The Walkmen

All due respect to Sonic Youth, perhaps the Walkmen should adopt the washing machine as their emblem. And not just any brand: a Maytag model. The Washington, D.C. / New York City / Philadelphia quintet has been churning out a steady stream of superlative rock and roll for more than 10 years now, releasing six studio full-lengths along with daunting supply of EPs, singles, and other recordings. Much of that output is exceptional, and it’s all worthwhile. Generally speaking, critics don’t like to use the word “solid,” but in this case, there doesn’t seem to be a better descriptor.

Forged from the ashes of would-be-titans Jonathan Fire*Eater and Boston-based the Recoys, the members of the Walkmen — besides bassist-organist Peter Bauer — go all the way back to attending St. Albans School in D.C. In fact, frontman Hamilton Leithauser and organist-bassist Walter Martin are cousins. (For those who are counting, the remaining musicians are guitarist-pianist Paul Maroon and drummer Matt Barrick.)

The Walkmen released their first EP in 2001 and followed it up with a full-length, Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone, in 2002, making last year something of an anniversary. But the band is still as precocious and rambunctious as a 10- to 12-year-old can be, never settling down. Surely, “solid” describes a level of consistency, but the Walkmen never rest on their laurels. In the studio, the group has moved from recording at its own studio (Marcata) in New York to sessions in Oxford, Mississippi (the location of its current label, Fat Possum) and Seattle, as well as enlisting the assistance of impresarios like Phil Ek.

Their sound has touched on dive-bar-ready, bedraggled lo-fi to immaculate post-punk. All the while, the troupe has been committed to the kind of no-nonsense rock you wish more bands could commit to, and do well. And, it’s not just about what’s been caught on tape: The Walkmen play live constantly. The group begins a new tour leg tomorrow, 1/11, in one of its various adopted hometowns, Philadelphia, in continued support of 2012′s Heaven, which ranked in the single digits on our list of last year’s best albums. So what better time to sort through their terrific catalog? Of course, with a catalog this deep, selecting 10 cuts to spotlight invariably leaves out a few dozen more that were more or less equally deserving – let’s go over those in the comments. What follows is an essential sampling of one of America’s finest post-millennial rock bands.

10. “Angela Surf City” from Lisbon (2010)

“Angela” starts off with a punch-you-in-throat, how-you-like-me-now drumbeat from Matt Barrick. He’s one of the most talented stickmen in the game and rarely gets a proper hat-tip for stringing together series of complex, propulsive combinations. Leithauser chimes in after Barrick establishes his territory, singing about — what else? — a girl. The guitar parts and the general trajectory of the tune are very much in line with the Portuguese theme that runs throughout the record.

Here, specifically, come images of the coast, with references to white caps before bubbling into a full-on basher that would make Dick Dale sit up on his board and take note. But don’t be fooled by surface indications of babes and tans: The Walkmen almost always have a philosophical bent to their lyrics. Leithauser peppers “Angela” with reflections like: “What’s the difference? / Today’s a day like any other”; “You took the high road / I couldn’t find you up there”; and “Now I dream of a time / I was holding onto you / For a lack of anything to do.” Surf’s up.

9. “Louisiana” from A Hundred Miles Off (2006)

The Walkmen edge closer to home, geographically, on the opening track of their third LP. The Bayou State is the ostensible subject, Leithauser’s first word uttered mirrors the title of the song. (“Louisiana” also contains the lyrics for what would become the title of the album.) The beginning pace is plodding, Leithauser pensively considering the South. But if there’s a trademark element the Walkmen have perfected across their canon, it’s a marvelous build. And here the gents bust out tools they would use over and over again on later records: horns.

“I’ve got my hands full,” Leithauser sings, and then a Dixieland-style brass section pops off. The horns fade and they reappear to join the thrusting rhythms of a piano. The tune fades out, like a Mardi Gras party that might just keep going on forever.

8. “Heaven” from Heaven (2012)

If you’re wondering what’s currently on the minds of the Walkmen, just take a look at the video for the title song from the group’s latest release. Images of Hamilton, Paul, Walter, Peter, and Matt whisk by, a movable scrapbook committed to film. There are shots and videos of pre-Walkmen gigging interspersed with black-and-white film of the band’s current state. And, then, some quick flashes of their kids and significant others.

