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The War on Drugs was formed after Kurt Vile and Adam Granduciel met in Philadelphia in 2003, bonding over their shared Bob Dylan obsession. Vile left after their first album, Wagonwheel Blues, was released in 2008. The “bigly” talented Vile has established a very successful solo career that is worth checking out (and should be considered for a SotW), but his departure has not resulted in the demise of TWoD.
In fact, their subsequent albums — Slave Ambient (2011), Lost in the Dream (2014) and this year’s A Deeper Understanding – have all received favorable reviews from rock critics despite numerous personnel changes. (Granduciel and bass player David Hartley have been the only constants.)
Today’s SotW is “Holding On” from the new album.
What you will notice immediately is how much Granduciel’s vocal delivery pays homage to his idol Dylan. Sam Sodomsky, of Pitchfork, expounds:
“Holding On” is decidedly action-packed. Buoyed by Meg Duffy’s winding slide guitar and a bouncing synth line, it shifts from hook to hook—dazzling with its intricacy or washing over you with its smoothness, depending on how closely you’re listening. It ends with a glimmering descending melody and pitch-shifted vocal motif, maybe the first moment in a War on Drugs song that could be described as “whimsical.”
Another great song from a great band! Fans of Dylan and Bruce Springsteen looking for something new and fresh should dig deeper.
Enjoy… until next week.