Cold War Kids
Reagan babies, missle fears, and international blues
Reagan babies, missile fears, and international blues. Cold War Kids began in the fall of ‘04 with jangly guitar, handclaps, and a Harmony amp in a storage room atop a restaurant in Fullerton, CA. For the first sessions between four friends, having instruments was not as important as heavy stomping, chanting and laughter. Clanging on heat pipes, thumping on plywood walls. Hollering into tape recorders. Slipping and swaying into alleyways and juke joints. Dreaming the American dust bowl and British maritime. On the roof the sound and feeling was cultivated and burned, built and hallowed out, painted and stripped to the primer.
Using songs of Dylan, Billie Holiday, and the Velvet Underground as a road map, they listen to their tiny inner voice to manipulate and structure their style with honesty. In 2005/2006 Cold War Kids self-released 3 six song EP’s (“Mulberry Street,” “Up in Rags,” and “With our Wallets Full”.) And toured relentlessly, sometimes with compadres Tapes ‘n Tapes and Two Gallants. It was these sweltering live shows and limited edition CDs that created the rapid word-of-mouth, giving birth to a burgeoning fan base, sold-out shows in cities across the country, glowing reviews in magazines like Rolling Stone & Blender. The band chose Downtown Records, the young Manhattan-based home to such talents as Gnarls Barkley and Eagles of Death Metal. A deal signed, the band regrouped to the studio and recorded their impressive and striking debut robbers & cowards in a matter of weeks. The result captures all of the raw power, smoldering energy and loose-limbed blues that make their live shows so invigorating.
Lyrically, Cold War Kids write stories about human experience in orchards, hotel rooms, laundromats & churches, seaports & school halls; characters that are funny and serious at the same time, like J.D. Salinger or “Peanuts.” There is the man poaching bills from the collection plate during Sunday masses, and a little prodigy whose mother is poking him to admire the Grand Canyon out the station wagon window; these are everyday wretched people trying their damnedest to live well while teetering between despair, complacency and joy. Tracks like “Hang Me Up To Dry” and “Hospital Beds” are fast fan favorites, full of menacing basslines, atmopsheric piano and urgent vocals. There’s a pretense of the ramshackle about these songs, but only in the way that Dylan and The Band managed the same. Listen closely; there’s a rich intricacy beneath that raggle taggle delivery.
Much like Blue Note Artists of the ‘50’s, the music of the group walks hand in hand with it’s graphic design. Bass player Matt Maust is responsible for creating the visual aesthetic by constantly documenting the band, friends, strangers, and situations both on tour and at home. The design facet is implemented through gallery shows, artistic web design, and supplement design books coinciding with music releases. Ultimately, Cold War Kids’ intent is to present themselves not just as four musicians, but as an expanding artistic community in which everyone is invited to take part.
"Hang Me Up To Dry"
"Louder Than Ever"
"We Used to Vacation"