Music News

The Walkmen

During the mid-'90s, Jonathan Fire*Eater was marked for big things that never came to fruition, which is the sort of thing that happens to groups that insist on wedging an asterisk into their names. The better part of a decade later, former Fire*Eaters Paul Maroon, Walter Martin and Matt Barrick, who play guitar, organ and drums, respectively, are back on the Hype Express, thanks to their membership in the Walkmen, and this time around, they've got a better chance of reaching their chosen destination. The new band's most recent full-length, last year's Bows & Arrows (issued by Record Collector, a faux-indie branch of Warner Bros.), shares plenty of elements with other acts in NYC's nu-rock scene -- smudgy guitars, martial drumming, minor-key melodies. But lead singer/guitarist Hamilton Leithauser, who shares non-Fire*Eater status with bassist Pete Bauer, has a taste for melodrama that distinguishes the narcissistic lament "What's in It for Me" and the compellingly pretentious "No Christmas While I'm Talking." By helping to twist an increasingly familiar formula, Maroon, Martin and Barrick, who are set to share the Bluebird stage with Born in the Flood and Hot IQs, certainly validate their move to the Walkmen -- and not just because the name's a lot easier to spell.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts