Cold War Kids - Berkeley Studios - March 6, 2013
Over the past month or so, the Cold War Kids have been playing small shows in Southern California, highlighted by a local show at the Observatory late last month. They've been showcasing new material from their forthcoming album, Dear Miss Lonely Hearts, and last night was no different.
Playing a small show that will be aired on KCRW in a few weeks, the Long Beach natives performed songs mostly from their new album, with a few old tunes sprinkled in. Onlookers were packed together, shoulder-to-shoulder, yet had enough space to guzzle their free booze, with a clear view of the makeshift stage.
As one of the first groups to benefit from the creation and subsequent explosion of music blogs, it's hard to believe they've been around for nearly a decade. Judging by the quality of their new songs, the band's better days are still ahead of them.
During a mid-set interview with Jason Bentley, singer Nathan Willett described Southern California and the importance of one's location as the inspiration in songwriting. This is demonstrated on the album's first single, "Miracle Mile," a song about the Los Angeles neighborhood.
The aforementioned song is a peppy, guitar-driven track with a piano riff that feels strangely familiar, while "Tuxedos" demonstrated they could write a slower, bluesy tune. These completely different songs may seem as though they're on opposite ends of the structure spectrum, but what they had in common was the appropriate blend of the band's older sound and the new direction they're going in.
Dear Miss Lonely Heart marked a return to the band's roots and may be their most complete effort to date. Perhaps this could be attributed to their return to Southern California (they recorded in San Pedro) or the addition of guitarist Dann Gallucci, who helped to produce the album, but despite the changes and evolution of their sound, Willett's voice is the defining characteristic that holds the band together
Although the entire broadcast was completed in an hour, it was apparent the band are hitting their stride. While bassist Matthew Maust was movin' and groovin' onstage, his band mates carried themselves with a swagger that's reserved for groups who are well in their prime.
While it's understandable for established bands to be apprehensive about mixing things up on their fourth album, Cold War Kids embraced a more complete, fuller sound without losing the traits that made them popular in the first place and will undoubtedly appeal to not only their core fans, but a wider audience as well.
Critical Bias: I've played Robbers & Cowards so many times I had to buy a new one. Yes, people still do buy music
Dear Miss Lonely Heart
Fear and Trembling
(Interview with Jason Bentley)