It’s been an interesting five years since I first became a Walkmen fan. Of course it all started with “The Rat” from the highly influential (for me) MLB 2k7 soundtrack. At that time I instantly dug deeper into the band’s catalog and realized that I practically loved everything the band had done to that point. Fast forward to March 2008, I e-mail the band asking if they will be playing any all-ages shows in Boston. I receive a response back from their fake band manager, Doug, saying maybe in August. September 2008. They play at the Middle East Downstairs. 18+ — no go. Bummer. Fast forward one more year. I see the band live for the first time. Actually two nights in a row at the Mid East Down. Great times. You and Me was excellent. Lisbon rolled around in 2010 and I honestly wasn’t too impressed. It’s a good record don’t get me wrong, but it is a bit too mellow (on a whole) for my ever evolving, higher energy taste in rock and roll. The band is getting up there in age (mid-late 30s, all are married) so surely they are in a different place than they were in 2004 when Bows + Arrows came out. That record is better suited (lyrically/musically/etc) for a 20-something year old man than a 16 year old or a 40 year old. Here we now are with Heaven, the band’s sixth original studio album. A few tracks have been released and here are my thoughts:
“Heaven” – I enjoy the pace and energy here! It’s fuller than the heaviest on Lisbon (thanks to producer Phil Ek?), but unfortunately things take a cheesy turn with the “oh-oh-oh-oh-oh” at the end. I don’t really see a need for those.
“Heartbreaker” -Now we’re talking. In place of the classic organ is a second guitar. I really like this. The drum crashes, the eternally winding surf guitar on the bridge. Good work, Walkmen! [KLYAM Recommended]
“We Can’t Be Beat” – Ouch. Not truly a disaster, in fact I see a lot of people really love this, but just not my thing at all. At one point in my life I got a little something out of listening to Fleet Foxes. Those days are pretty much gone (with all due respect) so to hear something like this that’s essentially the same thing as a Fleet Foxes song is a little disheartening. The Walkmen can do better. See “Heartbreaker”.
Black Keys – “Lonely Boy” – Not the first “Lonely Boy” (King Khan & BBQ Show, among recent others, had one), but we’ve certainly have one heck of a memorable tune here. From the guitar riffs to steady drum beat down to the catchy synthesizer, this might be the most intriguing pop-rock song I’ve heard in a few years. I doubt it will make itself to Top 40 airwaves (with its definitive rock and roll edge…damn ‘electro-rock’ these days), but it certainly should keep fans — devout and marginal (like myself) — happy.
Ty Segall – “Spiders” – This is a song that surely makes noisy sound quiet. In an interview with Prefix earlier this year, Ty said he wanted to do a noise rock record. Whether this is literally the noise rock 7″ that he was hinting at or whether it’s a piece of a larger puzzle is something I guess we’ll have to figure out later.
Thee Oh Sees – “The Dream” – Like a whole bunch of Oh Sees songs, this one keeps you on your toes. It’s a classic mix of throwback pop and distortion. The great thing about Thee Oh Sees and just mentioned understudy Segall is how well they engage listeners throughout the course of a song. Thee Oh Sees tend to go the long route, Segall prefers the short. Random screams here, random guitar clinging there, EXPLOSIVE finish; it’s all awesome. Random to only me and you…maybe.
Bad Sports – “Just Can’t Be Friends” – A nice power-pop/punker that will tickle your fancy if you’ve been digging fellow current Dirtnap bands like White Wires and Steve Adamyk Band and older stuff like Exploding Hearts. Simple and catchy. Typically, just how I like it.
The Energy – “Thinking Cameras” – Not as fast as ‘hardcore punk’, but it punches just as hard as that form of music. This is in your face punk rock. You better wear protective covering because the raw energy (pun sort of intended) on display here might just melt your clothes.
No Pilot – “Energy On” – This is a highly dancey noise/electronic offering coming via one-man band in France. With several layers of effect laden guitars and natural hand-claps as percussion, it’s easy to get lost in the music. That’s exactly what makes it so impressionable.
