In the summer of 2011, I started up my first blog, Music Insanity, which lasted around five years before I decided to stick a fork in it. In its early days, it was pretty scattered and eclectic, its only constant being the music I loved. One of the ideas I had started out with but never finished was to create playlists, mixed tapes of a sort, of all the different alternative sub-genres. It was while putting together the second half of a two part playlist on shoegaze music, a kind of intro to the second wave revivalists, that I came across The War on Drugs.
Some music writer had termed them “Boss gaze” in reference to their second album, “Slave ambient”, and in exploring further, I saw this expression bandied about across the blogosphere. I found the term so humorous, I wrote a post with the term as its title and provided the video below to my, at the time, very modest readership for their consideration. Personally, as silly as the term sounds, I found it apt to describe the sound of “Baby missiles”. The song sounds a heck of a lot like “Born in the USA” era Springsteen, filtered through an early 90s Britain reverb pedal, Ride or Swervedriver, take your pick. Frontman and driving force Adam Granduciel was still finding his voice on this early album but you can almost picture him wearing a bandanna and jean jacket vest, much like a couple other bands (I’m thinking Killers and Airborne Toxic Event) were wont to do about this time. The beat is uptempo, built for handclaps, and augmented with a heavy wash of organs and harmonicas and vocal “whooo”s.
Six years and two albums later, this group has become relatively well-known, especially on the festival circuit, and has gone on to win a grammy for Best Rock Album. Nowadays, though, there’s another dubious term for them: “Dad rock”. Whichever you prefer, I think both fit.
For the rest of the Best tunes of 2011 list, click here.