Search Results for "the walkmen"

Nov 18 2008

The Walkmen – In The New Year

Published by under Alternative,MP3's

I know this album came out a little while ago, but I just heard it for the first time and “In The New Year” might be the quintessential Walkmen song. It takes everything great about their albums – the triumphant hooks, the jangly guitars, the Saturday night swagger – and mashes them all together in one enormous shout from the rooftops moment.

It starts off unassuming, the guitars drowned in reverb and sounding like a soft fall through a layer of buoyant cloud. Singer Hamilton Leithauser floats over the melody seconds into the song, crooning like Dylan but strutting like Sinatra. And the chorus hits: the lilting keyboards are confirmation and celebration of the lyrics – “I’m just like you, I never hear the bad news,” followed by the broken waltz of a sparkling crescendo. It’s a confession, it’s rejoicing.

This album sometimes sounds like observing gangsters disposing of a body on a foggy night, other times like falling in love across a crowded room. It takes several listens for the Walkmen’s progressions to make sense, but on that one listen when the planets align and the chords fit, it’s a revelation.

And from Bows + Arrows: I used to listen to “The Rat” at maximum volume before going out every weekend. Ideal preparation music for a massive night.

From You & Me:

The Walkmen – In the New Year

From Bows + Arrows:

The Walkmen – The Rat

And the video for their song “Little House of Horrors,” also from Bows + Arrows:


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Dec 31 2008

Nick’s Top Ten of 2008

Published by under Alternative,Folk,MP3's

10. The Hold Steady – Stay Positive

The Hold Steady create albums. They write stories and develop characters. And that’s mostly why I like them; I can return to a Hold Steady album like a familiar friend. Stay Positive is different though, it’s more a collection of songs then an album. They still self-reference, and Charlemagne makes his requisite appearance, but Stay Positive is judged more on the quality of the songs then the weight of the message. And for that reason, it’s not their best release. But “Constructive Summer” is still one of the best songs they’ve written, and the title track is a tear-jerking, fist-pumping epic.

The Hold Steady – Constructive Summer

9. M83 – Saturdays=Youth

M83’s previous albums are the embodiment of forward motion; cascading spires of analog synth churning against concrete backbeats that form some sort of crazy word that is beyond soundscape, but just short of heaven. Saturdays = Youth is a pop album that would fit nicely in the eighties. Dreamy vocals drip nostalgic over those same churning synths, backed by stadium drums and that feeling of sunset at the park when your fourteen and in love. Completely self-indulgent, completely awesome.

M83 – Kim & Jessie

M83 – Graveyard Girl

8. Death Vessel – Nothing is Precious Enough For Us

I’ve just dusted this album off after two months of it resting on my (proverbial) shelf, and it feels like an old friend. Death Vessel’s guitars jump through the decades, recalling the folkier side of early seventies Neil Young while maintaining a spot among his (freak) folk contemporaries like Devandra and Vetiver.  And goddamn, that falsetto is high. Don’t be alarmed if you think it’s a woman at first. It’s just like if Young sang in key. And maybe a bit prettier. (Note: Neil Young is a god.)

Death Vessel – Block My Eye

Death Vessel – Circa

7. Department of Eagles – In Ear Park

“No One Does it Like You”  is propelled by popping, baritone harmonies (that remind me of Ocarina of Time…anyone else?) and lead vocals from the darker side of Grizzly Bear. It’s halfway between sunset and pitch-black. “Phantom Other” straddles that same line, same popping, subterranean harmonies, same romanticized sense of impending doom. In Ear Park is the type of album that attaches itself to memories. Two months down the road, you’ll hear “Phantom Other” and have a vivid recollection of that one time at the park with perfect light and a duck walking with feet too big for it’s body. Well, that’s just me. But here’s hoping.

Department of Eagles – Phantom Other

Department of Eagles – Teenagers

6. The Raveonettes – Lust, Lust, Lust

Lust, Lust, Lust is, as the title implies, sexy. Twisted surf-rock leads wind their way through clouds of atmospheric fuzz, like a lucid stroll through a sleeping city. It’s hazy rock and roll done in the tradition of (obviously) the Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine. Blended male and female vocals, anthemic surges of late-night guitar fuzz and a healthy dose of lust and longing.  (I got lazy and basically re-wrote what I’d written for a past review, but I’m ok with that.)

The Raveonettes – You Want the Candy

The Raveonettes – Dead Sound

5. No Age – Nouns

I saw No Age guitarist Randy Randall (is that name for real?) do a stage dive from the top of his amp, guitar in hand, into a thrashing pit at the Middle East Downstairs last year. The guitars were gnarled, the vocals hardly there and the drums felt their way up into your chest and squeezed tightly. And somehow that still manages to come across recorded: “Eraser” feels like a summer’s day, all swaying guitars at sea, and “Teen Creeps” is a punk epic, distorted vocals over a handful of disgusting, swirling chords. Easy listening recorded at the outskirts of a hurricane.

