The Walkmen

The Walkmen

Dum Dum Girls, Daughter

Thu, October 18, 2012

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Terminal 5

New York, NY

$30 Advance / $35 Day of Show

This event is all ages

The Walkmen
The Walkmen
“The detachment you can feel throughout our younger records is gone.  We felt like it was time to make a bigger, more
generous statement."  

When describing the new album, Heaven, the Walkmen lead singer Hamilton Leithauser portrays a band hitting maturity,
comfortable in its mastery, after a decade together.  Adds guitarist Paul Maroon, “when you’re starting out, you’re sitting
there trying to come up with a big idea, but after a while, you learn about the process of writing. You learn about your
friends in the band and how they work best.”

It's been ten years since the Walkmen made their debut album, Everybody Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone.   Ten
years since they mixed the lovingly recorded analogue tapes down to the cheapest CD burner they could find. Ten years
since lead singer Hamilton Leithauser snapped guitarist Paul Maroon’s arm in a celebratory wrestling match. Ten years
since critics attached them to a New York scene they never wanted any part of.

 But when Leithauser sings “We Can’t Be Beat,” on the opening track of their new album, he means it, like Cool Hand
Luke getting up off the floor for one more round. “The world is ours,” he declares. This time, he may be right.

This spring, the band played a series of 10th anniversary shows that demonstrated how far they have outstripped their
peers: two sets over two hours, no filler, rapturously received.  In contrast, fellow graduates from New York's celebrated
rock revival class of ’02 have burned out or faded from view.

The Walkmen are the great New York band of their generation, and in Heaven, they have delivered their third killer album
in a row. Although Leithauser argues that “our biggest accomplishment is just being here,” they are making the best music
of their career and filling their largest venues yet. Their spot at the top of the bill at May’s Crossing Brooklyn Ferry festival,
curated by The National, demonstrates the respect in which they are held by the current wave of bands making music in
the city.

“In The New Year”, a standout track on their fourth record, You & Me, implies that at one point there was pressure to
quit: “My friends and my family, they are asking of me, how long will you ramble, how long will you still repeat?” Lauded as
a stunning collection of songs, beautifully arranged, the 2008 album revitalized their career.

 Lisbon, released two years later, confirmed that trajectory, winning five star reviews for its short stories and spare, Sun
Records sound. The clanging tones of Paul Maroon’s Rickenbacker Capri 360 and Gretsch Streamliner set the 1950s
mood, as Leithauser channelled Orbison and Sinatra, in all their melancholy defiance.

 On last year’s tours with Arcade Fire and Fleet Foxes, the Walkmen formed enduring friendships – and resolved to write
a song that would make them headliners, once and for all. “There’s a kinship,” says multi-instrumentalist Pete Bauer. “You
feel like someone else is out there taking music as seriously as you’re taking it. You realize that you’re a lifer.”

 So when Fleet Foxes producer Phil Ek approached them, asking if they’d like to make a record with him, they traveled to
the studio he uses in the woods outside Seattle for the most intense recording sessions they had ever experienced. “He
was relentless,” says Maroon. “And in the end, you can hear the difference.”

 “We have never been on better behavior,” agrees Leithauser. “When Phil had an idea, we would be ‘OK, let’s try it.’
That’s not who we are! But we came up with a sound that we love.” Although the chime of Maroon’s guitar is unmistakable
in the cascading arpeggios of “Song For Leigh” or the driving metallic riff of “Heartbreaker”, the setting is fuller, the
production lush.

 “There can be something brittle about our sound,” Maroon says. “He made it just a little bit warmer, a little bit stronger.
When I play it in my car, it sounds strong, which I love.” On “We Can’t Be Beat”, Leithauser is Dion and his bandmates
The Belmonts, singing pitch perfect doo-wop. On “No One Ever Sleeps”, Fleet Foxes vocalist Robin Pecknold plays Don
Everly to Leithauser’s Phil, supplying a low harmony at once classic and contemporary.

