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coverpic flag US - Pennsylvania - Full Moon 215 - 03/16/14

The War on Drugs
Lost in the Dream
Secretly Canadian

"Although Nixon declared the War on Drugs public enemy number one in 1971, the policies that his administration implemented as part of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 were a continuation of drug prohibition policies in the U.S., which started in 1914. Less well-known today is that the Nixon Administration also repealed the federal 2-10-year mandatory minimum sentences for possession of marijuana and started federal demand reduction programs and drug-treatment programs. Robert DuPont, the "Drug czar" in the Nixon Administration, stated it would be more accurate to say that Nixon ended, rather than launched, the "war on drugs". DuPont also argued that it was the proponents of drug legalization that popularized the term "war on drugs". (Wikipedia)

The War on Drugs (the band) was formed in Philadelphia, PA, around 2005 by Adam Granduciel and Kurt Vile. TWoD put out their debut album, Wagonwheel Blues (Secretly Canadian) three years later, in 2008, but then Vile left the band for a solo career. Granduciel (vocals, guitar) steered the band on through several changes of players, and today's line-up count long-time regular bass player David Hartley, who has been on-board since the debut, plus keyboardist/guitarist Robbie Bennett and drummer Patrick Berkery. 2011 saw the release of their second album, the critically acclaimed Slave Ambient (on Secretly Canadian as well). The neo-psychedelic, shoegaze-Americana, indie-folk-rockers mix Springsteen and Sonic Youth, chew it slowly and spit it out as lazed and dazed chill-rock. Or, sounding like SPIN magazine described Slave Ambient: "...Byrds filtered through a gauzier Spacemen 3 lens." They're a strange band for sure, sounding far, far off from any of the hip indie bands around today. Hey, they even make me think of... Dire Straits!? Hmm... Recalling Dire Straits in 2014 - that's the furthest from being trendy you can come, or what?

Lost in the Dream is TWoD a step further on, lost in their music and lost in dreams. They have come up with a collection of comfortable rock songs, but to me the album is too long. Clocking in at close to one hour, they could have considered killing a few darlings. That said the good stuff is quite spellbinding. TWoD are not shy as they are kick starting the album with the almost 9-minute long "Under the Pressure". The pressure is on from the start. The single "Red Eyes" is sort of pop-catchy, even though it does not have the most catchy melody in it. It's a pounding charmer, nevertheless. As is the song "An Ocean in Between the Waves", which is another long-stretched (7 minutes +) track. The vibrant instrumental "The Haunting Idle" is one of my fave tracks of the album. An album, which is a strange one. TWoD go slower, then faster, they sound slack, for then to become focused and fit. They are a surprising band for sure, but I cannot decide if this is a good album or not. This must be desert music, or the soundtrack to a sandblasted highway. When their label try to describe The War on Drugs' sound and trademark: "The signature meld of long tones and scattershot layers still stands, with phantom drum machines and organ lines dotting the musical middle distance..." "Burning" is another pretty cool track, as it's rolling down its long road. "I wanted there to be a singular voice, but I wanted it to be a project of great friends. Everyone in the band cares about it so much," Granduciel has stated, continuing: "That is the crux of it - growing up, dealing with life, having close friends, helping each other get by. That is what the record's all about."

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