The Sleigher: The Walkmen’s “Holiday Road”
HO HO WHO: A cover of Lindsey Buckingham's theme song for the National Lampoon's Vacation series performed by The Walkmen during their visit to the Chicago offices of the A.V. Club. The video is the first entry in the A.V. Club's "Holiday Undercover" series, and if you're seeing The Walkmen tomorrow night at the 9:30 Club, be sure to demand this note-for-note homage.
WE'RE GOING TO WALLY WORLD!: The Sleigher understands this is a novelty track pegged to the image of Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, and their frequently recast kids hauling ass to various points west rather than any specific holiday. But singer Hamilton Leithauser explains that when he saw the email from A.V. Club requesting a live performance of holiday themed song, Buckingham's two-minute highway pop anthem was the first to spring to mind. And while Leithauser doesn't enjoy the same backing vocals as the original, his typically dour and meandering band is nearly as chipper as Buckingham. (Face it: nothing will ever be as fucking chipper as Lindsey Buckingham's solo discography.) Bass and organ players Walter Martin and Peter Bauer (playing rhythm guitar here) don Santa hats while Matt Barick's drum kit is strung up with Christmas tree lights.
BUT NOT BEFORE WE STOP AT COUSIN EDDIE'S: Despite The Sleigher's affection for all things Vacation, The Sleigher didn't enjoy sitting through a vodka ad and meaningless credits at the start of the clip. The Sleigher understands that this performance is a promo for the A.V. Club and its sponsor, but it's still a bit much to endure for a two-minute cover. That said, while Leithauser and company do an admirable job in matching the pace of the original "Holiday Road," they could have attempted to make it their own rather than trying to mimic Buckingham. Leithauser's voice is not that bouncy. The Walkmen, most recently with Lisbon, are best when they are melancholy, plaintive, and even a bit angry. This "Holiday Road" could have led to a much darker place.
CHEER FACTOR: 8/10. Though a cheap, throw-away, incredibly guilty pleasure of a song is given a once-over by a band that could have made it moody and depressing, it's still a Lindsey Buckingham song, which means it's peppy as all get-out. The Sleigher wishes you happy holidays, though they're so much more interesting when you're out of sorts.
WATCH: The Walkmen's "Holiday Road"
The Walkmen perform with Tennis tomorrow at 8 p.m. the 9:30 Club, 815 V Street NW. $18. (202) 265-0930.