Tag Archive for 'The War On Drugs'

Life In Mixtape Form #67

Life In Mixtape Form #67 from almostaghost on 8tracks Radio.

A kind of dramatic mix this week, not sure why. Also will be out of town in 8 days, so #68 will be a few days late. 🙂

- almostaghost

Concert Review – Sharon Van Etten and The War On Drugs – March 20 2012 Hollywood, CA

A few days back, I went to see Sharon Van Etten and The War On Drugs concert at the Avalon in Hollywood. A strange combo! But I am a fan of both, and was excited.

The War On Drugs, who put out one of my favorite albums last year, opened. I saw them headline five months ago at a smaller venue, which was fun. But I think their sound fit this slightly bigger venue a little better. But their momentum, tight on record, is given more expanse on the stage. More specifically, that means a bit more jamming, longer ambient build-ups, phatter bass.

To be honest, I cannot decide if their groove is derivative, or unique. A fine line, I guess! In the end, it does not matter. But original or not, I really enjoyed their noisy, groovy set, once again. And if they come back again in five months… I’m sure I’ll enjoy it then too. Here’s a song from the excellent Slave Ambient:

The War On Drugs “Brothers”

Sharon Van Etten, who, on the other hand, I last saw at a MUCH bigger venue (opening for The National), was impressive as well. She has a somewhat goofy, self-deprecatory stage presence, which was a little surprising considering sad, emotional songs make up the core of her catalog. Fortunately, this presence does not get in the way of the songs. She can switch focus and deliver a jaw-dropping performance like it ain’t no thing, even after awkwardly talking to the person in the front row (PS. we in the back had no idea what you were saying). Musically, I enjoyed her ability to pull off some of her slower, more drone-like pieces; and her band was also skilled enough to jump on faster ones too.

I did find myself wishing for a couple of songs where she just played acoustic guitar alone. Her first demo recordings are basically just that, and are so beautiful. But the new stuff has opened her up to a much wider palette, and for someone with such a great voice and such great songs, that’s nothing but a good thing.

Sharon Van Etten “Love More”

- almostaghost

Life In Mixtape Form #44

Life In Mixtape Form #44 from almostaghost on 8tracks.

Boom. Fair warning–track 2 is 18 minutes long. Went to another concert tonight, will write it up soon.

- almostaghost

2011 – Wrap-up and Mix

^ first, a mix. It’s not ALL songs from my top 20 albums either. I do like other things too. 🙂

And had a couple of requests for an extended list, so here it is. A few that narrowly missed the top-20 just came out, and if I’d had them longer and given them more of a chance, they could’ve climbed up. Artists, next time, release your albums before November, kthxbye!

1. Gillian Welch – The Harrow & The Harvest
2. The Antlers – Burst Apart
3. Radiohead – The King Of Limbs
4. The Kills – Blood Pressures
5. Kate Bush – 50 Words For Snow
6. The War On Drugs – Slave Ambient
7. Lia Ices – Grown Unknown
8. Bon Iver – Bon Iver, Bon Iver
9. The Black Keys – El Camino
10. Shabazz Palaces – Black Up
11. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
12. Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
13. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy
14. Thurston Moore – Demolished Thoughts
15. Eleanor Friedberger – Last Summer
16. Cut Copy – Zonoscope
17. Disappears – Guider
18. Youth Lagoon – The Year Of Hibernation
19. Vetiver – The Errant Charm
20. Bjork – Biophilia
21. Death Cab For Cutie – Codes And Keys
22. Sophie Zelmani – Soul
23. Little Dragon – Ritual Union
24. Gudrid Handottir – Beyond The Grey
25. My Morning Jacket – Circuital
26. Radical Face – The Family Tree: The Roots
27. Iron & Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean
28. Tom Waits – Bad As Me
29. Feist – Metals
30. Laura Marling – A Creature I Don’t Know
31. Anna Ternheim – The Night Visitor
32. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Hysterical
33. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
34. R.E.M. – Collapse Into Now
35. Rachel Goodrich – Rachel Goodrich
36. Bell X1 – Bloodless Coup
37. Dum Dum Girls – Only In Dreams
38. Wilco – The Whole Love
39. Wire – Red Barked Tree
40. Marketa Irglova – Anar
41. Marissa Nadler – Marissa Nadler
42. Jay-Z & Kanye West – Watch The Throne
43. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – Mirror Traffic
44. Ghostpoet – Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam
45. Release The Sunbird – Come Back To Us
46. CANT – Dreams Come True
47. Babette Hayward – You Might Be Somebody
48. The Roots – Undun
49. Wild Flag – Wild Flag
50. Paul Simon – So Beautiful Or So What
51. Thea Gilmore – John Wesley Harding
52. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
53. Blood Orange – Coastal Grooves
54. The Black Belles – The Black Belles
55. Alela Diane – Alela Diane & Wild Divine
56. Snoop Dogg – Doggumentary
57. Washed Out – Within And Without
58. Ringo DeathStarr – Colour Trip
59. Pterodactyl Plains – In The Air
60. Florence + The Machine – Ceremonials

