The Walkmen @ Skylight Studios, NYC 4/20/06

Mark your calendars, kids: 5/23 is the release date for The Walkmen’s third full length, A Hundred Miles Off. Last night Skylight Studios played host to the Filter Magazine Music Appreciation Party, a mix of free booze and industry schmooze. But where I come from — and aside from a blazing Duke Spirit opening set — it was “The Walkmen show.” Over twelve songs (and the din of gabby unacquainted socialites) the band delivered a set of party starters and promising new cuts.

Though the new stuff was bound to be the focus, The Walkmen avoided a scenester riot and threw us a bone with past anthems “Little House of Savages,” “Thinking of a Dream I Had” and “The Rat.” Hamilton Leithauser’s got a bit of a boozed up croon himself, so you can’t blame the flavored-vodka fed hipster set for joining him, note for drunken note. The difference between the lit-up crowd and Hamilton, of course, is that Hamilton sounds great.

In interviews with Pitchfork and Spin, Ham spoke to a lighter, “groovier” sound, attributed to changing roles and band instrumentation. For each new song last night, with titles like “Lost In Boston” and “Emma Get Me A Lemon,” Walter Martin would escape his keyboard and don the bass, with Peter Bauer grabbing a shekere for some shaking. All the while, Hamilton did his part, center stage, belting Dylan-esque melodies with easy confidence. Enjoying every second of it. Sounds like A Hundred Miles Off is gonna make the mark.

Stream “Louisiana,” the lilting lead single from the album: QT | WMV

Some pics from last night’s party: