Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam: I Had a Dream That You Were Mine (Glassnote) Review | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam

I Had a Dream That You Were Mine


Oct 04, 2016 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

It’s not hard to hear Hamilton Leithauser’s contributions to The Walkmen: that plaintive wail is the thing that made the band recognizable from their 2002 debut through the indefinite hiatus limbo in which they now reside. Rostam Batmanglij’s fingerprints on Vampire Weekend, however, are harder to find. He played keyboards, surely, but starting with his Discovery record with Ra Ra Riot’s Wes Miles and continuing through his first solo singles, and his production and writing work with other artists including Charlie XCX and Carly Rae Jepsen, a picture emerged of a man with a far greater reach and impact on Vampire Weekend’s overall sound than one might have thought.

On their first full record together (Batmanglij worked on two songs on Leithauser’s solo debut), Leithauser and Batmanglij delve deeply into the songbooks of rock ‘n’ roll past while keeping a foot, or at least a few toes, in more current sounds. “Rough Going (I Won’t Let Up)” and “When The Truth Is…” bring in some doo-wop and smooth guitars but the drum production on both is rough and thudding, which gives the songs more body. Album closer “1959” is a music box come to life. “In a Blackout” pairs a hand-picked guitar with some of Leithauser’s most evocative lyrics: “Midnight/Where we used to dance/Underneath the ugly halogen lamps/Oh, it all went away so fast/In a blackout.” Halfway through the song, a ghostly chorus jumps in, followed by a chugging Johnny Cash rhythm, and it briefly expands before collapsing again. It’s a beautiful, rolling trip.

It shouldn’t work. The gap between everything, on paper, seems too extreme, and yet, perhaps because of Batmanglij’s attention to detail, perhaps because of the force of Leithauser’s persona, it all hangs together. “The Morning Stars,” with its surf drums, hard-strummed guitars, and tale of a haunting past lover (“‘Cause I’m the one/who rattles on/your windows/and your doors/Howling in/the night beyond/your walls/beneath your floors.”) is pure magic, in under four minutes providing more surprises than most albums can pack into 10 times that much real estate. (www.hamiltonrostam.com)

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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