that’s enough; all 60 of these I do like! You can listen to my 20 favorites on my Spotify playlist. Add me on there!

Thanks for reading. Thanks for following along. Thanks for talking about music, making recommendations, and sharing stuff with me. On to 2012!

- almostaghost

AlmostAGhost’s Best Albums Of 2011 – #6. The War On Drugs – Slave Ambient

Slave Ambient

lead me back to the place I'm from past the farms and the debris

I have read a number of reviews and commentaries around the internetz about Slave Ambient. While I kind of find myself disagreeing with a lot of the comparisons (Dylan, what?), many refer to the uplifting sound of their traditional American rock roots. They are clearly meant for a long car ride, turned up loud, sunset behind you. The reviews often leave it at that, though, and not The War On Drugs’ unique stylings.

Personally, I am not sure that traditional American rock is the right description for The War On Drugs. They are definitely closer to shoegaze, the proud genre of loud guitars and mumbled lyrics. The War On Drugs bring some different themes to shoegaze; instead of gazing at their shoes, they seem to be gazing at the open road. (Roadgaze?) A lot of their lyrics are blurry, but certain words jump out – harbors, freeways, rambling, trains, rattling in my brain, farms, debris, Northeast. There’s definitely some sort of world-weariness to the songs, that comes across in the words, the music, and the vocals. He’s just trying to get home, or somewhere. “There is a train we take downtown that buckles and bends from the weight of the ground,” Adam Granduciel sings, “You’ll understand when I leave so suddenly with breeze.”

Despite that weariness though, The War On Drugs have a quite uplifting sound. I think of it in terms of a Woody Guthrie, who also wrote tired-of-the-world songs that lifted you up. But The War On Drugs do it impressively without any choruses. Instead they hook you with the big chord changes, well-timed woohoos!, hypnotic bright drums.

And they make amazing use of the ambient instrumental tracks in between songs. While these tracks do add space between some of the more similarly-paced songs on the album, they also drive the whole thing. “Come To The City,” for instance, is a memorable song, but made even more so by “The Animator,” a 2-minute intro drone that brings “The City” to life. These ambient pieces, I assume, give the album its name, but more importantly make Slave Ambient cohere.

While The War On Drugs are ranked #6 here on my list, the actual ordering is not that precious. I’ve only listened to a couple of albums more often than this one this year. While “number of listens” is not my main criteria in ranking these, it does indicate that, man, Slave Ambient is something special.

The War On Drugs “Baby Missiles”

The War On Drugs “Your Love Is Calling My Name”

- almostaghost

Life In Mixtape Form #26

End of the month coming soon! New songs-of-the-day mix coming now!

- almostaghost

August 2011

And one more mix for the evening. As usual, it’s my monthly mix of all new 2011 tracks from new releases that I enjoy to varying degrees. This one has a good mix of popular, known, unknown, and becoming more known. Enjoy!

- almostaghost