 “Love Is Luck” started out as an attempt to replicate the spacious, reverberating tone of Jamaica’s Studio One in the
formative days of The Wailers. “Phil said ‘I hear this as a rock song,’” remembers Leithauser. “Then Matt came up with the
drums and it started sounding like the Pixies: a big, loud, bombastic thing.”

 The one song that the Walkmen insisted on, over Ek’s objections, turned out to be the track that pulled the record
together and gave it a title. “Our children will always hear romantic tales of distant years,” sings Leithauser. “Don’t leave

me, you’re my best friend. All of my life, you’ve always been.”

 After 10 years, the Walkmen have everything that a great band needs. Leithauser is a mature singer of phenomenal
stamina who can trade “The Rat’s” raw anger for the yearning of “Southern Heart” in a beat. Drummer Matt Barrick can
pummel ferociously and drop down to Buddy Holly’s tramcar click. Bauer is a consummate sideman, effortlessly switching
from guitar to farfisa to piano as required, or trading instruments with bass player Walter Martin, who has also written his
most resonant lyrics yet.

 All five members of the band have kids now and if the impact of parenthood is hard to pin down in a single lyric,
there is definitely a new openness and emotional honesty to the songs.   Most importantly, the old gang mentality has
deepened, becoming something worthwhile and lasting. “I’m very proud of what we’ve done. We’ve stayed friends and
those friendships have grown,” says Bauer. “We have survival experience and real love that children generate in your
life.” Heaven is a definitive statement of purpose and commitment, from a band at the peak of its powers that is finally
winning the recognition it deserves.

- Andrew Purcell
Dum Dum Girls
Dum Dum Girls
Write about what you know. That’s what they say. But that’s a lot easier said than done when what you know is very, very difficult to bear. That was the challenge Dum Dum Girls’ leader Dee Dee faced when writing the songs for the band’s moving second album Only in Dreams. “The first record was basically the first songs I’d ever written,” says Dee Dee, “and I was thinking nostalgically about being a teenager. This record, it was pretty much impossible not to write about very recent, very real things.”

Very real things indeed: Dee Dee wrote “Hold Your Hand” immediately after her mother (the pretty lady on the cover of both the Dum Dum Girls’ self-titled 2009 debut EP and their 2010 debut album I Will Be) was diagnosed with what turned out to be a fatal illness, and it’s one of several songs on Only in Dreams that unsparingly trace her mom’s passing. Other songs spell out the emotional toll of separation from one’s lover, something Dee Dee had to deal with while she and her husband (Brandon Welchez of the acclaimed noise-pop band Crocodiles) pursued their own tour schedules.

“Just about all the songs reflect the fact that I’d been on the road for about a year, pretty much separate from everything real in my life except the band,” says Dee Dee. “A lot of it is about distance and detachment.”

On several levels, Only in Dreams is a great leap forward for a gifted songwriter and an equally gifted band—it’s heavy, deeply personal stuff and surely unprecedented for this style of music, and that’s what gives Only in Dreams both its uniqueness and its gut-punch emotional impact.

Only in Dreams retains Dum Dum Girls’ signature blend of the girl-gang eyeliner punk of the Shangri-Las, the trashy propulsion of the Cramps, and the moody atmospherics of Mazzy Star, but for the first time, all four Dum Dum Girls play and sing on the album. Now the harmonies have more depth, Jules plays her own distinctive guitar leads, and the Bambi (bass)/Sandy (drums) rhythm section powers the music like a vintage V-8 engine. Best of all, tons of time on the road—including two massively successful headlining tours—have molded Dum Dum Girls into a very formidable rock & roll band, giving the music an undeniable force.

