Monday, 28 April 2014

TORONTO TIM SAYS: NEW MUSIC: THE WAR ON DRUGS - LOST IN A DREAM +++++

cover art
More Tim Patrick.
I've been eyeing this album for a while; heard snippets. It seems that this needs to be listened to in one hit

Toronto Tim says:
It's a very rare occasion where you'll find me running down to the HMV in the big city to pick up a new CD... However, after one listen of "Red Eyes" by The War On Drugs on satellite radio, I found myself motivated enough to risk my neck and embark on the harrowing 1 1/2 hour trip down the freeway, rather than wait weeks for an Amazon shipment. 
Was it worth the drive? 
I'm thrilled to say... You bet!

Where do I begin? First off... 'LOST IN A DREAM' is a fantastic album! I had heard of Phillie-based The War On Drugs before, but just like another great band with a crap name - Destroyer, I was terribly misled by the moniker. Metal/hardcore/whatever? After actually having a listen to the music (not what I expected!), I initially thought it was one of those magical times when you believe you've discovered a great record/band that will become "my little secret." Little did I know that 'Lost In A Dream' is at the very top of almost every reputable journo's lists of best of 2014 (thus far). Almost universal praise and 4-5 star ratings across the board... It's actually refreshing to know that the press can sometimes get it right! 

The music... I really hesitate to mention musical comparisons lest they immediately scare people off. Let's just say that it's difficult to categorize... Very much like theaforementioned band Destroyer, there are a multitude of influences/inspirations going on here, yet the resulting sound is refreshing and unique... Band-leader AdamGranduciel has taken a inbred heritage of americana and classic-rock baggage and cleverly blended it with ambient, shoegaze, new-wave, dream-pop influences, and constructed a sprawling classic all his own. He spent almost two years fussing away, obsessively crafting the 10 meticulously constructed songs, and the results are sublime. The arrangements are densely layered and unpredictable; dozens of various instruments creep in and out of the mix; unrelenting reverb and hazy vocals remind us that we are indeed "Lost In The Dream..."

Adam has admitted that the record was born out of a period of extreme depression, a messy break-up and feelings of isolation. 'Lost' spends most of its time wondering how to pick up the pieces of a broken dream. Despite this, it's a sonically uplifting work. There are even whoops of delight that pierce out amongst the the darkness & desolation of the lyrics. 

Nine-minute opener “Under The Pressure” is an expansive two-chord jam, propelled by hazy keyboards and subtle horn arrangements. “Well the comedown here was easy, like the arrival of a new day” - “But a dream like this gets wasted... without you.” The three minute droning feedback & synth outro may have some reaching for the "Skip" button, but don't give up! It's the least accessible bit on the record...

"Under The Pressure": 

“Red Eyes” was the first song that I heard from 'Lost'... It's a galloping romper that explodes with adrenal rushes of energy and causes spontaneous head-bobbing. Makes me feel like a kid again...

"Red Eyes":  


“An Ocean In Between The Waves”, a epic seven minute slow-burning jam, brilliantly rocking out, recapturing the spirit of 80s pop radio; with driving percussion, propulsive bass-line and searing but tasteful guitar-playing that stands among the best I've heard in a very long time. "I just wanna lie in the moonlight and see the light shine in, with you in the outline…" 
"An Ocean Between The Waves": 

 
"Eyes to the Wind" is the centerpiece of the album. A striking ballad of gentle beauty that you wish would never end. Pedal steel and baritone sax add gorgeous colour to what's basically an acoustic driven number. Most critics compare this to a certain legendary songwriter that I'm not a big fan of, so I'm saying it reminds me of a certain Scot/Scott that I am a fan of... "I’ll set my eyes to the wind, but it won’t be easy to live again..."

"Eyes To The Wind":


"Burning" has become perhaps my favorite song on the record. However, the first time I heard it I actually cringed and skipped the track, since it was the one track that obviously wore it's influences on it's sleeve. One listen and you'll know exactly what I mean... Granduciel admits it's an barefaced homage to one of his heroes; and it's a killer. Chugging along on a wall of synths/organs, then soaring... "I'm just a burning man, trying to keep the ship from turning over... again." "Whoo Whoo!" I dare you to try and keep your foot from tapping!

"Burning": 

Closing track, "In Reverse" begins with a mood of hazy, ambient music before morphing into a gorgeous breezy groove, the lyrics finally bearing acceptance of the darkness & pain & the need to move forward. "I don't mind you disappearing, when I know you can be found." "Like a light that's drifting, in reverse.... I'm moving..."

"In Reverse": 

I've intentionally avoided direct comparison with other artists up to this point, but I can't help but say... This is the record Springsteen fans wish he had in him... 

'Lost In The Dream' gives me hope that maybe great rock music isn't dying/dead. This is rock music with soul.

Great Live Band Performance Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbzV2Y06G-E


Visit The War On Drugs website:  http://www.thewarondrugs.net/

10 comments:

  1. Hi Tim.
    ive had this a while and there are a lot of parallels to the destroyer lp
    the lp it really reminded me of though was new gold dream more in terms of mood , but there are some sonic echoes as well. Have you got the ben watt lp , my lp of the yr so far

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  2. Like Trev, I've been toying with this for a while. Seen it attached to an Amazon 'also bought' and have listened on YouTube. So May well give it go now :)

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  3. Hi David: I'm more than a little surprised that you've picked up War on Drugs, since I know your your not a fan of classic rock, guitar solos, Dylan or Springsteen. Don't tell me you actually followed through on cutting the sleeves off your shirts, after all of our bullying about your casual indifference to the Boss...
    Ben Watt's CD somewhere over the Atlantic. I'm looking forward to receiving it. The cuts I've heard are lovely esp. "Young Man's Game" & "The Levels". His voice just gets better & better. Sounding a bit like Roddy Frame? Glad to see he's put "Disco Ben" on the back burner. I've been meaning to pick up his memoirs too...

    Trev: You're right on. This is an album to play right through, headphones in the dark... and loud!
    Speaking of The Boss, I'm surprised you've stood silent on 'High Hopes'... I think Bruce needs to find some new best pals. Tom Morello sabotaged this album. "Hunter Of Invisible Game" only real standout...

    Nick: Perhaps growing up on the left side of the pond, I'm predisposed to appreciate a band like this more. Retro heartland rock influences like Dylan, Bruce, Tom Petty, Henley for sure, but I also hear echoes of Fleetwood Mac, Dire Straits, New Order, Cure, My Bloody Valentine, Spiritualized & more. I think you'll like 'Lost In The Dream' if you give it a chance.

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    1. Hey Tim. I didn't stand silent on the Bruce release; was one of the first to review it on Amazon, something I've only done 4 times. See my humbug review below.
      I've ordered War on Drugs and look forward to the listening. Currently dabbling with the idea of Spotify. I'm conflicted; hate the fact that no-one buys CDs anymore and heard that 100 Spotify plays equates to 0.01p for the writer of the song. Do the math. I am however skint and forever dancing around a pile of cases. What to do….

      HIGH HOPES:
      I'm giving this 5 stars even though I haven't heard it. I'm a big fan of Bruce's early years and live in hope that he'll come up with something that resonates in the 21st century. I feel like giving Amazon 1 star here though. I ordered the 'Limited Edition CD/DVD' well in advance @£10.99. With my one day delivery deal I was promised the album on the day of release; yesterday. I know, it's only Tuesday but... I'm now informed that the album is 'currently out of stock'. I can still buy it through Amazon though; if I pay £23.81... So, I guess what I'll eventually be told is that Amazon screwed up on the pricing of this Ltd Edition. Annoying though that the company doesn't have the goolies to confess to this. It may well be that I'm proved wrong, that the album will turn up tomorrow with only £10.99 debited from my account; I doubt it. I'm left listening to my mates giving (mixed) reviews to an album/dvd that Amazon promised special delivery on... Not the first time that I've been let down on the 'next day delivery' thing. Bah! Grumpy! Sorry... but I do spend a lot of money here.

