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The Walkmen, Back with 'Hundred Miles'

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The Walkmen, Back with 'Hundred Miles'

Arts & Life

The Walkmen, Back with 'Hundred Miles'

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

A bunch of friends from high school form a band. They share their rock-and-roll dream of getting heard and against long odds, it happens. Many bands then live the rock-and-roll nightmare. They spend years trying to replicate that success. Well that nightmare hasn't happened to The Walkmen. Their third CD is out. It's called A Hundred Miles Off.

Critic Tom Moon has a review.

TOM MOON reporting:

It didn't take long for The Walkmen to grab just about every break that's available to an indie rock band. Its first album, which came out in 2002, contained a song that was used as the centerpiece of a car ad campaign. The band's second album was featured several times on the Fox TV hit The O.C. And when I heard this anthem start up, I thought, there goes another gifted rock band down that well-worn path to mediocrity.

(Soundbite of The Walkmen)

MOON: The sound is straight out of the U2 rock anthem handbook. But then the singer, a guy named Hamilton Leithauser, comes in and right away the tone changes. These guys aren't reaching the arena, all they want is a lemon.

(Soundbite of The Walkmen)

MOON: There's humor in these Walkmen songs, and a rawness that you don't usually hear from the band after it's had a little bit of success. Oftentimes the big name producer comes in to streamline the sound, but on this CD, The Walkmen handle the production themselves, mostly in their own studio. They recorded quickly and didn't try to gussy things up too much.

(Soundbite of The Walkmen)

MOON: When singer Hamilton Leithauser gets revved, he catches a bit of the fury of a young Bob Dylan singing Like a Rolling Stone. Leithauser shouts a lot of the time. He's reckless and totally caught up in the moment.

(Soundbite of The Walkmen)

MOON: Rock-and-roll is full of bands that get seduced by success and lose touch with the crazy great thing that made them interesting in the first place. The Walkmen didn't do that. They held onto the raggedy roar that they discovered back in high school. In the age of rock music on car ads instead of the radio, that's a small miracle.

(Soundbite of The Walkmen)

BLOCK: The CD by The Walkmen is called A Hundred Miles Off. It was reviewed by Tom Moon. The Walkmen recently performed in Washington, D.C., and you can hear that concert at our website, NPR.org.

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