And now that power and glory is showcased by a full-on studio production—while I Will Be was recorded at home and modestly spiffed up in a studio by legendary pop maestro Richard Gottehrer (Blondie, Go-Go’s), Only in Dreams was recorded at Josh Homme’s Pink Duck Studios, “almost a museum in terms of the old amps and guitars he’s amassed,” says Dee Dee admiringly. Gottehrer again produced, this time with Sune Rose Wagner from the Raveonettes.

Only in Dreams more than fulfills the promise of 2011’s He Gets Me High EP, with impassioned, front-and-center vocals from Dee Dee that sometimes recall one of her heroines, Chrissie Hynde; big singalong choruses draped with almost choral harmonies; a chugging wash of guitars drenched in reverb, tremelo and fuzz; and mighty, booming bass and drums. “I’ve always wanted to be in a loud rock & roll band and still maintain some feminine sound,” Dee Dee says. “So even though this album is much poppier and a lot more polished, it’s still tough.” “Heartbeat” hooks with its Buddy Holly-esque guitar line, while “In My Head” uncorks one of the album’s greatest choruses, and brace yourself for the incredibly poignant closer “Hold Your Hand.”

Listen to the slowdive ballad “Coming Down,” which Dee Dee wrote not long after her mom passed away. “That song came out of being in and out of awareness of the depth of the situation,” she says. “Sometimes when I write, I don’t really analyze what I’m saying but the more I hear that song, the deeper it feels. I don’t know if I’m addressing life or God or what, but it’s our big, epic song on every scale.”

Dee Dee wrote “Bedroom Eyes” after returning from a European tour, jet-lagged and lonely. “I was home alone,” she says. “Insomnia was taking its toll; I felt absolutely crazy. I looked up poetry on the subject and found a Dante Gabriel Rosetti poem and the song was born from that. I’d finally convinced my dad to give me one of his prescription sleeping pills and it kicked in while I was writing the song and I started hallucinating.”

Only in Dreams represents a musical evolution for Dum Dum Girls and a personal one for Dee Dee, and that’s no coincidence. “I’m for real,” she says. “We all are. I’m really passionate about this, it’s all I know. And maybe we’ve just grown up a bit—or grown out a bit. There’s some weight to what we do, and a pure intent, and I think that comes across on this album.”
Question: just how do you go about trying to match an album as peerless, wholly immersive, and as widely acclaimed and adored as Daughter's 2013 debut 'If You Leave?' Simple: up the ante on every level. Building on that record's gloriously dark intensity, wracked emotion and come-hither diaphanous textures, 'Not To Disappear,' the new full-length release from the London-based trio -- singer/guitarist Elena Tonra, guitarist/producer Igor Haefeli and drummer Remi Aguilella -- is a mighty declaration of intent. Profoundly ruminative and lugubrious, bold and direct, it's arguably even more assertive and compelling than its much-lauded predecessor.

Produced by Haefeli and Nicolas Vernhes (Animal Collective, Deerhunter, The War On Drugs), 'Not To Disappear' finds Daughter evolving in interesting ways. Recorded in New York, at Vernhes' studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, there are the usual intricate dynamics at play -- Tonra's gauzy, fragile voice, delivering powerful, anguished words detailing her inner turmoil, fusing seamlessly with Haefeli's tight, melodic guitar sounds and Aguilella's rolling drums -- but the sound, oozing with depth and resonance, feels infinitely richer. It's properly intoxicating stuff: "Numbers" soars and swoops through exhilarating crescendos, as Tonra recites the song's mantra -- "I feel numb/I feel numb in this kingdom" -- over and over; and "Fossa," like some majestic convergence of Radiohead and Sigur Rós, is possibly one of Daughter's most euphoric moments yet.

"A lot of it started with individual ideas," says Tonra. "Igor would write some instrumental stuff, and I would go away and write more tracks, learning how to use Logic, and how to realise something in a fuller way than just guitar and voice. As it moved along it went through various stages, sounding better and better."

