There’s a lot happening in the music world, and we here at Heavy Blog try our very best to keep up with it! Like the vast majority of heavy music fans, our tastes are incredibly vast, with our 3X3s in each Playlist Update typically covering numerous genres and sometimes a different style in each square. While we have occasionally covered non-metal topics in past blog posts, we decided that a dedicated column was warranted in order to more completely recommend all of the music that we have been listening to. Unmetal Monday is a bi-weekly column which covers noteworthy tracks and albums from outside the metal universe, and we encourage you all to share your favorite non-metal picks from the week in the comments. As is tradition, we’ll be highlighting a few albums and tracks that struck our fancy over the past few weeks. Head past the jump to dial down the distortion:
Hamilton Leithauser – The Loves of Your Life
The Walkmen were an indie rock band from New York City that meant a lot to me during their decade-long run of excellence. Their albums Lisbon and Heaven accompanied me during the hardest week of my adult life, and I’d be lying if I said that there wasn’t a quality-agnostic bias in my heart toward their music. But whether or not the band soundtracked your dark night of the soul, there’s an objective case to be made about their status as one of the best indie rock bands of the mid-aughts. Frontman Hamilton Leithauser has taken his music career solo since the band’s split in 2012, releasing two records of indie/Americana balladry that have definitely scratched that itch The Walkmen have left untouched for years. His latest effort, The Loves of Your Life, is his most thoroughly enjoyable release of the post-Walkmen era, and one well worth diving into.
The Loves of Your Life speaks directly into a global culture of isolation (and not just because of the pandemic, we were taking each other for granted long before this) through a record drenched top-to-bottom in community and collaboration. Each song on this record is written about a specific person and situation, making Leithauser’s off-kilter crooning feel both immediate and joyous. Hell, his own wife, daughters, and their preschool teacher are featured in back-up vocals throughout, turning a record built on a catalog of factual stories about real people into an uproarious and deeply intimate affair that feels distinctly, and fundamentally human to a fault. Aside from the content, Leithauser has rarely sounded more confident, vibrant, and invested. His distinctive voice fills tracks like “The Garbage Men” and “The Stars of Tomorrow” with all the drunken bravado that populated the best music of The Walkmen, channeling a Tom Waits energy that’s hard not to get swept up into. The music is no less interesting, making for a record that hits on every level.
I still miss The Walkmen and the distinct levels of comfort, existential unease, and profound introspection their music encouraged in me. But if Hamilton Leithauser’s solo career thus far is any indication, the spirit that propelled that band to underrated legend status is alive and very well. For a world bathed in aloneness, The Loves of Your Life is the type of record that reminds us that the passing relationships and people we’ve taken for granted are worth close inspection, deep thought, and the expenditure of our very limited time on this planet. That by itself is a potential marker of a quality, valuable, timeless and universal work of art. When the music is this good, it makes the message all the sweeter. A fantastic listen.