Stroke 9
The Last of the International Playboys
Release Date: June 5, 2007

The California sun shines on rock band Stroke 9 with their latest effort The Last of the International Playboys. While the Bay Area natives are best known for the 2000 hit about those ubiquitous little black backpacks (what girl didn’t have one?), never mistake them for a one-hit wonder. Their third collection aptly encapsulates what summer represents—it’s fun, sunny, memorable, slightly eccentric with an inner wild child that’s finally letting loose. A blend of West Coast rock jams with melodious sincerity; it is the essential mix for summer.

Judging from their new songs, it seems the guys may have gone through some serious heartbreak, and summer is the backdrop (and a metaphor) for exploring all matters of love. Their pain is conveyed with the ironically upbeat “It’s Curtains for You,” where vocalist Luke Esterkyn proclaims, “All those boys on those summer nights/Are they tired of screaming your name?” In “Salutations” and “Feel the Summer,” (the best songs on the album) the boys feel a new season calling, and its telling them to let go of love—and hope for the best. Yet in the “7 Year Itch,” lying on the beach in the summer heat makes Esterkyn realize what he’s missing, asking, “Can we wipe the slate clean and start over somehow?” And finally, the first single off the album, “The One,” finds himself finally proclaiming his love for the girl he left behind.

But don’t be fooled—Stroke 9 isn’t just singing catchy love songs. Their depth lies in lyrical cleverness, ranging from introspective words in “Scream” to the rap-flow in “Who I Am,” these boys have a way with words that’ll make you nostalgic—after all, their band name is taken from the T.S. Eliot poem The Wasteland. They are also here to prove that first and foremost, they are rockers, manifesting their roots chiefly in songs like “So Good” and “The Yeah Song.”