New at Southwest Sound: Aug. 25

by Cooper Stapleton

Aug. 25War on Drugs, “Deeper Understanding”After years of making huge waves in the underground, War on Drugs has been signed to Atlantic Records, and are ready to make even wider and more powerful waves. The quiet psych group has established their sound over a couple records now, and this new one held no real surprises for me. The guitars meander from post-rock-inspired major key melodies to subdued surf guitar plucking with aplomb, with the emotional weight of the notes bearing constantly. My favorite part of any War On Drugs record are the weird soundscapes floating in the background that hit most listeners subconsciously. There is some really interesting synthesizer work on this record, calling to mind some of the middle-era Peter Gabriel albums. Where the last couple War on Drugs records seemed intimate at times, this one has a bit of grandiosity to it. I’ve only listened through once, and I already know that with repeated listens, this one will easily reach their peak of “Slave Ambient,” and maybe even surpass it.

Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real, “Self Titled”Most people reading this are probably familiar with Lukas Nelson and company from their tenure as the backing band for Neil Young on his last couple albums and live show, including when he played in nearby Telluride. When they aren’t touring with the man himself, they release music on their own. The new album seems a bit informed by their time with Young, capturing some soulful jams that toe the line between country and whatever genre you want to call The Eagles. The Lady Gaga guest spot on a few tracks threw me off when I read about it, because listening to the album, I didn’t notice it at all.

Gogol Bordello, “Seekers and Finders”It’s already been a few years since the gypsy punkers’ last album, and I think the world needs another Gogol Bordello album. You kinda know what you’re getting with Gogol most of the time, and this album will not surprise with any large jumps in styles. If you want a fun punk album with a whole lot of world influence and a big focus on letting go and not giving a [eff], with interesting string work and a frontman whom you are never sure if he’s a good singer or not, then you will like “Seekers and Finders.” It will be a good one to celebrate the last dying breaths of summer with.

Queens of the Stone Age, “Villains”In my opinion, Queens of the Stone Age are the greatest modern rock band in the world. I have seen them live, and the ever-present swagger of their albums translates to some of the most rocking concerts I have ever been to. Naturally, I have been eagerly anticipating the arrival of their new album “Villains,” and when the first single dropped I was … not happy. Turns out Mark Ronson, who brought us the ever-aggravating “Uptown Funk,” was called in to produce the entire new Queens record, and his influence is definitely felt on the first couple singles. “Way You Used To Do” feels like a pop track masquerading as a rock song. The second single, “Evil Has Landed,” is better, opening with a weirdly Beatles-esque vocal harmony leading into a pretty ripping riff. Then, about four minutes later, the track adds some really heavy distortion that felt at home on “Songs for the Deaf.” After spending some time with the record as a whole, I’m feeling a lot better about it. It is a bit clean for my liking, but it still rocks.

Cooper Stapleton

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