“Glitter” (A/A-) – No Age has always liked themselves some samples and atmosphere. Weirdo Rippers was ripe with what critics have termed “experimental” sounds. Nouns had a fair share of these tunes as well, but was more “punk” oriented, espesically on the album’s very best tunes: “Teen Creeps,” “Eraser,” and “Ripped Knees” just to name a few. 2009’s Losing Feeling was a mix of atmospheric sounds and straight up rock, but pretty much involved a heavy appetite of samples on every song. If “Glitter” is any indication of the direction of Everything in Between, No Age is aiming at a continuance of their Losing Feeling vibe. I don’t think this recording does too much in terms of how great this song could be. The sample in the background can be a little much at some times, but actually I really like how everything comes together on the latter part of the song.
“Inflorescence” – (A) This one is neat. It reminds of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart kind of twee pop plus, of course, an extra sample or two. Good stuff.
Band: Nobunny Label: Goner Records Album:First Blood
“Motorhead With Me” – (A+) – This one’s been kicking around for over a year and will make its LP debut on…this LP! It is chaotic powerpop/punk genius.
“Blow Dumb” – (A+) – What a stellar song this one is, too. Fucking A! It’s got cowbell, a stellar rhythym and high energy written all over it.
Band: The Walkmen Album:Lisbon 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+
Call this a new feature of KLYAM. It probably won’t be something written regularly, but it will show up every now and then. Basically, I’m going to do short reviews of songs that are currently dominating the airwaves of local hip-hop machine JAMN 94.5.
Ludacris Ft. Nicki Minaj – “My Chick Bad” – Grade: B+ – Luda lude drops some sweet lines that deal with shit along the lines of cartoons, hard liquor, and Tiger Woods’ wife. The chorus is weak, yo’. It’s rap chorus writing 101. Minaj, like her boy Luda lude, does no self-censoring of herself. Fuck that. She unleashes some explicitly great lines — most impressive being the first words out of her mouth: “Now all these bitches want to be my bestie, but I leave them hanging like a testy.” That’s just amazing.
Usher Ft. Will-I-Am – “OMG” – Grade: C- – What the fuck is this shit? Seriously. A fake audience clapping alone to a shitty song? Repeats of “oh my God” and “oh my gosh”??? A completely average beat. The verses aren’t completely terrible thanks to some decent instruments. Even the hook to the bridge stands well on its own. Other than that, Will-I-Am and autotune kill this song. Kill in a bad way.
Rihanna – “Rude Boy” – Grade: B – This might be my favorite Rihanna song. There are some songs in her catalog that are absolutely terrible, some average, and that’s about it. This one doesn’t really feel like it has been done before. It sounds surprisingly original for a song of its nature. This does make for quite a club bangerrr. It took enough writers (six) to come up with this, but I’ll let that one slide for now.
Drake – “Over” – Grade: C – Simply stated this song is boring. Even the rapping isn’t anything spectacular. It seems like Drake is racing against a clock once he starts dropping lines.
Both tracks are off their upcoming album Expo 86 (June 29, Sub Pop):
“What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had To Go This Way)” – Spencer Krug succeeded in his goal of penning a danceable song. Lyrically speaking, this song is filled with oddball lyrics, sort of like what we’ve come to expect from Sunset Rubdown. Like Deerhunter’s “Operation” the drum beat and bass are what makes this a so-called “dance rock” number. Sure, the organ fills and scratchy guitar riffs are nice, too. I wasn’t too impressed the first few listens, but this is definitely a grower. [Grade: A/A-]
“Ghost Pressure” – Dominating, at first, this song is the synthesizer, which sort of like an Editors song, darkens atmosphere and mood. The synth “brightens” up after a short keyboard part. The bridge “shake me up, shake me up” sounds awfully familiar, but I can’t quite recall what tune this reminds me of. Anybody? Boeckner sings the first half before Krug enters. They harmonize up until a short instrumental finishes the thing up. Like “What Did” I wasn’t really an immediate fan, but this is actually quite good. [Grade: A]
Listen to the songs at the Dork!
Comments: This is probably one of my favorite new discoveries of the past few weeks. This song stuck out to me when I saw Ganglians open for Wavves back in September, but I completely forgot about it until two days ago. It’s got a catchy surf vibe and a drum beat that I’ve spent quality time trying to emulate. If you are looking for some fun garage rock to dance to then definitely listen to this.