Leithauser begins the song, “Our children / will always hear / romantic tales of distant years / our gilded age may come and go / our crooked dreams will always glow.” These are older men, unburdened by the pretenses of the business they’ve chosen. There’s a contentedness to this stated pinnacle, but the band seems to be saying they know its place. “Stick with me / oh, you’re my best friend / all of my life, you’ve always been / remember, remember / all we fight for,” Leithauser sings.

The shots of the road might be the most telling, evidence of well-worn tires and too many nights spent on hotel room floors strewn with drive-thru wrappers. The gray hairs are more abundant now, but there’s also greater purpose. Whether Leithauser is speaking to his fellow bandmates or their families, the group has decided to stick it out together. And whether the war being waged is for something as basic as putting food on the table or loftier ambitions of musical integrity, the Walkmen have realized the battle’s worth.

7. “We’ve Been Had” from Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone (2002)

The Walkmen’s full-length debut is, as one might expect, scrappier than what the band has mustered in the studio in the decade since. But the record’s raw energy is gripping, and this stand-out is its best example. Walter Martin’s drunken saloon keys usher the tune into its beautiful stumble. Looking back, there’s a potent irony to these words: “We’ve been had / you say it’s over.” It’s probably a relationship Leithauser speaks of — if not Jonathan Fire*Eater’s relationship with label DreamWorks — but thinking of the Walkmen as jaded so early on in their career is more affirming than comical. Sure, they’ve lasted for longer than maybe even they thought they would, but it’s great to know they’ve always been looking at the world a little bit askew.

6. “Woe Is Me” from Lisbon (2010)

Another forlorn one from the crew, “Woe Is Me” trades the spine built of piano strokes on “We’ve Been Had” for another formidable Barrick beat. “Woe Is Me” begins with a resonant guitar part characteristic of Paul Maroon, cascading forward like a cup runneth over. It’s a fairly upbeat chord progression, but trouble is afoot. Leithauser has a girl, he wants you to know, who used to be his. “I lost my nerve and I lost my head / just about everything I had,” he laments. This is heavy stuff, and the refrain hasn’t even been unleashed yet: “Woe is me.”

Almost any other band would make this into some kind of depressing dirge, but not the Walkmen. Maroon’s guitar work buoys the affair, guaranteeing it never sinks into pathos. Still, it’s a tune written by wearied men: broken hearts and all.

5. “I Lost You” from You & Me (2008)

Let it be said that You & Me is the Walkmen’s masterpiece. This list could conceivably be made up almost entirely of songs from that album alone. So before any “Four Provinces” acolytes go apeshit in the comments, let’s all accept the depth and complexity of You & Me’s songs as fact. Choosing a few songs from this record as exemplary is like whittling a redwood into a toothpick.

Again, Leithauser has lost someone on this track. But boy, do the Walkmen know how to throw a cacophonous party around such loss. There might not be a single more powerful moment in the band’s canon than when he pipes in, “The trumpet and the trombone / still echoing in the hall,” and then, actual horns erupt. It’s a triumphant burst toward the end zone, worse for the wear but still driving on.

4. “All Hands And The Cook” from A Hundred Miles Off (2006)

There are certain cuts that, through the years, have stuck around and made it into most Walkmen setlists. This is one. It’s a rising, encircling mass — something you’d want to listen to before going into battle on horseback if there were still battles on horseback. When played live, Leithauser harnesses his inner Brando or Dean — especially if he’s rocking a leather jacket — enveloping the microphone with swagger. The lyrics of “Cook” are tough to make out, for the most part, but it’s fitting: This one is all about grit and bravado. Did he just sing about shots fired or broken windows? Probably; it sounds about right.

3. “In The New Year” from You & Me (2008)

How apropos this one is for early January. And, as for the Walkmen, it touches upon a subject they’ve covered before, most specifically on “New Year’s Eve” from 2004′s Bows + Arrows. Here, the troupe is looking forward — optimistically! — to the next 12 months. “I know that it’s true,” Leithauser croons, “It’s gonna be a good year.” And then, the prescience sets in. Released in the summer of 2008, “In The New Year” alluded to the then-upcoming presidential election. “We won by a landslide,” he sings, “Our troubles are over.” Well, maybe that last part wasn’t totally true. But it was still a pretty good year.

