Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Lost in the Dream

Lost in the Dream. Completely.

I can't claim this pieces' title as my own, but it describes my feeling perfectly as I listen to the album of the same name all the way through once again today. The atmospheric, captivating, lush and nearly perfect album by The War on Drugs is all I have been listening to for almost 24 hours, and this follows weeks of listening to the album all the way through already, maybe 20 times or more in that span. Although I don't write a lot of album reviews anymore-as most music fans don't have the intense and obsessive love for it that I do-especially of so many bands outside the realm of radio, but in this case I felt compelled because I haven't been this blown away by a recording for as long as I can remember.

The War on Drugs have been compared to Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Dire Straits, Tom Petty and others in the "classic rock" footprint, and they certainly paint with brushes dipped in all of them, but for me it's Dylan I hear most on this record. There's no question that Singer/Guitarist Adam Granduciel has a similar vocal style and tone to Dylan, but it's more than the way his words fill your ears sonically but also subtleties woven into every track on Lost in the Dream that echo the iconic folk rocker. Much of the guitar tonality and noodling/building of solos is reminiscent of Knopfler from Dire Straits as well but this album is in no way derivative; it's original and Iconic, even in its infancy.

There's a great article about frontman Granduciel in Pitchfork that I linked on my Facebook page describing his ongoing battle with Anxiety and Depression and the fact that this album came amidst such pain and torment is both unfathomable and obvious. "Great art comes from pain", as I've heard so many times and believe undoubtedly, but this record doesn't overtly reflect pain. It's not depressive, but rather uplifting in its sound and often in message. There are dark moments, like the aptly titled "Suffering", but as a whole this brilliant Album serves as an elixir to the melancholy spirit. It's often hushed and dreamy mood is not always uplifting but it's hopeful, pure and inspired. Considering where it's origin was, how the words and music were formulated and brought to life in the shadows, it's even more amazing it became the brilliant and radiant piece of music that it is.

It's hard to isolate specific songs and speak of them on Lost in the Dream because like so many other great albums, this one is meant to be absorbed completely as one entity. There are gorgeous individual pieces on this record, sweeping, expansive musical breaks, subtle and almost hidden undertones of a variety of instruments and a number of guitar parts that mesmerize and impress. On each track there's something memorable and textured but listening to the Album wall to wall is really the only way to appreciate it and have it fully resonate. If I was to choose a couple standouts Id likely choose "An Ocean Between the Waves", "Under the Pressure", "Red Eyes" and my likely favorite "In Reverse", but for me there's really no low point on this record. It's a ten song lesson in the power of rock and roll when left to the souls interpretation of what emotions should sound like. Anyone with a love of alternative, indie, classic, folk or mainstream rock should be listening to this incredible record. Hell, if you have ears, have at least shed a tear in your lifetime and think guitars are cool you should be listening to this Album. It's that good, without question.

History will determine if The War on Drugs and Lost in the Dream will be remembered as many of the legends before them, and it will be a difficult task because the musical landscape is not what it once was. Radio is dying, albums don't sell-the song is King-and bands are struggling getting their voice heard by the masses. In the past, those artists/bands who found little success over the airwaves built their following with incessant touring and the majesty of the live show, but there's data suggesting concert attendance is down for the medium and smaller sized venues, so where do bands not playing the Today Show stage and iHeartRadio events find their audience? 

Word of Mouth. 

If you like this album, this amazing band or any band you don't hear incessantly in the car or blaring from your kids room then tell someone. Tell everyone. Give life to what you love by making sure everyone knows about it. Lost in the Dream is worth a long and healthy life, as are many other great records and bands. Listen, share, and most importantly, sustain. :)


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