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Pop - Released January 31, 2020 | Family Jukebox, LLC

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Alternative & Indie - Released | Ile Flottante Music

Walter Martin's solo debut, We're All Young Together, was an album for kids that grown-ups could love, but his follow-up, Arts & Leisure, takes that young-at-heart whimsy in directions only adults will appreciate fully. Equal parts memoir and meditations on art and mortality, these thoughtful, downright cozy songs come alive with close listening. Martin's lyrics are as full of vivid detail and imagery as the artwork that inspired him; he puts his own wry imprint on his subjects, whether marveling at Michelangelo's inspiration ("I wonder how I can be more like him/Where I see a cracked ceiling, he sees the birth of man") or recounting the time Billy Joel walked into the museum he worked at on "Jobs I Had Before I Got Rich and Famous." Martin's touch may be even lighter on this album than it was on We're All Young Together. He never gets too didactic with the facts and references he puts in these songs; instead, Arts & Leisure's cultivated warmth celebrates the ways life and art go hand in hand. The sunny "Down by the Singing Sea" takes inspiration from the beach where Robert Rauschenberg lived without mentioning the artist by name. On "Watson and the Shark," Martin describes most children's reaction to fine art in refreshingly down-to-earth terms: "Portraits of old people, blurry water lilies, landscapes of places that looked boring, and interior scenes that said nothing to me." Here and throughout the album, the joy Martin finds in art is palpable, and contagious; the same playful spirit that moved Alexander Calder to build and travel to Paris with a miniature circus ("life looks good in wire, cloth and wood") animates these songs. However, Arts & Leisure is also more poignant than We're All Young Together, with the wry introspection of Martin's work with the Walkmen emerging later in the album. Songs such as "Amsterdam" and "Charles Rennie Mackintosh" -- where a trip to Scotland is warmed by cups of tea and squeaking chairs -- recall that band's flair for songs about travel, while Martin's ruminations on faith ("In a Gothic Church") and aging ("Old as Hell") sound and feel even more genuine than the similar territory the Walkmen covered. Arts & Leisure is so easygoing that it's easy to underestimate, but it reveals Martin as a first-rate storyteller who captures the joys of new sights and new ways of thinking in songs full of life and humor. ~ Heather Phares

Alternative & Indie - Released February 16, 2018 | Family Jukebox, LLC

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Pop - Released May 13, 2014 | Family Jukebox, LLC

The first of the Walkmen to surface with new music in the wake of the band's hiatus, Walter Martin said that parenthood gave him an opportunity to write songs that captured early rock & roll's mischievous innocence. He nails those feelings -- and many more -- on We're All Young Together, which, from its title to its songs, delivers a creative and thoughtful take on music that's fun for all ages. Like the rest of the album, the '50s and '60s influences never feel contrived: The hints of doo wop in "We Like the Zoo ('Cause We're Animals Too)"'s layered backing vocals enhance the song's seemingly goofy but accurate exploration of the kinship kids feel with wild animals. Later on, Martin wisely avoids making the standout "The Beatles (When Ringo Shook His Mop)" sound too much like the Fab Four, instead channeling the fun-loving freedom John, Paul, George, and Ringo still generate in young-at-heart listeners with a little help from his friends (who include bandmate Hamilton Leithauser and French Kicks' Nick Stumpf and Josh Wise). However, We're All Young Together doesn't completely forsake Martin's Walkmen legacy. The sweetly summery "Costa Rica" is a cheery echo of the tropical and folky sounds the band explored on Lisbon and You & Me, while the spiky, slinky guitar on "Rattlesnakes" evokes Bows + Arrows. The album's wonderfully whimsical songwriting also echoes Harry Nilsson, whose Pussy Cats got the full-album cover treatment by the Walkmen in 2006. Martin's deceptively simple couplets are a big part of what makes We're All Young Together so special, and they shine especially brightly on "Sing to Me," where Karen O's delivery of lyrics like "I'd like to breach the castle wall of you/And sing a concert in the hall of you" reaffirms her gentler side may be more interesting, and sustainable, than her career as a rock tigress. Here and elsewhere on the album, the tone is unexpectedly reflective, and it often feels like We're All Young Together is more about childhood than aimed at children: "It's a Dream" sparkles with the simplicity of the best parts of being very young -- listening to birds sing, eating lunch, taking naps. Fortunately, everyone can enjoy those feelings in these playful and poetic songs, which balance sophistication and wonder with an inclusive warmth that makes We're All Young Together a complete delight. ~ Heather Phares

Pop - Released | Family Jukebox, LLC

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The second album in Walter Martin's self-described "juvenile" series, My Kinda Music captures the funny, poignant nuances of being young in songs that build bridges from parents to children. This time, Martin borrows some of the appealing looseness of the grown-up Arts & Leisure; "Child, the Man Said," which sets a fanciful bedtime story to barrelhouse piano, could be a fresh-faced outtake from that album. Indeed, storytelling is Martin's focus on My Kinda Music, and he takes inspiration from a pair of master tale-spinners: Garrison Keillor and Randy Newman. The latter is even mentioned by name on "Hey Matt," a reunion with the National's Matt Berninger, who helped make "We Like the Zoo ('Cause We're Animals Too)" a We're All Young Together highlight. Here, he stands in for Newman, giving Martin singing lessons and commiserating because Newman wouldn't appear on the song. Meanwhile, "Family Tree" marries Keillor's folksy style with a genealogy lesson and wide-open strumming that sounds like staring at never-ending fields from the back seat on a road trip. Stories and family go hand in hand throughout My Kinda Music, and Martin combines them especially well on the bouncy call and response of "Marco Polo," where a kid humors his dad by playing one of his boring old games, and "Where'd You Go Uncle Joe?," which shows some love to aunts and uncles, who aren't the most represented relatives when it comes to music. And when it comes to Martin's music, these songs are among his most expressive, blending decades and influences in his inimitable way: the title track riffs on doo wop and calypso, and the tropical twang continues on the Laura Gibson collaboration "Trip on a Ship" and "The Everglades," which gets wilder and woollier as Martin and company get closer to their destination. From the irrepressible opener "The Wishing Well" to the finale "It's a Dream [Night Version]," which calls back to We're All Young Together with a sweetly tucked-in reprise, My Kinda Music has a wonderful sense of musical and family history. Martin achieves just the right balance of fun-loving and laid-back, building on an impressive body of solo work that also happens to be effortlessly heartwarming. ~ Heather Phares
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Pop - Released November 8, 2019 | Family Jukebox, LLC

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 25, 2019 | Family Jukebox, LLC

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Folk/Americana - Released December 6, 2019 | Family Jukebox, LLC

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Pop - Released December 4, 2019 | Family Jukebox, LLC

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 16, 2020 | Family Jukebox, LLC

Alternative & Indie - Released January 16, 2018 | Family Jukebox, LLC

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 27, 2017 | Family Jukebox, LLC

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Film Soundtracks - Released March 22, 2019 | Lakeshore Records

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