Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Jams of the day, harmonicas in rock, and indie music on TV: The War On Drugs / "Don't Fear The Ghost" + "Snake Tongues" + "Baby Missiles"

I'm glad we've reached a point in our friendship where I can say "I like The War On Drugs" and you know what I mean. That other war on drugs is "bullshit", but Adam Granduciel and gang are "the shit". That Future Weather EP from 2010 still gets plays on my iTunes, and Slave Ambient was a perfect followup/expansion, working together some Tom Petty-channelling, road-trippin' rockers with some more, well, ambient soundscape-style songs. It's weird to listen to some of their quieter numbers because whenever I think back to when I saw them live last summer, I don't recall any dull moments or lulls or even feeling like I was being swept downward by their tunes. And yet, that's exactly what some of their songs do, in particular a new B-side they just released, somewhat appropriately-entitled "Don't Fear The Ghost".
Stream it here:

Oh wait! That's the more rockin' tune. "Snake Tongues" is the languid, hazy, psychedelic track that's newish. That seems backwards to me. I expected "Snake Tongues" to be some upbeat rocker about evil serpents nipping at your heels as you sprint through the desert or something like that. Instead, it seems to be about a weird drug trip. Whatever, it's great. Head over to any of these 1, 2, 3, 4 places to download the mp3 since I can't host it here.

One of my personal favorite tracks from both Future Weather and Slave Ambient is "Baby Missiles". It's not so different on the LP, maybe a slightly different mix or something, but the parts that always get me going are the way Granduciel's voice modulates rapidly in both pitch and fervor ("He's up and down like A NEW JACK TONE") and that fucking harmonica solo! How awesome is that?! Too few modern indie rock bands use harmonica, in my opinion, and I'm not just recommending it for the "let's be different" kind of thing. This is a damn fine instrument and deserves to be used more often. The War On Drugs took to the stage on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last night and jammed out this tune, complete with that harmonica part we all love. Dig it:

Say what you will about Mr. Fallon, his show, and his ability to ruin every SNL sketch with shattering-the-fourth-wall laughter, but he and his staff have their ears to the grindstone vis-à-vis the indie rock scene. They've pulled plenty of great bands on for sessions and had a bunch make their TV debut there, TWOD included (as well as a recent, lovely appearance by Sharon Van Etten). I'm thankful for this trend: more exposure for good bands, a chance to see ?uestlove play backup percussion, all good stuff.

The War On Drugs on the web: Website / Bandcamp / Facebook / Twitter
Buy Slave Ambient: Secretly Canadian / Insound / Amazon / iTunes / eMusic

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