      OK... finally showed up a week late. Turns out that my deluxe'limited edition (@£10.99) is just the Cd plus a DVD in a single sleeve; that 'll be lost down the back of the sofa by next week! I wonder if the folk that went for the 'same' edition @£23.99 got the same duff 'tag on/after thought' presentation. I doubt it...
      As for the music? It's OK. Muscular Bruce but featuring some of the most gormless guitar histrionics that I've heard since... well, Level 42 actually. Another story (worst gig ever) but Morello's overplaying renders the songs he plays on as clunkers; like wearing brogues with leather pants. 'Down in the Hole' is lovely, 'Hunter of Invisible Game' is the best track by far, understated and graceful. The Ghost of Tom Joad starts off promisingly, a muscular version of the acoustic classic but, Christ, here comes Tom again, with is work boots and bullet belt! Is that him on the outro doing, like, a guitar rap/scratching thing? Ugh... He's like Bruce's new best friend who stays for dinner and... just won't leave. 'The Wall' is a lovely thing but seems to these (now weary) ears to be based on Sting's 'Fields of Gold'. Finally, 'Dream Baby Dream' is awesome and yet... is it the same version as the EP download from last year. I think it's been twiddled with and is not quite as moving. So... a mixed bag; plenty to be happy with, plenty of Bruce by numbers. It'll surely translate to the stadiums; it all just seems a tad... tired.
      I love Bruce, but where are the spine tingling moments of connection? .
      I just wish he'd stop shouting and start whispering into my ear again.

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  4. sleeves are cut , bandana is on! I don't really hear classic rock in the war on drugs although having said that I'm listening to It now and I've just heard a "woah!" I don't see the Brucie or the Bobby connection , although can hear a bit of boys of summer and its ilk. I do get the feeling a bit like the Destroyer lp they will be a bit of a 1 lp band for me.

    The Bruce debate is over my head!

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  5. okay I've just re listened to eyes to the wind and there is a bit of dylan in the vocals. - I take it all back - Bob Dylan fronting Simple Minds

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  6. David: Funny you say that you didn't hear the "influences"... Well, with the exception of "Dancing In The Dar..." er... "Burning", I was the same until later reading all of the journos repetitive comparisons to other artists. I was was thinking Who? What? Where? They kinda spoiled it for me when I actually started to dissect the songs and hear the bits they referenced. I guess that's part of a reviewer's job. And Yup, I can hear a smidgen of New Gold Dream's soundscapes in there.

    TJ: Ha! Marvellous review of High Hopes. I love it when your cantankerous alter-ego (Crusty Jones?) makes an appearance. I imagine your day-job requires a lot of diplomacy & tongue-biting and you're forced to suppress your inner Crusty... Anyway, sadly I have to agree with all of your sentiments about the Boss. Still have high hopes that some day... but not this one.

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  7. 'Crusty Jones'! Love it… and, yup, I do have my moaning moments; mainly to and fro work on the M40. Manners evaporate when folk get behind the wheel and command their own bit of road. 4x4s are my current target of distaste...

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  8. I tend to use Spotify as a bit of a suck it and see . Although today have been working from home and had mm songs on all morning via Spotify (so shat should give you 1/2 p if they still had them) rather than the cds - maybe that is the answer buy the cds but then also listen to Spotify also you end up a double winner ... or at least with an honourable draw. Incidently what is to stop someone going on holiday with Spotify paying an artists tracks on repeat therefore clocking up the 0.01ps? - Guess they must have some safeguards

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  9. There is a chance you are eligible for a complimentary $1,000 Amazon Gift Card.

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