2. “On The Water” from You & Me (2008)

This inimitable song from the Walkmen’s most impeccable album is a stunner. It’s the third track and a slow boiler. Maroon and Barrick start patiently before Leithauser chimes in with his cutting lyrics. Pre-Lisbon, it could’ve been an inspiration for the “theme” of that later album. The song feels aquatic — coasting and waving along. “All the years keep rolling,” the frontman declares, his voice as broken yet assured as Leonard Cohen’s. “The decades flying by / but the days are long.” And then he shrieks and wails like a surprised baby.

As it crescendos, “On The Water” bubbles into a massive thing — a song the Walkmen can slot last in a set or as an encore. The band joins in to blast all of their instruments together and whistle along together. It barely breaches the three-minute mark, a dissertation in compact grandiosity.

1. “The Rat” from Bows + Arrows (2004)

If you’ve been to a Walkmen show in the past decade and the band hasn’t played “The Rat,” then you haven’t been to a Walkmen show in the past decade. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that a group could still enjoy performing a song like this. Do the Rolling Stones still get satisfaction from “Satisfaction”? How many more times can Kenny Rogers grin his way through “The Gambler” before he folds ’em? The Walkmen must be bored by now banging their way through “The Rat” at every show, but they shouldn’t (and surely don’t) hold that against the song. Any group should be proud to have written a gem of this remarkable quality and value.

Legend has it that the Walkmen stumbled across the tune noodling around one day. And Leithauser claims he wrote the lyrics in about the same amount of time it takes to play the song itself. “The Rat” is anchored by insane quickness from both Maroon and Barrick. Watching Barrick, specifically, bash the skins on “The Rat” live is a sight to behold. You hope his arms don’t fly off and, also wonder if the group should employ an NBA towel boy while on tour.

The song’s effusive energy would be enough to make it a lasting statement, but it achieves greatness because of Leithauser’s quickly penned words. “When I used to go out, I would know everyone that I saw / now I go out alone if I go out at all,” he repeats as the surrounding instruments slow it down a notch. It’s a morose picture he’s painting, a sharp juxtaposition from the molten-hot tempo of the instrumentation. But such is the directive and brilliance of the Walkmen: smiling and crying at the same time.

Listen to this playlist on Spotify.

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Comments (94)
  1. ddogdunit  |   Posted on Jan 10th, 2013 -2

    the only song you picked from their first album is “we’ve been had” ? the only song you picked from bows + arrows is “the rat” ? those might just be their two best albums and you picked the big, easy, singles. “rue the day,” “wake up,” “thinking of a dream i’ve had,” “little house of savages,” it goes on and on. this is a piss-poor list.

    • It’s not a bad list. I think your dismissive attitude and negativity is getting you your downvotes, but I have to agree with your base sentiment. Those first two albums are golden. And the songs you mention are truly some of their best. They have done great things since then; their song craft and sound has matured, sure, but you can’t deny the superior power and energy of their early work.

      For example, I love how in your face the drums are on Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone. It’s like the band is a thousand feet tall and you have to strain to hear Leithauser singing to the clouds, because of the sound of the bands boots cracking the pavement ten feet away as you flee for your life. The first 10 times I heard the song “Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone” I was so fixated by the drums that I could hardly hear the rest of the song. It’s impossible that that song is played by a single drummer, but it is. It’s a beautiful, unique, powerful moment in music.

      And “The Rat” is the quintessential effortlessly perfect rock song, but “Little House of Savages” has always been my favorite song off Bows & Arrows. The song is a beautiful woman that flirts with you from across the room for nearly two minutes before finally making their move, and then after 20 seconds of bliss it goes right back to playing hard to get. It’s perhaps the most exciting song I can think of at the moment.

      SO MANY GOOD SONGS!

    • I agree 100%. “Rue the Day” and the title track from the first album should be on there – and HIGH up too. That first album takes a little work to get into – but once you do, it’s colossal. The upright piano in that album has a sound that i’ve never heard before or since. Listen harder, collin!

  2. “The Rat” is number one so that is correct.

    Hats off to including songs from “A Hundred Miles Off” — a criminally underrated Walkmen album. And of course “You & Me” is also another incredible output for them.

    Although picking “Heaven” from the album Heaven seems obvious… it really is the most fun song on the album.

