined as a temporary replacement for touring before signing on as a full-time member.

"Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not" won the '06 Mercury Prize (or Nationwide Mercury Prize) for the best British or Irish album of the previous 12 months. The following year they nailed Best British Group at the BRIT Awards (British Recording Industry Trust).

Arctic Monkeys unfurled "Favourite Worst Nightmare," with the single, "Brianstorm," in April, '07. The album demonstrated a little wider aperture.

Work on the group's third album, "Humbug," began in January, '08. The set was produced by Queens Of The Stone Age's John Homme (in Rancho De La Luna) and James Ford (in New York). 24 songs were distilled to the dozen that made the album.

The set's first single, "Crying Lightning," made its debut at #12 on the U.K. Top 40 but did much better on the UK Top 40 Indie Chart (#1). And just to keep from being regarded solely as a U.K. phenomena Arctic Monkeys played Lollapalooza '09 in Chicago.

A worldwide tour followed the release of "Humbug." Then the Arctic Monkeys holed up at Sound City Studios in L.A. to lay down tracks for their '11 release "Suck It And See." "Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair" was the lead single.

"Suck It And See" went to #1 in the U.K. making it their fourth straight album to top the chart.

The following year, Arctic Monkeys performed "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor" and a cover of The Beatles' song "Come Together," with Paul McCartney, at the London Summer Olympics opening ceremony. Their version of "Come Together" peaked at #21 on the UK Singles Chart, becoming Arctic Monkeys best pop chart showing since '09's "Crying Lightning."

They headlined '13's Southside Festival in Germany before announcing that the title of their fifth album was "AM." The set, also recorded in Rancho De La Luna, featured a guest appearance by Homme on "Knee Socks."

"His contribution to our record is really exciting, it's probably my favorite," explained Turner. "The 30 seconds that he's in there is just, I dunno, it's like something that I've never heard before."

"AM" is a different title. How did it come about?

"I actually stole it (the idea) from the Velvet Underground, I'll just confess that now and get it out of the way," Turner told BBC Radio 1. "The 'VU' record, obviously."

The lead single was "Do I Wanna Know?"

AM sold 42,000 copies in its first week, and debuted at #6 on the Billboard 200 chart, becoming the band's highest charting album in the U.S. Four years later the album was certified platinum.

So why was there a five year gap between "AM" and the group's next effort "Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino?"

Well, Turner put out the second album from his other band, The Last Shadow Puppets ("Everything You've Come To Expect"), while Heiders worked on Iggy Pop's "Post Pop Depression."

With those projects completed Turner began writing songs on his Steinway piano for the group's Sci-Fi influenced sixth album.

Produced by Turner and frequent Arctic Monkeys collaborator James Ford, "Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino" featured many vocals taken from Turner's home demos.

Arctic Monkeys Discography


2006 Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
2007 Favourite Worst Nightmare
2009 Humbug
2010 Suck It And See
2013 AM
2018 Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino

Arctic Monkeys have a lean, hook filled approach. It's nothing that hasn't been done before but they bring a lot of energy and drive to the proceedings.

Their ability to "jump" on songs is one of their strongest traits. Even when they try to be serious they still have a good natured appeal (they are named the Arctic Monkeys after all).

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