Monday, 28 April 2014
TORONTO TIM SAYS: NEW MUSIC: THE WAR ON DRUGS - LOST IN A DREAM +++++
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...
“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!
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..."
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/