Drawing on Language
Spaces, 2220 Superior Viaduct
Through June 15
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The Walkmen are a rarity: They're a superior project stirred from the ashes of a renowned predecessor. The result of the unfortunate and disastrous crash of carnival noise provocateur Jonathan Fire Eater, the Walkmen, over the course of four songs, portend a pretty imposing future. Although it's tough to claim relative distinction with just an EP, the Walkmen feed their passionate songs with a host of indie rock references and a distinct reverence for U2. It doesn't take long (the first time he opens his mouth on the striking opener "Wake Up") for lead singer Hamilton Leithauser to evoke Bono. But despite the obvious comparisons, the band plays loose and creatively with an interesting mix of piano, guitar, and organ, yielding a performance that's as exciting as it is surprising. The "Incident on 57th Street" Springsteen piano tinkling in the opening of "We've Been Had" is a gracious, welcome nod to an unhip influence. "The Crimps," a distillation of inspirations, bends Joy Division's guitar howl around an organ's hum while the drum snares create a proto-War march. The Walkmen, for the moment, sound like the band that everyone wanted Radiohead to sound like. While Bono and U2 publicly compete (or is it campaign?) with a confused Radiohead for the title of "world's greatest rock band," they'd do themselves a service to give the Walkmen's short and sturdy eponymous EP a whirl.