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Monday, August 4, 2014

Tonight in Music: Echo and the Bunnymen, Hamilton Leithauser

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Mon, Aug 4, 2014 at 10:29 AM


ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) It's been said that Echo and the Bunnymen could have been the biggest band in the world. Part of the wave of British post-punk acts that emerged in the late '70s and early '80s, the band led by the dour baritone of Ian McCulloch (with a personality to match) has, for whatever reason, never achieved the echelon of contemporaries like U2, the Smiths, and the Cure. It wasn't for lack of confidence—McCulloch famously labeled 1984's Ocean Rain the "greatest album ever made," which stands to reason, given that it was made by the "most important band to ever put an album out." Hyperbole aside, there's no questioning the central role in pop culture played by select Bunnymen cuts: "Bring on the Dancing Horses" in Pretty in Pink; the unlikely take of the Doors' "People Are Strange" in The Lost Boys; and Donnie Darko's use of the ever-majestic "The Killing Moon" several years later. Touring with a new album (their 12th), Echo and the Bunnymen come to town more than 35 years into their existence for something that's not a nostalgia tour, which maybe gives them the last laugh. JEREMY PETERSEN Also see My, What a Busy Week!, and All-Ages Action!


HAMILTON LEITHAUSER, AVID DANCER
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Hamilton Leithauser's finest performance will forever be contained those four-and-a-half larynx-shredding minutes of "The Rat," from the Walkmen's 2004 statement-of-purpose Bows + Arrows. Now that the Walkmen have disintegrated, essentially, Leithauser has forgone the bile to embrace the swankier, suit-and-tie side of his musical personality with his solo debut, Black Hours. The album opens with a snoozy lounge stumble called "5 AM," which is followed by the pizzacato traipse of "The Silent Orchestra" and the strum-and-handclap sing-along "Alexandra." It's a diverse if not entirely coherent record, and individual moments do stand out on their own, even if the whole feels like a grab bag. "11 O'Clock Friday Night" could be the highlight, a simple but straightforward pre-func pumper centered on a chorus of "You and me and everybody else." NL

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