Hamilton Leithauser doesn't downplay the idea that he sounds a lot like Bob Dylan.
The lead vocalist of the Walkmen covered "Subterranean Homesick Blues" on the New York band's 2006 release, Pussy Cats. And the latest batch of Walkmen tracks being recorded for the quintet's forthcoming album brim with semi-spoken, sliding-pitch deliveries reminiscent of "Like a Rolling Stone."
Maybe it's just that Leithauser is smart enough to know that simulating musical genius isn't such a bad idea, as long as you can pull it off.
He and three of the other four Walkmen are alums of the elite Washington, D.C., prep school St. Albans. St. Albans grads include former Vice President Al Gore and Senators Evan Bayh and John Warner.
Leithauser is the younger cousin of Walkmen bassist Walter Martin. Martin, along with drummer Matt Barrick and guitarist Paul Maroon, started a St. Albans band in fifth grade called the Ignobles. The preteen boy band opened for the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Lenny Kravitz and Fugazi, taking refuge in a rock 'n' roll culture that contrasted sharply with their shirt-and-tie prep-school world. During their college years, Martin, Barrick and Maroon went on to form Jonathan Fire Eater, an influential indie-rock band that was signed to David Geffen's Dreamworks label in 1997.
The Walkmen formed in 2000 and have released four albums since their 2002 debut, Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone. They've been known for their use of vintage instrumentation, including an upright piano. They became a force in the national indie-rock scene on the strength of their 2004 album, Bows and Arrows. That disc included the Walkmen's most popular song, "The Rat," with its tension built on racing percussion, baroque electric guitar rock and the rising and falling pitch of Leithauser's vocals.
MP3s of the Walkmen's new songs are already circulating on the Internet, and the band will preview them live at Saturday night's High Noon show. The first single off the yet-unnamed record - "I Lost You" - is as Dylanesque as any original track the Walkmen have made.
The White Rabbits, a New York City band with two drummers, three singers and plenty of national buzz, open the show.