Lately there have not been many notable releases. I blame it on the push to release vinyl reissues right before the holiday season.
Oh well.. I digress.
Glen Hansard did release an 4-song EP this week called Drive All Night. The lead song, “Drive All Night,” is a Bruce Springsteen cover featuring Jake Clemons and Eddie Vedder. This cover showed up on quite a few blogs in the past weeks so I was looking forward to hearing it and new material from Hansard. Like with his recent full-length solo album and previous releases as part of The Frames and The Swell Season, Hansard is a standby, talented songwriter with strong but raw voice. His geographic and musical roots are obvious. If this EP is just a small preview of things to come, I am on board with giving another one of his releases a place in my queue.
Throwing Muses released Purgatory/ Paradise. Because of my limited background in late 1980s and 1990s girl groups, I do not feel I can appropriately analyze this album in comparison to others by the Throwing Muses. It is generally well-reviewed (Read a brief review from NYTimes, Pitchfork gave it an 8.0). The album did, however, spark my interest in other TM albums, as well was Belly (a band original member Tanya Donelly created after departing from TM). So maybe it did its job. This is the first TM album in 10 years after all.
+ + +
Walkmen announced they will be going on an “extreme hiatus.” For this week’s Retro Release, I am going to spotlight their 2004 album Bones + Arrows, which featured the wildly popular song “The Rat.”
This album is a classic post-punk release. With an appearance on The OC (at the Bait Shop), the band was brought out of the underground and into the cd players of Seth Cohen obsessives.
As the second song of the album, “The Rat” is an engaging track. It brings the listener straight into the world of Walkmen where the bar scene is active and interactions are perplexing bouts of confusion.
Many tracks, like “No Christmas While I’m Talking” and “What’s In It For Me,” are quiet and moody but lack the mainstream appeal of “The Rat” and “Little House of Savages” (the two main singles). “My Old Man” clocks in at 4:42 and rarely bores but confidently yells “You’re a sure thing but I know/ You can count me out.”
The themes seem to focus on the struggle for authenticity, especially in “138th Street” and “The North Pole.” “Hang on Siobhan” is a solid attempt at a piano ballad and feeds right into “New Year’s Day” which conveys feelings of pure confusion: “The more we talk/ the less we understand.” The two closing tracks, “Thinking of a Dream I Had” and “Bones + Arrows,” lead the listener wanting more.
Bows + Arrows is a first look at the talent of the band. Often touted as “a musican’s band,” their follow-up albums were just as good. They showed development while staying authentic with dark tones and strong musicianship. I’d mention it in the same breath as those brilliant first two albums by Interpol.
It is a shame that they won’t record a follow up to last year’s Heaven, an album that continues to be one of my favorites. But at least fans have their well-rounded discography as a lasting memory.
And “The Rat” will always get bar kids dancing and howling along to the signature verse: “You’ve got a nerve to be asking a favor/ You’ve got a nerve to be calling my number…Can’t you hear me, I’m beating on your wall?/ Can’t you see me, I’m pounding on your door?”