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The Walkmen 

With the French Kicks and Coffinberry. Friday, March 5, at the Grog Shop.

Are the Walkmen the best band in the universe? If they aren't yet, there's reason to think that one day soon, they will be. The band that formed from the ashes of Jonathan Fire*Eater and the Recoys was already earning comparisons to a young U2 after the release of its debut album, Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone; now that its follow-up, Bows and Arrows, has hit shelves, it's more than apparent that the New York-via-D.C. boys are intent on carving out their own niche among the legends.

The songs on Bows summon symphonic majesty from the simplest of palettes -- the droning track "No Christmas While I'm Talking" never seems to be doing anything much, for example, until you've realized that it's taken your breath away. The hooks and beats are brilliant but never obvious, and even when the band goes straight-up, as on the fire-breathing "The Rat," there's a subtlety at work in the arrangements and vocals that makes the bombast moving. Suffice it to say, the Walkmen are amazing on two-inch tape; live, they could change your life.

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