I am notorious for becoming obsessed with a band and then keeping them on repeat ad nauseum. For weeks at a time I’m consumed with their work, potentially even just one song (i.e. “The Shining” by Badly Drawn Boy). In the end, most are cast off, never to be heard again. The very thought of the tune is enough to send me into a tailspin of irritation.
But a few bands have survived the cycle. Cold War Kids is one of them. They’re an American indie-rock band out of Long Beach, California made up of vocalist/pianist/guitarist Nathan Willett (whom you will soon love), bass guitarists Matt Maust and Dann Gallucci, and drums/percussionist Matt Aveiro.
They started releasing records under various labels in early 2005 and their first major LP Robbers & Cowards came out in the summer of ’06 under a new Downtown Records contract. The whole album jumps between superfluous time-signature changes and darts back and forth between edgy Spoon-inspired sounds and White Stripes “blooz-rawk” affectations. And just when you think you’ve gotten comfortable… they start taking occasional dives into the kind of clanking Eastern European gutter polka more deftly explored by Man Man, DeVotchka, and Rain Dogs.
It’s an odd combination, but it keeps you engaged and it definitely keeps you interested.
The best songs of the records, and those I keep coming back to are “Hang Me Up to Dry” and “Hospital Beds”,
Their second album, Loyalty to Loyalty , released in 2008, is admittedly darker than their first. There’s a lot of narrative storytelling (don’t worry, not like a country song), as well as political and philosophical references (the title is from philosopher Josiah Royce‘s paper on learning to live in communal bliss) . It’s not necessarily my favorite collection but it’s always refreshing to see an intelligent collection get put out.
In 2010 they partnered up with producer Jacquire King who’s resume includes Modest Mouse, Norah Jones, and Kings of Leon (another love). The result…magic. I love it all. Mine and Yours was released in 2011 and I’ve been listening ever since.
If you listen to my Spotify playlist (check the sidebar), you’ve already heard my favorite track,
It’s slicker, it’s a heck of a lot cleaner, and in all honesty, it’s downright U2-ish. Sometimes I find myself missing some of their old rawness but the slinky “Cold Toes on the Floor” and “Royal Blue” are enough to fill the craving.
Bonus, this band tours incessantly. Check them out next time they stop by!