Walkmen | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The Walkmen's third album, the new A Hundred Miles Off (Record Collection), starts off with "Louisiana," which sounds like Dylan doing a south-of-the-border romantic standard, complete with mariachi horns. It's a bold statement from a band that started off its previous disc, 2004's Bows and Arrows, with "The Rat," a song that heaves with disgust and fury but is still so relentlessly hooky that whenever I DJ it people yell for me to play it again. (I always oblige--it's so nice you can do it twice.) On Bows and Arrows front man Hamilton Leithauser sounded like Rod Stewart being fed to the lions, but now his delivery is a sinewy whine; the band likewise backs off from the songs a bit more, building them from organ-chord exhalations and an endless supply of reverb. They play around with different ways to fill the space, though the Spanish flourishes and dusty barroom piano nearly land on the wrong side of cute. The anxiousness of their older stuff is still there, but I get the sense they're desperately seeking to distance themselves from all the post-Strokes strummers they got lumped in with. A pedestrian album from the Walkmen is still light-years ahead of most bands' genius shiz, though. Mazarin and Rockwell open. Thu 6/1, 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $16, 18+.

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