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A Hundred Miles Off Import
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The Walkmen have been solidifying their position as one of the most important bands in the alternative music community with their previous releases, "Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone" and "Bows And Arrows". Extensive touring, media prominence, critical acclaim, national modern rock radio airplay, and TV performances have helped establish the band in the music community. "A Hundred Miles Off" is their most solid effort yet. "Dylan meets Joy Division" - Uncut. "The dramatic epic sweep, the urgent, chiming guitars, the upright snap of the drums - it's all here" - Bust.
The Walkmen's third album steers their ever challenging sonic textures into greener, more expansive landscapes and finds the fresh air there downright invigorating. A focused, more guitar-centric approach is notable throughout, with textures that span the jangly invitation of the Mexicali horn-spiced opener "Louisiana" to the droning, hypnotic buzz of "Good For You's Good For Me" and churning rhythms of "Boston"; reminders that the band's frequent nods to Joy Division are considerably more than mere affectation. Set against those textures, the nervous "Tenley Town" comes off as a surprisingly straightforward shot of the band's thrashy, garage-rooted past. Frontman Hamilton Leithauser frequently invokes a vocal persona that suggests Dylan on too much coffee and not enough sleep throughout. Yet he's limber enough to coax it into the supple, Caribbean-flavored lounge croon of "Brandy Alexander" and the brooding edge of "This Job Is Killing Me" before bringing the album full circle on a surprisingly tender cover of Quentin Stoltzfus's "Another One Goes By" that somehow evokes Nashville Skyline by way of Manchester '78. --Jerry McCulley
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Other than the ostentatiously Dylanesque album closer "Another One Goes By" (perhaps more appropriately compared to Mott the Hoople, with a 50's-ish pop-waltz backing), the single tracks rarely stray from the album's overall sound. The melodic style of the opening "Louisiana" sounds the most like a track off of Bows & Arrows, and its also the track that regularly excites many of the indie-rock critics. Only after that do we get a sense of how A Hundred Miles Off differs from its predecessor: the focus moves from the song-writing, from the melody, to the subtler vocal changes and to the lyrics themselves. The experience of the album is more complex, challenging and in many respects more intriguing than standard indie rock. But don't let me mislead you into thinking this is some kind of masterpiece-- though a worthwhile chapter in the Walkmen's short career so far and an entertaining, listenable album in itself, it probably won't go so far as to make the top ten or fifteen in the next end-of-year lists. In short, I think the Walkmen's latest offering solidifies their standing in the genre, proves they have real talent, and promises a few more remarkable albums in the future.
I can't even explain why I like this band so much, I've been listening to them for years and yet I can hardly name any of their songs. I simply listen to the entire albums over and over again like one giant song. That's a rare band!
Lou-WEEZ-e-ana opens a Hundred Miles Off and the strumming game is afoot. You just can't get more esoteric than that. Just when the incredibly spot-on drumming wins you over, suddenly it sounds as if Minor Threat is reborn with Tenley Town. Other songs sprinkled amidst the album remind one of a Tarantino soundtrack, or a '70s department store replete with popcorn smells in the air...you decide.
Perhaps this album is less accessible by the mainstream, especially compared to Bows and Arrows. We'll see. No matter, it's a keeper.
The first two albums (which have been in my car's CD changer for one and a half years straight) have these great subtle elements that the new album is missing. Aside from songwriting elements, a think a few of the songs are ruined by this new screaming thing Hamilton's doing. The drumming on the earlier albums reminded me a bit of the stuff from the Bad Plus, but all that seems to have mellowed out on the new album.
On the other hand, it's still better than most other stuff out there.