No Age – Eraser

No Age – Teen Creeps

4. Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours

“All the girls of note are crying” might be my favorite album-opening line of all time. Well, at least of the last five minutes. In Ghost Colours makes me want to dance happy. The synth tones are delightfully retro, the vocoder hooks brilliant. And when it isn’t borrowing from 70s disco, or late 80s synth pop, it’s taking swirling guitars from the shoegaze-era or abrasive power chords from the punks. I’m beginning to notice a trend where I look to favorite albums to emulate love, but um, this album makes me want to fall in love on a dance floor, drunk during the early morning. This list is becoming uncomfortably introspective.

Cut Copy -Feel the Love

Cut Copy – Lights and Music

3. The Walkmen – You & Me

The Walkmen make me want to believe in things. Love, life, glory, whatever. Their songs just give me a sense of aimless inspiration. They also make me want to twirl in the snow at 2 am in the middle of a city street. Which is great. You & Me is the new years resolution you forgot to make, evidenced by the cataclysmic crescendos of the aptly named “In The New Year,” and the triumphant, spiraling guitars of “Postcards From Tiny Islands.”

The Walkmen – In The New Year

The Walkmen – Postcards From Tiny Islands

2. Pretty & Nice – Get Young

I’ve freaked out about this album enough already this year, so I’ll keep it mellow. Get Young is a kaleidoscopic tour through the last thirty years of pop and punk, condensed into twenty seven minutes of unbridled kinetic energy. It’s like a workout for your brain. They may have slipped under the radar this year, but Pretty & Nice are destined for great things.

Unfortunately I can’t upload any of their songs, but you can find the album streaming here.

1. The Dodos – Visiter

The Dodos are often mistaken for (a more cohesive) Animal Collective, probably due to their tribal drumming and frantic instrumentation. Other times they get Sufjan Stevens, probably due to the vocals and the depth of instrumentation. So take the insanity of Animal Collective with the sagacity of Sufjan, sprinkle in some extraneous inspiration and you’ll have something like the Dodos. This album hasn’t made a single Best-Of list I’ve read, and I’m disappointed. It’s been my go-to album for six or seven months at this point, and every new listen reveals a new gem. And I listened to this a lot while driving through mountain ranges in New Zealand.

The Dodos – Winter

The Dodos – Joe’s Waltz

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May 21 2009

Sky Larkin – The Golden Spike

Published by under Alternative,MP3's

I first heard Sky Larkin in New York late last summer. They just signed to Witchita and their lead singer Katie Harkin, nervous that she’d break a string at her first New York show, asked us if she could borrow a guitar as backup. Since then, they’ve toured the UK with Conor Oberst, released their stellar debut The Golden Spike and toured the US with friends Los Campesinos! Somehow, they’ve still managed to escape major notice stateside.

The Golden Spike opens in triumph: Harkin’s melody is propelled skyward by a choir of disembodied harmonies, laced with piercing guitar work and a pounding rhythm section reminiscent of Dinosaur Jr‘s Barlow and Murph. To further the Dino Jr comparison (and sustaining my rabid Dino Jr. obsession), Harkin plays in the vein of J. Mascis, channeling his sparkle/sludge dynamic but with more emphasis on chords rather than ear-shattering guitar solos. Not that she can’t have those; the lead in “Antibodies” is graceful in it’s calculated dissonance and the hook in “Molten” is a reach-for-the-sky’s piece of guitar work (which would have fit quite nicely on You’re Living All Over Me).

Like the Walkmen, Sky Larkin make me want to believe in things. Not so much in fantastical creatures (although I do have great faith in their eventual emergence/hidden existence) but more so in ideals, or just ideas. Love, life, hope, honor. You know, all that romantic bullshit. Listen to Sky Larkin and go sprinting through the streets. Clothing optional.

I did an interview with Katie last fall. Read it here.

Sky Larkin – Molten

Sky Larkin – Antibodies

Sky Larkin have three videos out right now, here’s my favorite:

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Dec 30 2008

The Best of “the Best of 2008”

Published by under MP3's

The end of the year is a great time to discover music that came out in that year. Every blog and magazine comes out with their lists of the best albums, singles, new artists of the year. I usually go around to each and every site trying to find commonalities between lists to see which are the most popular and critically acclaimed and try to listen to as much as I can. Though 2009 is looking up to be another great year for music with albums by Animal Collective, Andrew Bird, Built to Spill, M. Ward, Wilco and many more, let’s take a look at what made 2008 a great year for music. Most of these have more than 10 album on their lists, we’ve just provided their top 10 because it’s a much more manageable that way. Which list do you agree with the most? Do you think these are the best albums, or just favorite albums? Please discuss in the comments!

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Dec 15 2008

Christmas Time Is Here

Published by under MP3's

MP3: Belle and Sebastien – Christmas Time is Here

MP3: Rogue Wave – Christmas

MP3: Blitzen Trapper – Christmas is Coming Soon

MP3: Daniel Johnston – Rock Around the Christmas Tree

MP3: Sufjan Stevens – We Wish You A Merry Christmas

MP3: Rilo Kiley – Xmas Cake

MP3: Deerhoof

– Little Drummer Boy

MP3: The Flaming Lips – A Change At Christmas (Say It Isn’t So)

MP3: The Walkmen – The Christmas Party

MP3: The Kinks – Father Christmas

MP3: My Morning Jacket – Xmas Curtain

MP3: Low – Just Like Christmas

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