It’s 2011, and maybe you’re an American indie rock band whose most obvious influences are Bob Dylan and My Bloody Valentine. You haven’t become a “buzz-band” yet, and maybe you’re inclined to give up. Because it’s starting to feel like the Internet is just a harsh musical environment for burgeoning acts: If your debut single doesn’t become an online hit, you’re not worth the time.
But there are always exceptions, right? Like the War on Drugs — a group that has been together since 2003 and at one point had indie icon-in-the-making Kurt Vile as a member — who finally is getting its big break on the release of Slave Ambient, their second LP and fifth recording.
Unsuspecting and curious, Ambient — a throbbing, swooshing, twanging, rocking record — strolls through classic indie territory with a confidence and maturity. The band’s sound is one that, on paper, seems ostentatious: the folksy croon of Bob Dylan meets Tom Waits’ rambling-man attitude. Or the rhythmic pulse of U2 beats behind Springsteen’s cocky rock presence. And the War on Drugs throws a red shirt in with the load of whites: adding the caress of shoegaze-y guitar feedback akin to My Bloody Valentine or Slowdive.
But lead singer and songwriter Adam Granduciel isn’t comfortable hiding behind these walls of reverb. Instead of washing away all of the character in their rock with a protective layer of noise, the War on Drugs use it as a platform to stand on, making what is probably the first ever arena-ready bedroom pop.
And while the War on Drugs can no doubt be classified as a band tailored for headphone-listening, it should be no surprise that the group can really bring it when it comes to performing live. Theirs is a sound meant for the stage.
Maybe, then, it’s no surprise that the band finally is getting its time to shine. Over the years they’ve crafted their music to be the type that delivers on all fronts, and they’ve finally managed to get people’s attention.
The War on Drugs plays with Purling Hiss, Carter Tanton and Dead Serious Lovers • Thurs, Oct. 27, at 7:30 pm • $7, presale; $10, door • 21 • A Club • aclubspokane.com • 624-3629