Band: The Walkmen
Label: Fat Possum
1. “Juveniles” – A-
2. “Angela’s Surf City” – A+
3. “Follow The Leader” – B
4. “Blue As Your Blood” – B+
5. “Stranded” – A-
6. “Victory” – A
7. “All My Great Designs” – A-
8. “Woe Is Me” – A
9. “Torch Song” – A–
10. “While I Shovel the Snow” – B+
11. “Lisbon” – B+
Comments: Probably the most anticipated album of the year for me besides maybe No Age’s new one. I’m telling you The Walkmen are somewhere safely in my top five favorite bands. “Juveniles” is not really as amazing as it was on the first few listens (KLYAM’s Premature Evaluation, if you will), though I must say it’s definitely a fringe A so I gave it an A-. Not a favorite of the year, but memorable and catchy as freak. The surf-y pre-chorus and actual chorus are stunning animals. As some have commented, The Walkmen seem to really do the opening song thing well. “Donde Esta,” “Louisiana,” “What’s In It For Me?” great stuff. “Angela’s Surf City” is probably an A-, but I gave it an A because the explosion of drums and instrumentation in general PLUS high volumes make this their newish answer to “Tenleytown” MINUS the ’80s DC hardcore influence. Got that? “Follow The Leader” sounds like a song that should be :20 long. Now, no song should actually be that short ideally, so I actually take it back. I strangely like how this song is included. I was really convinced it was unnecessary. “Blue As Your Blood” is nice, but is the first real song on here that has only certain parts that are great. The orchestral “Stranded” is really outstanding. At first I was like “oh yeah this is just really good…nothing major,” but now I’m thinking it’s top tier on this record. “Victory” gets nice at the end. After the first set of light vocals in “All My Great” that song becomes high quality. It really does. That little segue into my favorite song on here “Woe Is Me” works out so nicely. Like I’ve said before, I love the surf of “Woe Is Me” and its flow. Immaculate flow. I’m thinking “Torch Song” is top tier material as well. It’s got those light vocals as well as a soft little melody that’s just perfection toward the end. “While I Shovel” is along the same lines, but its slow waltz attribute doesn’t do much in the department of awesomeness. “Lisbon” is quite the album closer. While this isn’t my favorite Walkmen album (that probably belongs to Bows + Arrows), it’s definitely in a class of its own. Gone are the days of straight-up rockers along the lines of “The Rat” and “Thinking Of A Dream”…in is this new sound that was captured on You & Me and taken to a new level on Lisbon. I do much prefer the rock and roll, but this is what it is.
Grade: A- (90)
Band: The Walkmen
Release: Fat Possum [9/2010]
1. “Juveniles” – Known in some circles as “Tragedy,” I’m just amazed by Hamilton’s delivery on the choruses. I, too, love the laid back, Caribbean-esque feel. What a great album opener! Grade: A+
2. “Angela Surf City” – This one is marked by Matt Barrick’s drumming. At least that’s what stands out to me. I do like this song — Hamilton is as passionate as ever — and how it, like “Blue” that follows soon, has an enormous explosion of instrumentation. Grade: A-
4. “Blue As Your Blood” – Known in some circles as “The Sky Above,” this builds up pretty good. The initial guitar plucks and percussion stay constant — as a good rhythm section usually does — throughout the duration of this tune. I got a feeling pretty early on that this thing was going to explode. Indeed, it does. There are some really nice intricacies toward the end of the song — like a subtle keyboard push and twangy guitar parts. Grade: A
8. “Woe Is You” – This one is comparable to “Tragedy” in how it sounds Caribbean. I really enjoy how it flows. The left panned keyboard sequence is cool at the end. Sorry, I can’t think of anything else to say! Grade: A
10. “While I Shovel the Snow” – A tad tad slow for my liking, but I’ve got to give praise to the lyrics. This one feels old — you know like Sun Records old. Leonard Cohen inspired as well. Tentatitvely I won’t give it the benefit of the doubt, but we’ll see by the time the entire record comes out. Grade: B+
These reviews are more reactions considering I need multiple days of listening before I develop a pretty accurate opinion. Even then it’s hit or miss.
Album: Interpol [9/2010]
Comments: The verses are standard fare for Interpol/Julian Plenti. There’s the small guitar parts and the overwhelming bass line. The chorus is rather uplifting and dance-esque with creative strumming and outstanding drumming. After the first chorus, the song keeps up a nice pace. I have to say Banks is a characteristically depressing song-writer. I hate to stereotype, but damnit just when you try to have a little fun listening to this song, you realize this is a downer. Just think of barricades themselves. These aren’t entrance ways or revolving doors. These are cut-off points. Is there anything fun about that? I do like this track.
Band: The Walkmen
Album: Lisbon (9/2010)
Comments: Anyone whose been following The Walkmen for the past 10 or so months will realize that this song has been kicking around in their live repertoire for a while. Some avid fans initially dubbed it “Starry-Eyed” because Ham sings that phrase. As Ham said to NPR, this is probably more apropos on You and Me — it being horns heavy, down tempo, and vocal-centric. This comparison might be totally off — and please forgive me — but don’t the horns parts sound like the Christmas classic “Silver Bells”? At any way this is a big song. A masterpiece of a work. I prefer a lot of heavier Walkmen material, but songs like this amaze me.
Some more Walkmen related news!
First things first, they will be playing in Boston on October 7 at the Royale Nightclub, presumably headlining or co-headlining with The Helio Sequence. This is exciting!
Second, here is, again presumably, what the cover of their album Lisbon (out September 14 on Fat Possum), will look like:
The Walkmen’s sixth studio album now has a name: Lisbon. Although the band has showcased at least sixteen new songs live and recorded twenty-nine in studio, Lisbon will only have eleven when it drops on September 14.
Click HERE to download a live recording of “Lisbon,” presumably the title track on the record. It’s of a pretty bad quality, but if you are really eager to hear something new then listen!