indie music profile: The Walkmen

The Walkmen, based both in Harlem and Philly, formed in 2000 with three members from Jonathan Fire*Eater: Paul Maroon (guitar, piano), Walter Martin (organ/bass), and Matt Barrick (drums); and two from The Recoys: Peter Bauer (bass/organ) and Hamilton Leithauser (vocals, guitar).

All members of the band grew up in and around D.C., played in many of the same bands and attended the same Washington-area high school.  This is a seriously close band; in fact, Walter and Hamilton are first cousins who grew up on the same street.

That longtime familiarity "makes it easier and harder," says Hamilton. "Sometimes there's no surprises in our styles, but in the end it's better because you've got a feel for everybody's playing."

After forming The Walkmen in Philadelphia, the band moved to Harlem to became part of the NYC scene.  Around the time of the move, the guys wanted to move away from the raw, fiery garage sounds of their earlier bands and recorded an EP featuring upright pianos and other vintage instruments.

The Walkmen are influenced by The Pogues, Joy Division, Bruce Springsteen, Björk, U2, New Order, The Smiths, and The Cure. Fans compare their new music to Pixies, Brian Eno, The Velvet Underground and Television.

Their first two LP’s were well received by critics, in fact, their second LP, Bows + Arrows, was called one of 2004’s best albums.

Recorded over the eight months, their fifth LP, Lisbon, dropped on 14 September, 2010.  It was recorded by two producers in two cities: Chris Zane (Passion Pit, Les Savy Fav, Tokyo Police Club) recorded the pensive songs in NYC, John Congleton (St. Vincent, Explosions in the Sky) recorded the rockier songs in Dallas.  According to Hamilton, Lisbon features “a lot of stuff that's Elvis-sounding, like early Elvis and Sun Records kind of sounds.”

Click here for their SXSW 2010 recorded march 17 at Austin’s Stubbs BBQ.  Click here and here for May 28, 2009 and March 17, 2006 World Café sets recorded by WXPN.  Click here for an All Songs Considered set recorded by NPR on May 25, 2010.  Click here for a January 19, 2009 Morning Becomes Eclectic set recorded by KCRW.  Click here for a bunch of sessions recorded by the great site,  Visit the band’s Myspace page here.

Check here to see if The Walkmen have any gigs scheduled near you.

As always, whenever possible, please buy your music from your local independent music store by people who know and love music and not from retailers like Wal-Mart (soulless, globally-homogenizing, community-killers) or i-Tunes (albums should be listened to as an entire composition with album cover and liner notes in hand). Incidentally, these two companies sell more music than any other retailer in the United States. That my friend, bites.

The Walkmen are more radical than your ipod.

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