Artist / Band: THE WALKMEN
Song (MP3): CHRISTMAS PARTY
Album: CHRISTMAS PARTY
File Under: Indie Rock
Info: The Walkmen are five friendly New Yorkers who have played rock music diligently since the 5th grade. Now aged 23 to 28, they've performed under their current moniker for a little over a year. All five originally hail from Washington, D.C. where they attended the same high school and played loud music in several bands. Over the years, and in their many ensembles, they've experimented with punk, noise, a lot of "garage" sounds, ska, and some decent rock.
Although initial press gave the Walkmen positive reviews, it seemed to focus too much on the former notoriety of three of its members?all of whom played in the much hyped, short-lived Jonathan Fire*Eater. This is understandable as the Walkmen had only played a handful of shows before StarTime International released their debut 4-song EP. Touring extensively since its release in June, the boys have made it as far west as Minneapolis, Minnesota, and as far east as London, England. With the release of their debut full length "Everybody Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone," the Walkmen may now be judged strictly on their own merits.
After Jonathan Fire*Eater imploded Walter, Matt, and Paul rounded up enough investors to rent a Harlem industrial space, and convert it into a 24-track analog recording studio. Dubbed "Marcata Recording", the new space became the birthplace, home, and virtual sixth member of the Walkmen. Joining with ex-Recoys, Walter's cousin Hamilton and his friend Peter (who had for years been slaving away in the East Village for spots at the Continental and Luna as the Recoys), the lineup was complete by the summer of 2000. Over the course of the next year the band sedulously wrote and recorded late in the evenings after work. It was hot in the summer and cold in the winter. While adjusting to their new space and equipment, the band engaged in much experimentation with sound.
Their first show took place at Joe's Pub in the East Village in September of 2000. Onto the tiny stage the band lugged an upright piano, a bass cabinet that was taller than the bass player, three amplifiers, an organ, a lap steel, two tape machines, three guitars, and a set of drums. The show was a great success, so they decided to stick together. Since then the boys have remained dedicated to their instrumentation, and even got their hands on an over-sized, rotting upright in London which nearly ruined the trip (one show was on the third floor).
During this time, a few of the most helpful influences included: Bruce Springsteen, the Pogues, the Cure, Bjork, the Smiths, Joy Division, Neil Young, and New Order. But their way is mostly uncharted. The music is not driven by any one instrument, and each recording has its own sound and style. Primarily piano and organ provide the basis for each song, with dashes of a variety of guitars and tapes. The bass holds a steady, booming foundation, and the drums fluctuate from minimal to down right furious. The vocals range from strong and long-held highs to reserved falsettos and lazy lows. The songs can be light and playful, or huge and atmospheric.