    GOOD LIST I LIKE IT NO COMPLAINTS

    • I love “Louisiana,” but I find a lot of the rest of the album really grating, as if I can suddenly hear everything people don’t like about his voice.

      • I’m with you Raptor J-Man, “A Hundred Miles Off” is actually my favorite The Walkmen album. It made me happy to see not one, but two, songs from that album appear hear.

      • i know what you mean, but i think it’s not as bad as you think cuz the most grating (and a lot of it’s the mix and production), ‘dont get me down’, ‘dannys at the wedding’ (a song i personally really like) and maybe always after you. the vast majority is great and underrated. has any song ever made you want to bare knuckle box as much as tenley town does?!

  3. I think it’s fair to say this list is pretty solid.

    I’m really glad A Hundred Miles Off got two songs. I love that album immensely. My list probably would have had “Wake Up” or “Thinking of a Dream I’ve Had,” but those are just personal preferences.

    And of course, “The Rat” is unavoidable at #1. You’d have to have a nerve to not put it at the top.

  4. Good to see “All Hands and the Cook” make the list. Originally, it wasn’t one of my favorites, but after seeing it played live, it really has an amazing energy to it. It’s clear that it’s one of the band’s favorite songs to play live.

    • Absolutely agree about All Hands. For me it’s the same with “I Lost You”, which I was somewhat indifferent toward until a particular live rendition of it made me hear it a whole different way. They’re so much more fun to see when they have horns with them.

    • totally agreed tiredandwired. i had to be in a very particular mood to get into it. then i saw it live. and now i love it and am always siked to hear it on record and live.

  5. “Red Moon” is my fav

  6. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • This is simultaneously true and false.

    • my “uuugghhhh” was not at The Rat but instead at everyone who treats the Walkmen like a one hit wonder. Every record review i read mentions the rat as if its the only Walkmen song that matters. It is without a doubt an amazing song, but its also part of a larger collection of amazing songs that they have put out over their impressive career. If you cant think of 9 other truly amazing walkmen songs to put in your top ten then you dont know the band that well.

      In conclusion: Four provinces

      :)

      • Thank you! Four Provinces! THAT is a hell of a song.

        Regardless: Fantastic band, too many good songs.

        • Personally I don’t even come close to treating The Walkmen as a one hit wonder. Without sounding like some fanboy who for some reason who needs to oddly ask for jusification…I have every one of their albums and have seen them live twice. I merely want to make sure every single person in the fucking world blasts The Rat as loud as humanly possible if not been done already. PS Guys shouldn’t end posts with a :). Now that deserves an uuuggghhhh

      • Thank you for mentioning ‘Four Provinces’ and also because yes, ‘The Rat’ is great but it’s almost the band’s ‘Hey Ya’ in that it’s the go-to track for people that want to talk about the Walkmen but really don’t know their music. Also any list that doesn’t include ‘Rue the Day’ is a flawed list., in my opinion.

        (yes I know this article is old but I’m posting on the day the band announced their hiatus so that’ the impetus.)

    • you have dumb things to say. i bet your favorite radiohead song is “creep” x10 too.

  7. Stranded & We Can’t Be Beat make my list.

  8. “Thinking of a Dream I’ve Had” is so underrated. They hardly play it nowadays but I still believe it’s the best song they’ve ever written. It should have the same status that “The Rat” has.

    • i don’t think anyone underrates it. i love it too, its one of my top faves of theirs. seen ‘em 7 or 8 times now and i finally got to see it live just a couple months ago. goose bumps, man

  9. Great list. I would have added Stranded for sure…but I don’t know what it would have replaced.

  10. Excellent list. I would have also added Red Moon, Stranded, and Canadian Girl.

  11. “The Rat” is just an absolutely perfect example of the ideal rock jam. It’s just fucking flawless. Funny story: I met this girl at a party who said she recognized me from earlier that day as the guy who very intensely air-drumming to “The Rat” in the car next to hers.

  12. A really good list. Well done.

  13. I’m not sure about everyone’s assumption that “In the New Year” is a happy song…

    • Yeah. I always got the impression that the narrator’s optimism is ironic. He can say that this is going to a new year, but he knows that it’s going to be just like the previous years, and he’ll likely be in the same place when the next year rolls around. I really don’t see the Obama shout-out mentioned above though. You and Me came out in the Summer 2008, meaning the song was recorded around the spring, and written sometime before that.

