Classic CD Review: The Rekoys [2003]

Band: The Recoys
Label: Troubleman Unlimited

1. “Song on the Paper Dolls” – A
2. “Shake Off Your Nerve” – A
3. “Over Your Shoulder” – A-
4. “That’s the Punchline” – A
5. “Blizzard of ’93” – A-
6. “Let’s Get Educated” – A
7. “Let You In” – A-
8. “Modern Art Museum” – A-
9. “Look Out Your Window” – A-
10. “Roy Orbison” – B
11. “Tribute: The Recoys” – A

Comments: As a big Walkmen fan, I’m impressed by the mere fact that Hamilton Leithauser was playing stuff this good when he was only 19 to 22 years old. You’ll be able to tell these guys had been playing in bands since middle school. Right off the bat, “Song of the Paper Dolls” is distinctively Hamilton. It’s clean garage/power pop — at least compared to most of the stuff I call that on this site. “Shake Off Your Nerve” has shakers and saxophones. It’s a dancer that’s more punk than most of anything that would end up coming out of The Walkmen catalog. Speaking of The Walkmen catalog, “Over Your Shoulder” starts a trend on this collection of tunes (The Recoys never released an LP) of “Walkmen” songs. “Over” has all the niceties that Leithauser and Bauer would wind up incorporating in their future band. Of course, “That’s the Punchline” and “Blizzard of ’93” (renamed “Blizzard of ’96) wound up on the Walkmen’s debut full-length Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone. This has nothing to do with anything, but when Ham says “that’s a change of style” on “Punchline,” I realized that these songs actually do represent a change of style. “Blizzard” is sloppier and heavier on Rekoys. “Let’s Get Educated” is perfect garage rock revivalist material. It’s like the Strokes, but before the Strokes. Dirtier than the Strokes. Nice and dirty. “Modern Art Museum” is a passionate rocker. You can really hear it in Ham’s voice. “No one understands The Recoys” is sung on the very last song. Don’t worry, though, when their “ship comes in” you will understand them. What that means I don’t know! Fans of The Walkmen, definitely try to get your hands on this. You’ll appreciate this as a reference point in Hamilton Leithauser’s (and Pete Bauer’s, if you’re really looking) career. The Recoys broke up in 1999 after a three year stint.

Grade: A- (92)

Vintage Footage: The Recoys @ Mid East Upstairs

I’m glad I found this! Before the Walkmen became the Walkmen there was this band, The Recoys, based out of nowhere other than…Boston, Massachusetts! They only lasted three years –> 1996 to 1999. Well, here they are playing at the Middle East in Cambridge! As you can tell by listening to them for no longer than two minutes, they played faster garage (punk). For instance, Hamilton Leithauser is singing in a style that would be foreign in comparison to his later work (minus “Tenleytown” off 2006’s A Hundred Miles Off). And also he hasn’t aged in thirteen years. He’s probably in his early twenties at the time of this performance, but he hasn’t changed at all.

Ham Talks New Album

Hamilton Leithauser on The Walkmen’s untitled sixth studio album:
I’m not 100 percent sure what’s going to be on it; we’ve written so many songs. We wrote a lot of songs for You & Me, but we ended up basically using like 90 percent of them on the record because we wanted it to be a long record. But this time, I think we recorded 22 songs or something like that. There’s talk of doing a 20-song record or something, a White Album kind of a deal. But I don’t think that going to fly because I’m not sure that all of them deserve to be on it. But I mean, I don’t know. It’s coming along nicely now. We just did our first session by ourselves. We haven’t done one of those, where we engineered everything and recorded, in like five years. I’m really happy with the way we did it. I was actually impressed that we could still do it.