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THE WAR ON DRUGS

The War On Drugs

Live Drugs

    Culled from over 40 hard drives of recorded live shows spread out across years of touring behind multiple critically acclaimed records, LIVE DRUGS is unlike anything previously available in The War on Drugs’ catalog.

    The first volume to capture the band’s live interpretations, LIVE DRUGS is a document showcasing the evolution of the band’s live show over the years. Additionally, LIVE DRUGS is a portrait of the enduring relationship between Adam Granduciel and Dominic East. A longtime friend, guitar tech and stage manager, East is LIVE DRUGS’s co-producer and the presence Granduciel credits as holding everything together.

    Sequenced to reflect how a typical 70-minute set would flow, LIVE DRUGS thrives on live set staples immortalized on record for the first time. This includes “Buenos Aires Beach” from the band’s 2008 fulllength debut, Wagonwheel Blues, and the longtime musical interlude flowing between “Under the Pressure” and “In Reverse” - which bookend 2014’s Lost In The Dream. There’s also the band’s essential cover of Warren Zevon’s “Accidentally like a Martyr” – a song “so true, you should ever be lucky to write a song that simple,” Granduciel says.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    says: Remember when bands played stuff? If you're under 25 or so, you might not.. because there hasn't been one for about a decade BUT if you do remember then you'll remember that War On Drugs did quite a lot of brilliant ones, and were a lot better than anyone they played loudly near. This is like gigs but at home. Unsurprisingly superb.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    2xColoured LP Info: Opaque purple vinyl.

    The War On Drugs

    A Deeper Understanding

    A Deeper Understanding is the band’s first album since 2014’s universally acclaimed Lost In The Dream, and their debut album with Atlantic. Following the Record Store Day release of the 11-minute “Thinking of a Place,” The War On Drugs present the album’s lead single, “Holding On.”

    For much of the three and a half year period since the release of Lost In The Dream, The War On Drugs’ frontman, Adam Granduciel, led the charge for his Philadelphia-based sextet as he holed up in studios in New York and Los Angeles to write, record, edit, and tinker—but, above all, to busy himself in work. Teaming up with engineer Shawn Everett (Alabama Shakes, Weezer), Granduciel challenged the notion of what it means to create a fully realized piece of music in today’s modern landscape. Calling on his bandmates – bassist Dave Hartley, keyboarding Robbie Bennett, drummer Charlie Hall and multi-instrumentalists Anthony LaMarca and Jon Natchez -- continuously throughout the process, the result is a “band record” in the noblest sense, featuring collaboration, coordination, and confidence at every turn. Through those years of relocation, the revisiting and re-examining of endless hours of recordings, unbridled exploration and exuberance, Granduciel’s gritty love of his craft succeeded in pushing the band to great heights. 


    STAFF COMMENTS

    says: Adam Granduciel and co. exploded into our hearts with the peerless ‘Lost In The Dream’, three years ago. Taking classic 70s rock (particularly of a Dylan vintage) and somehow making it modern, here was a band for right across the ages, a band to truly believe in. They returned, this year (on Record Store Day!) with their magnum opus, and it was immediately apparent that with "Thinking Of A Place", they had, incredibly upped the ante. Here was 11 massive minutes of bliss and wonder. High summer and the album dropped: ‘LITD’ part two, or squared, if you like. The songs were huge (in every way) but the production was out of this world. This was sun-roof down, beers in the back, cruise control, heart-rending, shimmering classic rock. But, crucially, with a drum machine! Everything we could have hoped for in a follow-up to a modern classic.

    Lost In The Dream is the third album by Philadelphia band The War On Drugs, but in many ways, it feels like the first. Around the release of the 2011 breakthrough Slave Ambient, Adam Granduciel spent the bulk of two years on the road, touring through progressively larger rock clubs, festival stages and late-night television slots. As these dozen songs shifted and grew beyond what they'd been in the studio, The War on Drugs became a bona fide rock 'n' roll band.

