Free and legal MP3 from the Walkmen (subtly intense midtempo rocker with year-end vibe)

“In the New Year” – the Walkmen
     So with the musical pickings slimming down with year’s end, I’m starting a new Fingertips tradition: revisiting the “Almost Bin” in December, to see what songs might be wanting and needing another chance. The Almost Bin, you see, is the file into which I deposit all songs I’ve considered seriously for a “This Week’s Finds” slot, but end up not featuring for who knows what reason. These things just sort of are. But this is such a non-science, there could well be a song or two in there that, if reconsidered, might sound, now, like a “This Week’s Finds” entry for sure.
     “In the New Year” was always really really close to getting the nod. Maybe in the back of my head I just figured it would be a better song to hear in December. There’s something idiosyncratic at work here, to be sure–the song lopes along in a sort of undefinable tempo; something seems coiled up, but the intensity leaks out in aspects other than speed. A lot of the vehemence is worked out through singer Hamilton Leithauser’s unrestrained capacity in his upper register–he’s not screaming or shreiking, but he is surely letting loose, expressing his torn-up feelings indirectly, via roiling combination of glad tidings (“It’s going to be a good year”) and troubled hints (“It’s all over anyhow”). Without a fully graspable structure–the song doesn’t seem to have verses or chorus as much as drum-free sections, filled with ringing guitars, and drumming sections, the latter dominated by that chiming organ riff–very new yearsy it is, somehow, yes?–which cycles through again and again, generating a driving surge of appeal as the song unfolds in its potent but unhurried way.
     The Walkmen are a NYC-based quintet that has been together since 2000. “In the New Year” is a song from the group’s You and Me CD, their fifth full-length album, which was released on Gigantic Records in August. They were previously featured on Fingertips in July 2004.

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