      Besides the timing issue, I don’t think any serious songwriter would use the line “our troubles are over,” with complete sincerity referring to an electoral victory. Troubles ending on a dime is about as likely to happen as a person making lasting personal changes due to a flip of a calendar page. I may easily be wrong. But my cynical ass enjoys this interpretation.

  14. Many Many many to choose….. I would have liked to see ‘Blue as your blood’ on there though…

  15. Good list. Made me go back and listen to A Hundred Miles Off, an album I have but never really got into. “Blue As Your Blood” is a gem off of Lisbon that has to stand among their best songs. Other than that, no complaints.

  16. I saw them this summer at Osheaga and they were the one band I was most excited to see. They didn’t play The Rat and I was…fine with it. Ok, I was pretty sad but they still put on a good show. They were stuck in the early slot on Friday and it was hot as tacos out there so I suppose I can see why they did such a low key set. But after years of air drumming the shit out of that song I was really looking forward to embarrassing my girlfriend with my behaviour.

    • the author of this list said that they play it at every show. not true at all. i’ve seen em several times since ’02 and it’s been left off a few times.

  17. On the Water at number two tells me that Colin is a huge Walkmen fan. Possibly one of the most overlooked songs in history. He’s literally having a fight with a partner at the end while the music is maniacally climbing and devolving. This is such a beautiful song to encapsulate the difficulty of relationships and fighting with folks you love. God Damn I love this song….. “That is dear, everyone but you”

  18. Really happy Woe is Me made the cut. It’s such an instantly likeable song that somehow is still under the radar

  19. I’ve loved the walkmen for the past 10 years. their 10th anniversary show was joyous brilliance. they’ll always be one of my top fav bands of all time, and this list does them justice! im surprised but it does! a lot of my own favs on here, but like any small list of such a big catalogue, many songs are missing. Blue as your Blood, is one for sure. But other than that, all the obvious ones are here, as well as some surprises (On the Water, one of my own favs). Any Walkmen fan will have more then 10 favs though. All in all, great list! Thank you!

  20. Definitely surprised by “All Hands and the Cook” – they do play it all the time in concert and it is a sight to see, but it just doesn’t grab me. “Another One Goes By” is my 2nd favorite off AHMO, but I can see excluding it since it’s a cover. It’s not one of my favorite albums but “Louisiana” is an easy and deserving selection.

    Was really hoping to see “Red Moon” although it’s hard to argue the three chosen from You & Me (an absolute classic from start to finish). Would’ve replaced “Woe Is Me” with “Stranded” or even “Juveniles”. Personally I’m a big fan of “New Year’s Eve” and “The North Pole” but I can see why they wouldn’t make the list.

    Bottom line, it’s way too damn hard to just pick 10!

    • Regarding ‘Another One Goes By’: I first heard that when I saw Quentin Stoltzfus (who did the original version) when he was touring as Mazarin, and while I like the Walkmen version, I’ve always thought it suffered by comparison to the original. Probably one of those “first version you hear…” things, though.

  21. OK, I’m doing this before reading the S-Gum list:

    10 – We’ve Been Had
    9 – Angela Surf City
    8 – the Blue Route
    7 – Everyone Who Pretended….
    6 – All Hands and the Cook
    5 – Little House of Savages
    4 – I Lost You
    3 – Wake Up
    2 – In the New Year
    1 – The Rat

    I feel like Heaven is too recent for me to have developed a love for any of the songs as much I love their older stuff, though We Can’t Be Beat, the Witch, and Line By Line are favorites from that album. All Hands and I Lost You are the two songs I was just lukewarm on for a while before live performances of them blew me away and made me rethink my opinions on the studio tracks. Probably one of my three favorite bands of all time.

  22. while all of these are excellent selections (except maybe “all hands” – which is absolutely incredible live, when hamilton’s voice is strong, but doesn’t deliver as well on the album), i would love to see:

    1. they’re winning – everyone who pretended…

    2. no christmas while i’m talking – bows + arrows

    3. my old man – bows + arrows

    side note: i’ve seen the walkmen 6 times (seattle) but have yet to catch any of these songs live. still hoping though…

    • Bummer. They did 1. and 2. at their 10th anniversary show in Chicago about a year ago. I’ve seen them nine or ten times and I can’t recall ever hearing My Old Man, though. Personally, I’m still waiting to hear them play “Emma, Get Me Lemon”, but I’ve sort of given up hope.

