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Song and Sound: The War on Drugs, April 21 at The Rozz Tox
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2011-04-19 19:50:47

The War on Drugs' Adam Granduciel

Wagonwheel Blues, The War on Drugs’ 2008 full-length, starts with two seconds of something before launching into the harmonica-fueled “Arms Like Boulders,” on which band mastermind Adam Granduciel sounds shockingly like Bob Dylan.

Those two seconds – perhaps filtered guitar noise, a light layer of percussion, and a single hit on a glockenspiel – aren’t essential to the song, but they are essential to The War on Drugs, which will perform on Thursday at The Rozz Tox in Rock Island. It’s a tease for the band’s atmospheric side that’s combined with straightforward Americana to create something unusual but right – Dylan and Springsteen fused with the experimentation of the Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine, and Sonic Youth. Listening to Wagonwheel Blues and the band’s 2010 EP, Future Weather, it seems amazing that this alchemic formula hasn’t been tried more often.

In a phone interview this week, Granduciel said the aesthetic emphasizes “two worlds”: “normal song structure and sounds.” As said in its review of Wagonwheel Blues, the band “emphasize[s] sound and song equally, showing a wide musical range despite the limited elements. ... [T]he War on Drugs’ approach comes across as not only natural, but imminently worthwhile, as if these revered sources needed to be roughed up a bit to sound new.”

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