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+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
+ Múm - Peel Session
+ Deloris - Ten Lives
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+ The Places - Songs For Creeps
+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
+ Christina Carter - Electrice
+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
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+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
+ Excepter - Alternation
+ Chris Thile - How To Grow A Woman From The Ground
+ Brad Mehldau - Live in Japan
+ M Ward - Post-War
+ Various Artists - Touch 25
+ The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
+ The White Birch - Come Up For Air
+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
+ Giuseppe Ielasi - Giuseppe Ielasi
+ Cex - Actual Fucking
+ Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
+ Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
+ Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass Is Always Greener
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+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
+ Oakley Hall - Second Guessing
+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
+ Asobi Seksu - Citrus
+ Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs
+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
+ The 1900s - Plume Delivery EP
+ Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
+ Loscil - Plume
+ Boris - Pink
+ Deadboy And The Elephantmen - We Are Night Sky
+ Glissandro 70 - Glissandro 70
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
+ The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
+ Motorpsycho - Black Hole/Blank Canvas
+ The Red Krayola - Introduction
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+ American Princes - Less And Less
+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
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The Walkmen
Bows And Arrows

It must be tough to be a band from New York City these days. So much hype, so much glitter. And while I'm certain a whole lot of these bands are running around trying to be the next big Strokes kinda thing, The Walkmen are running away with the prize. As evidence, I give you their sophomore effort, Bows and Arrows. It's an excellent album, produced by Dave Sardy (Marilyn Manson, Red Hot Chili Peppers). It's catchy and personal and emotional, full of tales of hope and heartbreak.

The band includes Hamilton Leithauser on vocals, Walter Martin on the organ, Matt Barrick on drums, Peter Bauer on bass, and Paul Maroon on guitar and piano. While their former bands (Jonathan Fire Eater and the Recoys) had more of a garage-y kind of feel, this is a break away from the stereotypical "new" New York sound. It's equal parts Tom Waits, The Pixies, and The Pogues, with a dash of punky bravado thrown in to liven things up just a little more.

The album opens up slowly with a little bit of noise and sorrow in "What's in It for Me" — which is going to make you wonder where the rock is. But it hints at what's to come, and in retrospect, it's great to see that The Walkmen can pull off more than just a catchy riff or two. "The Rat" is next — the year is young, but this song is easily one of my early favorites of 2004. When Leithauser yells "You've got a nerve to be asking a favor, you've got a nerve to be calling my number, I know, we've been through this before," I know he's right on the money. For now, he can speak for all those young men out there who've been so badly wronged. You'll need to listen to this song three more times before proceeding to the rest of the album.

While "No Christmas While I'm Talking" is ultimately skippable, "Little House of Savages" is definitely a keeper. So is "New Year's Eve" (you can decide for yourself if there's anything to this winter theme they have going). It's a little bit of a dirge, but don't let that stop you from getting your groove on. It's kind of touching and wistful, and with such lyrics as "the more we talk, the less we understand," it's as if The Walkmen, with their sensitive and lovely songs, could surely be the next poster boys on your favorite indie rock-worshipping television show. Maybe a guest spot on "The O.C."? It's inevitable!

The album starts to wind down with "Thinking of a Dream I Had" — a weird but catchy combination of surf sounds and keyboard crashes.

Last but not least, the title track, "Bows and Arrows." This is probably the one song that keeps bringing in comparisons to U2, but just ignore them. It's jangly, but lovely, and finishes off the album on an up note.

So, my vote's for The Walkmen. Even with a couple of missteps, this is a solid album that will likely stay in heavy rotation on your stereo for months to come. As much as I'd like to keep gushing about how great a listen this is, The Walkmen say it better than I can: "We're singing a song, we don't care if we're wrong." Take their word for it. New York City is here to stay.

by Anne Leavitt-Gruberger

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