      • They played at UCLA before AHMO came out and played both “Louisiana” and “Emma, Get Me a Lemon” – both of which blew me away even though I was hearing them for the first time. They played both again when they toured for the album, but I don’t think I’ve heard either since.

        The last two times I’ve seen them they didn’t play “The Rat” which was unsurprising the first time around since they were opening for Fleet Foxes and were trying out a lot of new material, but very surprising the second time since it was at the Outside Lands festival in San Francisco.

  23. Heck, I’ll give it a shot myself:

    10. New Year’s Eve
    9. Another One Goes By
    8. Stranded
    7. Angela Surf City
    6. Red Moon
    5. On the Water
    4. Louisiana
    3. We’ve Been Had
    2. In the New Year
    1. The Rat

    The next 10: “I Lost You”, “The North Pole”, “Canadian Girl”, “Red River”, “What’s in It for Me”, “We Can’t Be Beat”, “Juveniles”, “The Blue Route”, “Blue As Your Blood”, “Heartbreaker”

  24. Am i the only one who is missing Juveniles?

  25. I’m really glad “I Lost You” was included. Though I’ve never been a huge fan of “You & Me”; it has great songs, but too many start to sound the same. I much prefer the leaner and prettier “Lisbon”. Also, can I get a “Red Moon”, “Southern Heart”, and “Little House Of Savages”?

  26. My two penneth:

    1. In The New Year (Maroon’s guitar tone here is glang-glanga-lang PERFECT)

    2. Look Out The Window (off the Calla split EP, very catchy)

    3. Blizzard of ’96

    4. Four Provinces

    5. We’ve Been Had

    6. I Lost You

    7. Thinking of a Dream I Had

    8. Seven Years of Holidays

    9. Danny’s At The Wedding

    10. Donde Esta La Playa

    Honourable mentions:

    Walkmen U2 Medley (see: Youtube)
    Little House of Savages (an alternative to The Rat, equally as good in my opinion)
    Canadian Girl (a slow classic, proves they can do gentle as well as fierce with similar aplomb)
    Always After You (‘Til You Started after Me)
    That’s The Punch Line (Don’t forget The Walkmen have a sense of humour. If they were that serious about half of what they said they’d've killed themselved by now)
    They’re Winning (Walkmen manifesto for the early years)
    What’s In It For Me (Walkmen have a good tradition of extremely strong openers)
    There goes my baby (Cover; Stubbs The Zombie soundtrack)
    I’m Your Son (Cover; Daytrotter sessions)
    Hang On, Siobhan (see: Canadian Girl)

    • Look Out the Window!! I think that’s a Recoys hold-over right? how warm and meaty is that bass tone?? That song creates its own tropical climate

  27. I don’t usually chime in on these things. everyone has their favorites, and I’ll respect that. I’ve been a fan of The Walkmen since day one, after being a Jonathan FireEater fan before that. I’ve seen them live more times than I can count on my hands, photographed them for publications and interviewed Ham. They’re easily one of my favorite bands my ears have ever had the pleasure of hearing. It’s hard for me to accept a list with only one song from Bows & Arrows, especially when it’s sitting at #1. If The Rat is your favorite song by the Walkmen, how do you not rank any other songs form that record in your top ten?. I feel like this list doesn’t quite show the diversity of The Walkmen, leaning heavy on the poppier songs.

    My Turn.
    10. Juveniles
    9. All Hands And The Cook
    8. Blizzard of ’96
    7. On The Water
    6. Heaven
    5. Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone
    4. No Christmas While I’m Talking
    3. Torch Song
    2. The Rat
    1. In The New Year

    * I left out Another One Goes By on the basis of it being a cover

  28. am i the only one that would take Heartbreaker over Heaven any day?

