COLLEGE ROCK REDUX: CHESTER FRENCH

In the early to mid-eighties, college rock referred to scruffy bands like the Replacements, 10,000 Maniacs, and the Violent Femmes. Today's iteration harks back to that time but in a Rob Lowe-meets-Duran Duran sort of way—which makes sense, since college rock circa 2008 is crisp Ivy League-born pop. Following the success of Columbia grads Vampire Weekend, the effervescent new It band Chester French, a Harvard-educated duo, are finally releasing their springy, much-hyped debut. Here, a look at college rock's valedictorians, then and now.

Photographs courtesy of Retna UK/Universal Music

In the early to mid-eighties, college rock referred to scruffy bands like the Replacements, 10,000 Maniacs, and the Violent Femmes. Today's iteration harks back to that time but in a Rob Lowe-meets-Duran Duran sort of way—which makes sense, since college rock circa 2008 is crisp Ivy League-born pop. Following the success of Columbia grads Vampire Weekend, the effervescent new It band Chester French, a Harvard-educated duo, are finally releasing their springy, much-hyped debut. Here, a look at college rock's valedictorians, then and now.

THE SOUND

The Replacements: A blistering mix of punk, rock, and heartfelt songwriting

Chester French: The Zombies if they hung out at hip-hop clubs

THE STUDIES

The Replacements: Beer for breakfast (later a song title). None of the original members graduated from high school.

Chester French: D.A. Wallach majored in African-American studies, Maxwell Drummey in social anthropology.

THE LOOK

The Replacements: Flannel shirts and the occasional diaper (worn onstage by lead guitarist Bob Stinson)

Chester French: Pastel plaids and boat shoes

THE VENUES

The Replacements: Basements, dive bars, and even divier bars

Chester French: Their dorm-basement recording studio and college bars

SMART CAREER MOVE

The Replacements: Deciding to sign with a major label, Sire Records—six years in

Chester French: Getting a demo into the hands of Kanye West's manager

MUSICAL HIGHLIGHT

The Replacements: Of all their now classics, none is better than "Color Me Impressed," from 1983's Hootenanny.

Chester French: It's early, but their ode to high-maintenance girlfriends, "The Jimmy Choo's," is insanely catchy.

CELEB FRIENDS

The Replacements: R.E.M. The two upstart groups toured together.

Chester French: Pharrell Williams, who signed them to his label after a fierce bidding war with West and Jermaine Dupri

THE GROUPIES

The Replacements: Twentysomethings in white Hanes tees and tattered $10 jeans

Chester French: Twentysomethings in white Ray-Bans and tattered $300 jeans

"She Loves Everybody," set to pictures of the band.

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