The signature motifs are still very much in evidence, but there's a real sense of the trio opening up to new ideas. Although making the record wasn't the easiest of rides, co-producer Vernhes was key in bringing the group out of themselves. "Nicolas was wonderful," says Tonra. "We'd been living in London, and demoing and writing here -- we're perfectionists, pulling in different directions -- so it was really beneficial to go somewhere else to record it, just for a change of scene. Working with Nicolas was a real injection of energy."

"I'm a control freak, so it's hard to let go," adds Haefeli, "but I found a lot in common with him, as much in our positive sides as in our faults. He brought a quality of recording that wouldn't have been possible otherwise. And he's just a fun person to be around."

Haefeli has spoken previously about wanting to expand the band's sound into increasingly widescreen realms, and 'Not To Disappear' duly bigs it up; this time, there's distinctly more dramatic ebb and flow, as quiet intimacy lurches into thrilling kaleidoscopic expanses, noticeably more epic and ambitious in scope than the Daughter of just a couple of years ago. "To me, music is like a very fragile Jenga," he says. "You move one piece, then you have to move another piece to balance it. Elena is much more of a 'pure' artist -- for her, it's always about capturing the 'moment'. In that way, we're polar opposites, but I think that's what brings some of the magic to it."

Magic is right: this time, Daughter feel like an entirely new, different and increasingly fearless proposition, the alchemy of their music -- more resonant and emphatic, even louder in places -- somehow doubly alluring. They go flat-out and turn up the volume throughout, as Haefeli's beefed-up, majestic guitar lines surge and reverberate with renewed urgency and purpose, cut through by Aguilella's unflinchingly muscular, red-blooded drumming -- all of it gilded by a gorgeous electronic undertow.

The lyrics -- always Tonra's domain -- are more forthright, too, an even more honest reflection of her ever-questioning state of mind. "Expressing your emotions isn't a weakness but a real strength," she says, somehow empowered, her new-found confidence palpable. "I think with this album, there's less hiding. I used to hide a lot of my themes in poetry, but now, there's no veil.

"The first song we wrote for the record, 'New Ways,' was like opening another window. The album title comes from that song, and for me, as the lyricist, it's an important message. The older I get, the more I'm saying 'this is who I am'."

'Not To Disappear' has its unexpected bursts of uptempo energy, as on the propulsive stomp of "No Care" -- consciously striving to mix things up, and about as lyrically direct and embittered ("There's only been one time where we fucked, and i felt like a bad memory") as Tonra has ever been. "I go around collecting memories and feelings, and when I press record, stuff just... spills."

"Drifting apart like two sheets of ice" sings Tonra wistfully on "Winter" (from 'If You Leave'), and lyrically, it's an over-arching motif that carries through here, with loss, alienation and loneliness as prevalent themes. On "Alone/With You" in particular, she's brutally forthright ("I hate sleeping with you/Just a shadowy figure with a blank face/Kicking me out of his place"), laying bare her innermost feelings and neuroses. "Writing has always been a bit cathartic for me," she admits. "It's almost therapeutic -- I don't know how I would be if I didn't write."

Famously guarded about revealing the meaning to her lyrics, the singer remains keen to retain a little mystique ("I never want to explain things too much -- what I've said in the song is the most I want to say, and the rest is up for interpretation"), but, emotionally unshackled, she seems less worried these days about how her words might be interpreted. "It's a little bit 'fuck you' now," she says, bristling with defiance. "The new songs came out in a way where my writing was different from before. Initially, it freaked me out because I thought I had writer's block, but I realised it was just how my brain was working.

"On this record, I've gone to places I maybe wouldn't have been that comfortable with before. I guess there are a lot more sexual references, that kind of lonely interpretation of sex -- I don't know if many other people have spoken about it that way. But I thought, if my brain isn't trying to hide this stuff, then it obviously means I should talk about it. It feels like I'm being braver, which is liberating."
Venue Information:
Terminal 5
610 W 56th St
New York, NY, 10019