Artist of the Week: The War On Drugs

The War On Drugs‘ recent release, Lost In The Dream, single-handedly resurrects “heartland rock,” following the lead of Dylan, Petty, and Springsteen. Through their spiritual sound and thought-inducing lyricism, T.W.O.D takes their reign as our Artist of the Week.

The War On Drugs Bring Heartland Rock Back

If you’re anything like me, growing up was ultimately a time of musical indifference and frustration. New music often failed to excite you, leaving you culturally isolated from your closest peers. As you aged, and music became more important in your life, you were left contemplating the possibility that perhaps you were born a generation too late. Well fear not my friends, for there is always hope in new music

I first heard The War On Drugs two years ago thanks to a live performance on KEXP Radio (I’m aware I was somewhat late to the party). From the very first moments of the bands live rendition of “Best Nights,” I began to regret my late exposure to the Philadelphia outfits’ unique mixture of ambient noises and alternative rock.

Their performance proved to be more of a spiritual jam session than an actual rock concert, providing me with a much different musical experience than I had ever had (especially since it was from the comfort of my own computer chair). Such a performance ultimately brought me to the sudden realization that what I was watching was not a regular group of musicians; rather, they were a group of spiritual journeymen in the form of musicians, taking listeners to a deeper level of thought.

Like the first few miles of a lengthy road trip, Lost In The Dream provides a brand new experience, yet one that is remarkably familiar. Preceded only by 2011’s Slave Ambient and 2008’s Wagonwheel Blues, the Pennsylvania shoegazers’ latest work brings back all the blue-collar soul and natural elements of heartland rock. More often than not, front-man Adam Granduciel’s nasally rasp is easily mistaken for that of Tom Petty, Mark Knopfler, or Bryan Adams. As the heartbeat of the drums kicks off “Under the Pressure” it becomes apparent that the neurotic journey that is Lost In The Dream has only just begun.

Following the eight and a half minute opening track is “Red Eyes”; a song that sees our Artist of the Week taking the album’s spiritual journey further in the same direction. With upbeat synth sounds and a 1980’s feel, the song will leave “Dancing in the Dark” fans tapping their feet and bobbing their heads in appreciation. “Baby you’re on my mind, even if I lay anywhere” wails Granduciel overtop an energetic battle between the kick-drum and the snare.

While the band slows things down on tracks like the icy cold “Suffering” and the post-modern folk ballad “Lost in the Dream”, they continuously return to their signature moments of lengthy transcendental jamming, providing a soundtrack for the listeners induced state of self reflection. Perhaps the most beautiful example of his songwriting abilities, “Eyes to the Wind,” sees Granduciel incorporating an Americana-vibe to the record with a subtle southern twang and Dylan-esque imagery. With lyrics like “There’s a cold wind blowing down my old road / Down the backstreets where the pines grow / Where the river splits the undertows,” T.W.O.D paints a naturalistic picture, only adding to the overall experience of the album.

Through its melodramatic lyricism and extra-mundane sound, Lost In The Dream will surely provide the over-thinkers of the world with the soundtrack to their many sleepless nights and midnight drives. If this album made one thing clear, besides the fact that Adam Granduciel has many worries and anxieties, it’s that The War On Drugs have truly come into their own as a band. With such a distinguishable sound, and three solid albums in their repertoire, it is now obvious that The War On Drugs has only just begun.

Want to see them live? Be sure to check out The War On Drugs’ Rukkus page.

Article by Adam Lalama

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