The Walkmen

We’ve Been HadEveryone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone
The RatBows + Arrows
Little House Of SavagesBows + Arrows
138th StreetBows + Arrows
Another One Goes ByA Hundred Miles Off
In The New YearYou & Me
I Lost YouYou & Me
If Only It Were TrueYou & Me
LouisianaYou & Me (Sun Studio Edition)
Angela Surf CityLisbon

The Walkmen photo 1

Hamilton Leithauser (vocals, guitar)
Paul Maroon (guitars, piano)
Walter Martin (organ)
Peter Bauer (bass)
Matt Barrick (drums)



The Walkmen playlist


Contributor: Paul Jenkins

The Walkmen are a sepia-tinted alternative rock band, an Americana indie thing, a melancholy jukebox romanticist group, the sound of both being dumped and dumping someone, perhaps at the side of the highway by a desert bar where they serve nothing but hard drinks and tough breaks. My friend Dave calls them broken-hearted and old-fashioned, and that’s as good a description as any. They rock, they roll, they croon, they wail. Sometimes I think they’re time-travellers, late fifties kids who wanted to hear The Velvets, the Strokes and everything else that may have happened in the next sixty years and then magic themselves to the present day where they can both sound retro and be relevant to now. Other times I think they may be the last truly authentic band around, genuinely lovelorn and world-weary troubadours without a hint of irony about them. They are touring, catch them if you can.


We’ve Been Had is as good an introduction as any. There is a weird little music box motif that haunts this little seasick rocker. It’s hypnotic and by the time you’re wondering what it is you’re reminded of the song just stops. I have written the words “drunk Strokes write music for little kids show about dishonesty.” I don’t know quite what I mean but it’s close enough.


The one you might know. My overriding memory of 2004 is my daughter being born but after that, not that much lower down the list, is Zane Lowe (a kind of pretend alt-rock Ilkay Gundogan) sitting in that mock-stoner style he perfected on MTV2 (RIP) and introducing this in his casual smug just smoked a doobie with Guevara and Sinatra way. The Rat is an absolute belter. An indie night classic. Hamilton Leithauser seething with indignation whilst behind him the band (especially drummer Matt Barrick) propel themselves angrily into the fray. The video above is for their recent live TV comeback, their first performance of anything to an audience in a decade.


Little House Of Savages begins with a Martin Hannett/ Joy Division-esque wail of something discordant, the band become locked into a sinister sounding groove like an aggressive Inspiral Carpets/Charlatans circa 1990. Except much better than that sounds. “Somebody’s waiting for me at home…”


Bruised, broken and bloodied. Like Dylan at his most wounded. 138th Street could have been on Blonde On Blonde. All I’m saying. And there ain’t much higher praise than that.


Like any great cover version, the Walkmen know to mine Mazarin’s original for the emotional truth and scatter what’s left to the four winds. Taking all the whispery psychedelia from its pockets, stabbing it and leaving it for dead in the trunk of a stolen Chevy, and walking back into the bar they’ve just been dumped in for a night of tequila-soaked reflection. Another One Goes By


As Walkmen songs go, In The New Year is about as optimistic as things get. Auld Lang Syne for those of us old enough to remember a time before LadBaby. Hitting that sweet spot where they stop just short of going all-out indie anthem and head instead for reflective Americana. “My sisters are married” – one of the greatest lines they ever wrote. Video attached is an absolute belter of a live version.


If you ever want to know what flavour to pick for your melancholy savoury snack, put “Mournful Mariachi”. That’s a rule to live by. I Lost You is the Walkmen at their most cinematic, regret and loss somewhere close to the Mexican border. Close your eyes, wipe them dry. Again, link to a barnstorming live performance.


I’m running out of ways to say “yep this is the song that I would put on at 3am if my girl had gone and my glass was half-empty and there was every chance I’d be drinking till dawn, crying as I danced alone.” Not that I’ve done that to If Only It Were True. Well, not much.


A rollicking run through of Louisiana, a previous album track, for a special edition of their best LP You & Me. It’s one of the three best songs named after an American state. A gift for the person who can name either of the other two. The gift being “a sense of self-righteousness that will last but for one moment.”


Martin McDonagh fucking loves The Walkmen. Their songs feature prominently in the soundtracks to his films and if he could have shoehorned one into The Banshees Of Inisherin he probably would have done so. Angela Surf City soundtracked a deranged Woody Harrelson going apeshit car chase mental in the underrated Seven Psychopaths – and it fits.



The Walkmen UK Tour


The Walkmen official website

The Walkmen at Fat Possum Records

Jonathan Fire*Eater (Wikipedia)

Hamilton Leithauser official website

Hamilton Leithauser solo discography

Walter Martin official website & solo discography

Paul Maroon official website

Peter Bauer solo discography

The Walkmen biography (AllMusic)

Paul Jenkins is a pop music obsessive living in fear of being found out as the owner of two Tight Fit singles. His opinions on life in general can be gleaned from his Twitter account. He lives in South Wales with his wife, daughter and a collection of Fall gig anecdotes. His other posts on this site are on Arab Strap, Tindersticks, Grandaddy, Fonda 500, Silver Jews, Big Thief, Protomartyr.

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1 Comment

  1. Gary Gahan
    Jun 8, 2023

    Terrific description of “The Rat.” Vivid. Real. RIGHT.
    >>Hamilton Leithauser seething with indignation whilst behind him the band (especially drummer Matt Barrick) propel themselves angrily into the fray.

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