  29. It changes constantly, but here goes:

    11. Tonight Will Be Fine (cover from my favorite Daytrotter session…great song for 3am)

    10. Lisbon

    9. Stranded

    8. While I Gently Shovel Snow (my favorite of the many Walkmen winter songs)

    7. Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone (favorite song title ever)

    6. Blue Route

    5. If Only It Were True

    4. Heaven

    3. French Vacation (I’ve never heard anything like the sound the band generates during the guitar solo)

    2. Little House of Savages (does the opening of this song remind anyone else of the moment when you open the door to a raucous party?)

    1. Four Provinces

    Just missed the cut: No Christmas While I’m Talking; The Rat; Louisiana; Canadian Girl; I Lost You; Donde esta la playa; Red Moon; Blizzard of 96; What’s In It For Me….

  30. Glad “Louisiana” made it. That song actually introduced me to the band and it’s been intense periods of hugging and flirting ever since.

  31. my two cents.

    10. Red Moon
    9. Blue As Your Blood
    8. Juveniles
    7. Little House of Savages
    6. We Can’t Be Beat
    5. Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone
    4. The Blue Route
    3. We’ve Been Had
    2. On The Water
    1. The Rat

  32. The fact that Lisbon from Lisbon is not listed here makes this a failure. THAT song is the greatest and most underrated, probably least known song they have. So soothing and just a masterpiece.

  33. I think New Year’s Eve is the most overlooked/forgotten Walkmen song

  34. Little House of Savages is mah personal favorite, but I like the list.

    Also, god DAMN their live show kicks ass.

  35. I likewise would be happy with a list of all from You & Me. This list somewhat reflects my own, but I’d swap your Lisbon and Heaven songs for “While I Shovel the Snow,” “Lisbon,” and “Line by Line.”

  36. Would struggle with a top 20 to be honest. Changes all the time but I’ll go with:

    10 They’re Winning
    9 Postcards From Tiny Islands
    8 Stranded
    7 All The Hands & The Cook
    6 Canadian Girl
    5 Blue As Your Blood
    4 138th Street
    3 New Country
    2 Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone
    1 I Lost You

    Feels wrong to leave out Paper House, Woe Is Me, We’ve Been Had, Louisiana, Orange Sunday, What’s In It For Me and the whole of You & Me but ah.

  37. ive seen 7 different lists on my way down here(8 if you count homesickaliens super deep cuts) and i think every one is a legit top 10 for the walkmen. im gonna say it…vermeer ’65 off the dance with your partner 7″ is as good as anything ive ever heard.

  38. I’m a MASSIVE Walkmen fan and I can honestly say this is a definitely a solid list. I’d input a top 10 list of my own if I didn’t think my brain would pop in any attempt to narrow my favorite tracks down to 10!

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  40. my “uuugghhhh” was not at The Rat but instead at everyone who treats the Walkmen like a one hit wonder. Every record review i read mentions the rat as if its the only Walkmen song that matters. It is without a doubt an amazing song, but its also part of a larger collection of amazing songs that they have put out over their impressive career. If you cant think of 9 other truly amazing walkmen songs to put in your top ten then you dont know the band that well.

    In conclusion: Four provinces

    :)

  41. I’d throw ‘Little House of Savages’ on there but other than that totally agree with this list. I can’t think of a band with a more clear #1 than The Walkmen and ‘The Rat’ (besides, like, Chumbawamba).

  42. I would have had ‘Thinking Of A Dream…’ in there but I agree with the top two especially. The Rat is probably my favourite song of all time. It’s certainly the only song I can think of where I’ve never gone through a period of not being that fussed about hearing it.

  43. How come no one’s brought up any of the Nilsson tunes :). But seriously, I always loved their take on Don’t Forget Me.

  44. this list reminds me that i really look forward to when Indie Bands of the Aughts start putting out greatest hits albums.This would be a killer album. See also Hot Chip.

  45. Solid selection from a band that is great over headphones, but even better live. This list will probably kickstart a nice little Walkmen binge. It has been a while. Another song I would consider would be “There Goes My Baby,” a cover from Stubbs The Zombie Soundtrack. A great cover that still conveys the mystic that Leiber and Stoller put into it. Alright, I’m done being a music snob.

  46. Any Top-10-Walkmen-Songs list that does not include “Four Provinces” is a list that makes me sad, but other than that, this is a Good List, though The Rat at #1 is predictable, blah blah blah.

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  48. Anyone who does not have The Rat on their list is a contrarian- c’mon people, just admit it!!

  49. The Walkman is good. This list is not.

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