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Bandstand Vol. 3

by Philip Brasor

The third installment of “Bandstand,” an occasional, low-priced showcase for overseas indie bands, is headlined by The Walkmen, a New York quintet that rose from the ashes of two Washington, D.C.-to-New York transplant bands, Jonathan Fire*eater and The Recoys. However, it’s been noted more than once that all the members, regardless of what groups they played in, have known one another since junior high school, which makes them practically a family. All five are now collaborating on a novel, in fact.

Such assumed like-mindedness doesn’t mean the Walkmen are musically homogeneous. Their music is difficult to pin down in stylistic terms. All you can definitely say is that their recordings are sonically experimental while remaining compositionally conventional. Vocalist Hamilton Leithauser sounds like Dylan if he’d taken classical singing lessons. He’s the perfect complement to the band’s sloppily loud, keyboard-created atmosphere, and there’s a shambling charm to his punk-drunk rave-ups. The overall sound is kitchen-bright, even if the mood is frazzled.

Stylistically speaking, the bill is all over the place. The Blue Van is an old-fashioned white R&B band from Denmark who last spring apparently upstaged Hot Hot Heat when they opened for them on their American tour. Melbourne’s Morning After Girls (Tokyo only) like to run their loud electric guitars through lots of processors and analog thingamajigs to attain that late 1960s California psychedelic vibe. London’s Boxer Rebellion digs that kind of thick sound, too, but in a more modern, post-Radiohead way. And the soulful post-riot grrrl quartet Von Iva, who hail from San Francisco, reportedly put on a white-hot show. Something for everyone who usually can’t afford this much.