Posted by: Dominic Umile | 06/01/2009

Close Listen: The Walkmen, Live on WXPN

The WalkmenNot long ago, The Walkmen stopped by Philadelphia’s WXPN radio station and delivered a fantastic session for the World Cafe with David Dye series, cherry-picking four selections from their most recent album, You & Me. Listen after the jump.

I’ve said a great deal about The Walkmen’s You & Me since it was released last year: I wrote about it for Phoenix New Times when it came out, and I contributed a blurb to PopMatters about it for their “Best of 2008” feature. To anyone who would listen, frankly, I’ve been prepared to discuss the album’s understated arrangements — warm and classic-sounding — and what I consider to be their best songwriting efforts to date. If you have the opportunity to catch this band in a live setting, it’s worth the trouble. I’ve seen their show many times, and they always turn in a really stirring set.

On a snowy night in December of last year, at Brooklyn’s Masonic Temple in Fort Greene, The Walkmen dusted off “They’re Winning,” the lead-off from their 2002 debut album for one of the more memorable live performances I’ve experienced. After steering the song into a dream-like haze of fraying tones and guitar feedback, the band settled into the cavernous interior’s ample reverb. “They’re Winning” grew slowly recognizable while an alien green light washed over the stage. We watched from the back of the room, and I remember thinking that I was sure I’d seen them do “They’re Winning” before, but this rendition was particularly haunting.

The WXPN live session, which aired on May 28th, commences with a powerful take of “I Lost You,” my personal favorite from You & Me. The studio version is a slow-cooking gem, heavy with regret about missing out on “the loveliest girl in town.” Check it out below.

  • Stream The Walkmen’s live WXPN session here.
  • Visit the band’s website for a sizable serving of streaming songs.
  • Listen to/download The Walkmen covering Leonard Cohen at the sweet Daytrotter site.
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