Sep 23, 2016

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Album Review: Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam – I Had a Dream That You Were Mine

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Hamilton Leithauser of the Walkmen and Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend produce a fresh example of indie rock on their first collaborative album, I Had A Dream That You Were Mine. These two successful and accomplished musicians are more than a dynamic duo. With pure honesty and raging vocal chords, Hamilton Leithauser and Rostam provide the energy level of a super-group.

The opening phrase of the album is the title of the album. For the first twenty seconds of 1000 Times, listeners enter a beautiful dreamscape lullaby world. Rostam’s trickling piano keys create the dreamy, introductory atmosphere. The dream ends when Hamilton belts out his entire soul – and belts reality back into the listener – the snare drums begin to rattle and the bass boosts the groove of the song.

Everything about track two Sick As A Dog reminds me of early Dr. Dog. With shuffling bass licks and a rocking drumbeat Hamilton is able to use the same voice he’s always had to deliver an uplifting emotionally packed performance. The third song, Rough Going (I Won’t Let Up), begins with an oldies, waltz vibe complete with oldies backup vocals (sh-doobie, sh-doobie, sh-doobie, sh-dooah). Rostam’s piano chords play a key role in driving the song forward as the snares march along the momentum.

Track four In A Black Out presents a lower energy mood as Hamilton rests his vocals for a majority of the song and only brings his full vocal strength out for a small part of the song. The song also features a driving finger picking acoustic rythym which provides the major forward force on the song.  The next song Peaceful Morning contains banjo elements and beautiful vocal melodies that make it one of the memorable songs from the album. The bridge of this song contains a really pretty, jazzy ascending melody where Hamilton gets to show of his falsetto vocal style.

The beginning of track six When The Truth Is… sounds like it could have been a studio outtake from the soundtrack of the 80’s movie Grease. This  intro guitar riff distorted with a beachy, sunset effect becomes the main melody of the verse as Hamilton’s vocals take place of the guitar and together with Rostam’s piano energy the song rocks on.

Blazing with harmonica and a jug band chunk and drive drumbeat, track seven You Ain’t That Young Kid skips along with Dylanesque colours and vocal attitude.  This song has the most classic folk, indie swing sound on the entire album. What really makes this track extraordinary is it’s seamless transition from indie swing to chill waltz and then back to the rocking, upbeat folk vibe.

Track nine The Morning Stars is a big attention grabber with its immediate racing drumbeat from the very second the song starts. The dynamics of the strength and volume of the beat throughout the song is strategically waving and changing to balance out the volume and strength of Hamilton. On the last song 1959 the album  ends back in the floaty, dreamy energy as Rostam contributes many different keyboard sounds and effects which take listeners to the peaceful end of this fresh world of indie folk music. I Had A Dream That You Were Mine is sure to generate a lot of attention from music lovers, critics, and other musicians themselves. This may be one of the top indie folk releases of 2016.

Scott J. Herman