    That essence drives Lost In The Dream, a 10-song set produced by Granduciel and longtime engineer Jeff Zeigler. In the past, Granduciel built the core of songs largely by himself. But these tunes were played and recorded by the group that had solidified so much on the road: Dave Hartley, (his favorite bassist in the world), who had played a bit on The War on Drugs' 2008 debut Wagonwheel Blues, and pianist Robbie Bennett, a multi-instrumentalist who contributed to Slave Ambient. This unit spent eight months bouncing between a half-dozen different studios that stretched from the mountains of North Carolina to the boroughs of New York City. Only then did Granduciel--the proudly self-professed gearhead, and unrepentant perfectionist--add and subtract, invite guests and retrofit pieces. He sculpted these songs into a musical rescue mission, through and then beyond personal despair and anxiety. Lost In The Dream represents the trials of the trip and the triumphs of its destination.

    "I wanted there to be a singular voice, but I wanted it to be a project of great friends. Everyone in the band cares about it so much," he says. "That is the crux of it--growing up, dealing with life, having close friends, helping each other get by. That is what the record's all about."

    As such, these tunes reveal a careful and thrilling reinvention of the sound that's become The War on Drugs' trademark. The signature meld of long tones and scattershot layers still stands, with phantom drum machines and organ lines dotting the musical middle distance all across Lost In The Dream. Note the way the keys whisper against the guitar's growl as the tempestuous "An Ocean in Between the Waves" approaches pentecostal heat. Hear how, when a sharp and hard riff cuts into the inescapable chorus of "Red Eyes," synthetic strings and baritone saxophone shape a soft, infinite bed beneath it.

    But there's a newfound directness to these tunes, too. Granduciel's voice steps out from behind its typical web of effects--louder now, with more experiences to share and more steel from having survived them. He sounds less like a prismatic reflection of a rock bandleader, more like the emboldened actualization of that idea. With its crisp, unencumbered delivery, "Eyes to the Wind" becomes the album's centerpiece and the group's new anthem. This is Granduciel's to-date triumph and the exact moment where Lost In The Dream moves from a tale of confusion to one of resolve. Throughout most of the record, grips loosen and senses fail, memories are mourned and expectations are abandoned. But after the Rolling Thunder lift of "Eyes to the Wind," Granduciel finds new contentment and direction. Anguish sublimates into deliverance. Backed by his bros, Granduciel becomes a preacher in a new pulpit.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    says: This one polarised the shop a bit. Hesitant in the beginning, it ended up growing on me and I consider it now an outstanding album and one that I keep coming back to. Easy to like with its references to Bruce Springteen, Tom Petty or Bob Dylan, it is an album that is not risky. It is not groundbreaking but it is pleasant and gentle. As Andy wrote long ago now... 'There is a mellow weightlessness to the sound which contrasts beautifully with the driving heart of the songs. They're sad songs, but never sorry for themselves. This is cathartic, redemptive, expansive music, still in love with life and in awe of the possibilities.' So there it is, if you do not have it, get it.

    Philadelphia’s The War On Drugs are the vehicle of Adam Granduciel, frontman, rambler, shaman, pied piper guitarist and apparent arranger.

    ‘Slave Ambient’, their second album proper, is a brilliant 47-minute sprawl of rock ‘n’ roll, conceptualized with a sense of adventure and captured with seasons of bravado.

    Recorded over the last four years, the album puts the weirdest influences in just the right places. Tom Petty and Spacemen 3, ‘Neu! '75’ and ‘Blood On The Tracks’, Flying Saucer Attack and Bruce Springsteen, New Order and No Wave, The Byrds, Bread and Burt Bacharach. How is a music fan supposed to reconcile all of this?

    Synthesizers fall where you might expect electric guitars (and vice versa); country rock sidles up to the warped extravagance of '80s pop. Instant classic ‘Baby Missiles’ is part Springsteen fever dream, part motorik anthem. ‘Original Slave’ might sound like a hillbilly power drone, but ‘City Reprise #12’ suggests Phil Collins un-retiring in order to back Harmonia.


    STAFF COMMENTS

    says: This is a beautiful, hazy, rock'n'roll record, which, sure enough shimmers and thrums and is actually semi-ambient. Check all the tasty influences listed below, but if I told you that Kurt Vile is a sometime member of this band and that this was like a mysterious cousin to Vile's "Smoke Rings..", then you'd get the feel of this album right away. Cool.


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