Artist: The Walkmen

Let me start by saying if you watch one video of a band today, make it the one at the bottom of this page.  You'd be doing yourself a favor, trust me.  

Now, I've been hearing about The Walkmen for a couple years now, but I never actually took the time to listen. I heard about them last year when they made it onto a lot of year-end lists for their album Lisbon. I heard about them in 2008 when their You & Me album earned them similar recognition. But, when a band is simply labeled "indie rock" you tend not to pay as much attention as, say, when a band is labeled "experimental post-rock" or "chillwave". But, The Walkmen are one indie rock band that deserves to be heard.

The "rock" part of that label is very appropriate since these guys do know how to rock (the fuck out). They can write fast, powerful songs that get your blood-pumping with incredible, propulsive drumming and excellent guitar work. They also know how to slow it down with some down-tempo songs that float along on clouds of ambient guitars and organs. All their songs are held together by the expressive voice of their lead singer, Hamilton Leithauser, who sings every word with the volume and passion of an evangelist preacher.

Since they formed in 1999, The Walkmen have been releasing great albums. Starting with their 2002 debut Everyone Who Pretended Like Me is Gone, almost all of their albums have received critical acclaim. Lisbon, their most recent effort, was their sixth studio album in less than ten years. These guys are consistently good. At this time, I've only heard three of their albums: Bows + Arrows, You & Me, and Lisbon. All three are excellent, complete albums without any throwaway songs. Each one is sequenced extremely well with contemplative, slower songs leading into fast, louder songs and vice versa. I look forward to checking out more of their albums in the near future.

I would recommend The Walkmen to anyone who enjoys other great indie rock bands like Arcade Fire, The National, and also The Velvet Underground. But, like each of those bands, The Walkmen has a sound that sets them apart from any other indie rock band. The powerful, emotive vocals, the furious and off-kilter drumming, the reverby guitars, and the use of organs in almost every song add up to a really original sound. When you hear a Walkmen song you know it's a Walkmen song. Their lyrics and sound also feel old-timey in a way that's hard to explain. Like the band has an old soul that they express through more modern music.

But, if I'm not doing a good job of making them sound awesome, just watch some videos of them playing live below and that will be all the convincing you need. They're one of those bands that can perform a song and make it sound just as good or even better than the recorded version; they are tight as hell live. And like I said, don't miss out on the first video below. It's a live video of one of their best songs, "The Rat", and it's incredible. I could write a book about how awesome this song is. It is one of the best I've heard in a long while, and the drumming blows my mind every time. Check it.



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