The Walkmen, a popular mainstay among the indie rock set who played at the 9:30 Club this Tuesday, is no stranger to D.C.—four of the five band members were classmates at the St. Albans School. Their latest release, 2008’s You & Me, was a stylistic departure from the group’s previous work. With more brass parts that incite visions of a far away mariachi band, the group embraced a more reflective sound. On Tuesday the band solidified this direction with a deluge of new songs featuring a more acoustic sound and horns-a-plenty.
Almost half of the set consisted of new songs, not unlike their new iTunes EP. Before the show we were able to meet with Kevin Moehringer, a member of the group’s brass section, to talk about the band’s recording process. The band’s brass section debuted on You & Me, and has played an increasingly larger role in the group’s music. This summer the Walkmen went to Gigantic Studios in Manhattan to record new material for an upcoming album.
Moehringer reported that the recording sessions included a nine piece brass choir, which had difficulty mixing in with the band’s banged-out sound.
The band is very particular about playing used, often very beat up, instruments. From the amps to the barstools the keyboard sits on, the band’s setup looked like a flea market display. There are apparently some fast songs on the new record, but is “mostly reflective songs.”
“Can you make this sound a little crappier,” was a frequent request, he said. “They are very sound conscious.”
The Walkmen kicked off their Tuesday set with a new song before launching into two heavier hits, “In The New Year”, and “Wake Up”. Lead singer Hamilton Leithauser’s vocals became were less yelpy, but almost warbled, as if he were channeling some Bob Dylan. With his high school class ring on one hand and his wedding band on the other, Leithauser looked well adjusted to his place on a stage with his closest friends along with his wife, a member of the horn section. The group traded instruments almost every song, and played comfortably and casually as if they were at their home venue.
Photo by Flickr user tvol, used under a Creative Commons license.