[Fat Possum / Bella Union; 2012]
Despite what NBC’s Olympic coverage would like you to believe, some of the most amazing feats performed during the 30th Olympiad have been in the Skeet Shooting competitions. Vincent Hancock’s super human performance, hitting 148 out of 150, was only challenged by Kim Rhodes eliminating 99 of her 100 clay pigeons on the female side. Both were record-setting and unprecedented, yet I can’t help but wonder what it would be like to be so close to perfection, with only one or two mis-steps in the way. You can’t blame them – as humans we are far from infallible. Even the greatest of athletes can have a moment of weakness (take the once indomitable Michael Phelps for example).
The same can be said for great musicians. Even the best artists have had their failed albums – Neil Young had “Everybody’s Rockin,” The Ramones had “Halfway to Sanity,” and Bob Dylan had “Down in the Groove.” So when I first listened to The Walkmen’s latest “Heaven,” I decided it must be the band’s first mediocre album. After an extraordinary series of five excellent albums (some may argue against “A Hundred Miles Off,” but they’ve probably never listened to it), I was okay with “Heaven” not continuing in the long line of instant classics.