now i go out alone, if i go out at all

MP3 The Walkmen - "The Rat"
While I'm trying not to "rank" the songs in this mix, this one just may be my favorite of 2004. "The Rat" was the first single off of Bows + Arrows, the sophomore album from NYC rockers The Walkmen that was one of the first releases of the year to make the best new music list over at Pitchfork & is probably one of my top three or four discs of 2004. A big improvement (IMO) over their debut LP Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone, Bows + Arrows boasts several songs that I flirted with including on this mix, such as the wistful & lovely "Thinking of a Dream I Had" or the latest single "Little House of Savages" (which you may have seen on The O.C. a couple weeks back), but this thunderous track could not be denied. The guitars are loud & the drums are forceful, working together to propel the song forward, threatening to careen off of the tracks, but somehow keeping it together. Frontman Hamilton Leithauser's vocals are piercing demanding, with an immediacy that's intimidating & oh-so rock 'n roll. The Walkmen always leave me stunned & breathless after this one, but in a good way. Bravo.

ETA (12/9/04): Dave McGonigle offers much better analysis on "The Rat" for Stylus Magazine's Top 40 singles of 2004 list (it ranked #8, fwiw):
“The Rat” plays like a four-and-a-half minute advert for the continuing relevance of heartfelt guitar music in the 21st century, somehow managing to warp the very fabric of reality to drag even ardent dance music fans onto the dancefloor to mosh to an “indie tune”. It's impossible not to be carried along by this song's bunker-busting attack on the listener's emotions—there's a wonderful dichotomy between the anger of the verses (“You've got a nerve to be asking a favour!”) and the shrugging resignation of the chorus (“When I used to go out I would know everyone that I saw / Now I go out alone if I go out at all”) as hi-hat hits fall like snowflakes in a blizzard. It's a hymn both to the joy of being alive and the messy ups and downs of modern relationships, where the neighbouring emotions of anger, sadness and joy jockey for position in your brain. Unlike an errant partner, The Walkmen'll always be there for you. Return their love, and give “The Rat” a place in your heart.

JRDN commented, "Hamilton should've rocked the army jacket instead of the polo."

Track 01: The Arcade Fire - "Wake Up"
Track 02: Frou Frou - "Let Go"

Oy vey, people. I'm struggling, and this weekend probably won't even help. I hope everyone else's is better than mine will most likely be. Toodles...
| i guess we'll just have to adjust »
| steve, we think you got crazy-eye »
| a turkey-lurkey-do »
| another morning stoner »
| nyc's walkmen visit the left coast »
| [ilb]'s top 40 bands in america »
| just a quickie (on a monday morn) »
| your parents will hate it »
| and i try and i try, to no avail »

Blogger solace @ 12/03/2004 03:49:00 PM:

killer track.

wish i could agree on your love for Bows & Arrows though. but other than this, Savages, and maybe 2 or 3 other tracks, the slow stuff just bored the crap outta me.

i much preferred the first record overall, and really really missed the use of the piano like they did on the first record. it just had a much more interesting swagger/feel to me. i dunno if it'll even get a mention in my top 40-50 of the year sadly :(. i think i like the Jonathan Fire Eater album more than both Walkmen records still though.

sad thing is, the songs that i don't like at all on the album, are great live (same em twice thsi year, Modest Mouse opener and their in-store at Let It Be, the day of the 400 Bar show). they've come a long way live though, i saw them in 02 at the Entry and they were basically just an average Strokes-ish sounding band at the time.    

Blogger mr gilbert @ 12/03/2004 04:00:00 PM:

that's funny, i actually find much of the 1st album kinda slow & boring, but really love Bows + Arrows almost front to back. definitely one of my faves this year. btw: i saw them at the 400 in march & they killed.    

Blogger solace @ 12/04/2004 12:16:00 AM:

hah, funny

i guess for me, the slow songs on the first record i actually enjoy, whereas the only songs i enjoy on the new one, save for i think one or two songs, are the faster ones, Rat, Savages, etc.

yeah, i decided against that 400 Bar show, as i was sick, so i went to the in-store instead, was still really fun. played for about an hour, Gary Louris stood next to me the whole time, hehe.

but yeah, i know lots of people who dig Bows a lot too, so oh well.

if i recall, the new Ted Leo is one of your faves of the year too? i love it, but it's not quite in my top 10. i still prefer Tyranny, but it's LOADS better than Oak (which was still really great)

now he just needs to come back here. haven't seen him since last October at the Triple Roock w/ Sea Ray (who totally own btw). though the current 3-piece isn't quite as good as he was w/ the 4 and 5 piece lineups i saw him w/ in 2001 and 2002, his old 2nd guitarist kicked a lot of ass. but at least he has his great usual drummer back. last year's show at the TR had a replacement drummer who wasn't very good, and as a result the show was prolly my least fave of the 5 shows i've seen Ted do. (fave being Feb or Mar 03 at the Entry, that show just slayed.)    

Blogger mr gilbert @ 12/04/2004 02:13:00 AM:

re: bows + arrows, back when it came out (and still today) it somehow tapped into some personal nostalgia from when i used to reside in nyc, so that's given the album some added meaning for me. while it may have a couple dead spots/lackluster tracks, i think its positives make up for them & some.

anyway, we just differ. i too know a lot of people who prefer the debut.

re: ted leo, i've only seem him once (fall 03 @ the triple rock), so i've got nothing to really compare it to (i decided not to trek up to duluth last month). i personally think i like hearts of oak the best, but that may be because it was the first disc of ted's that i picked up (i guess i was late to the party). i also liked his extended line-up & lengthier songs on that disc, though i'm a big fan of tyranny of distance as well.

imo, shake the sheets isn't as good as either of those previous discs, but it's still damn great & one of my favorites this year. being politically fired-up this past year to some extent, it was just the right disc at the right time. however, i've been listening to it less & less over the past couple weeks, but perhaps that's because i kinda can't bear to think about politics right now. i wish i could've seen him this year, though.

ted will make an appearance on this mix, but not for a while yet...    

Blogger solace @ 12/05/2004 02:31:00 PM:

re: politics & shake

hear ya there :(    

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