Photo Gallery: The Walkmen Live From Stubbs SXSW 2010
- On the Water
- (New Song)
- In The New Year
- Canadian Girl
- All Hands And the Cook
- (New Song)
- The Rat
The Walkmen have always had a predilection for the anthemic — for grand songs, executed with full conviction. In the band's set from NPR Music's opening-night showcase at South by Southwest 2010, the majesty was even further heightened. Frontman Hamilton Leithauser announced that the band was close to completing its new album, and led the group in several yet-unreleased songs — with the assistance of what he called "Austin's finest horn section." This on top of hits like "In The New Year" and "The Rat," themselves overflowing with energy.
The Walkmen first caught the world's attention in 2004, with the release of "The Rat," a single from the band's sophomore album, Bows + Arrows. With the song's galloping drums, stabbing guitars and urgent vocals, listeners could be forgiven for assuming that this was just another group riding the wave of post-punk/garage bands that exploded from New York in the early 2000s. But The Walkmen's members have always walked a different path from that of their peers, and "The Rat" — although a fantastic song — was not fully representative of their sound. Swathed in ghostly reverb, their songs sound detached and lonely, full of skeletal guitars, cavernous drums and Leithauser's singular howl.
Formed by members of two defunct Washington, D.C., bands (Jonathan Fire*Eater and The Recoys), The Walkmen soon relocated to New York, where they built their own practice space/recording studio, Marcata Recordings. When faced with the closure of the Harlem studio, The Walkmen decided to re-record — down to almost every note — Harry Nilsson's John Lennon-produced 1974 album, Pussycats, as a farewell of sorts. The album's 2006 release was met with mild puzzlement from fans and the media, but the band returned with a proper full-length, You & Me, in the summer of 2008. You & Me has been widely hailed as a return to form and one of the band's best releases yet.
After some extended touring, The Walkmen's members spent more than a year writing and recording their forthcoming sixth album, which fleshes out the band's sound with a full-blown horn section. The Walkmen showcased new and old material at Stubb's Bar-B-Q on March 17.