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Robbers & Cowards Import
This LA band has toured nationally with Two Gallants, Tapes 'N Tapes, Sound Team, and done Lollapalooza dates. They're known for their electric live shows and major publications have already taken notice, with coverage in Spin and a 4-star review in Rolling Stone. "A gorgeous piece of geek-rock soul...Bravo, kids!" - Rolling Stone. "Imagine the rawness of The White Stripes on day one. Or what Spoon would sound like at a church camp making music with found objects" - LA Weekly.
You've heard at least three dozen bands like Cold War Kids already. Bands fascinated with the first Strokes album and bent on expanding the promise of that artistically ill-fated group; bands bent on delivering records that have a fresh take on life in suburbia but offering instead a minor variation of angsty clichés; bands that have quirky-but-catchy takes on songwriting; bands that try a little too hard. As unique as some of the ideas on Robbers and Cowards are, it doesn't take long before Nathan Willett's vocals begin to grate (even when he channels Jeff Buckley during "Passing the Hat") and the time between the initial excitement that swells with the opening cut "We Used to Vacation" and the moment you realize that Cold War Kids is just another mainstream band over-mining a once fertile underground sound is short enough that you can cut your losses and find something more worthwhile. --Jedd Beaudoin
I am shocked (and a little annoyed) by the presumptuous nature of the Amazon review (by Jedd Beaudoin). Perhaps the reviewer actually knows the band personally and can speak to such things, but probably not (I can be presumptuous as well!). The one kernel of truth in his review is that the Cold War Kids do "have quirky-but-catchy [...] songwriting." He nailed it there, but he then presumes to climb into their heads to speak about their motivations and aspirations. He accuses them of being "fascinated with the first Stokes album" and of "trying too hard." He charges them with trying to deliver a "fresh take on life in suburbia" but, failing here, they only deliver "a minor variation of angsty clichés."
Maybe the reviewer is so into the music scene he knows what would motivate himself to produce a similar record. Maybe such an effort on his own behalf would truly be derivative of the Strokes, etc. Maybe his view is jaded by his own experience. Why isn't it possible that these guys are just being true to themselves and the(ir) music? Why can't this music be genuine and heart-felt? Maybe it is others who are preoccupied with image and marketing, not the Cold War Kids themselves. That's what I choose to believe, anyway. I spent some time on their website reading their "journal". I was impressed with what I felt was sincere, genuine, and very humorous.
As far as I'm concerned these guys created a fantastic album that is a representation of who and what they are rather than what they are "trying" to be. I'm blessed to have experienced it. I encourage you to experience it for yourself. Regarding the Amazon reviewer, I suggest he is projecting his own pretentiousness onto the "Kids."
But thanks for not getting to them sooner, not before they completed their debut album, Robbers & Cowards, in 2006.
The album sings of alcoholism and families, of church and homelessness, of clerk jobs and college boys, of hospital beds and wife-mother collusion. Sometimes boppy (almost hip-hop) in delivery, the lyrics appropriately capture what it means to be a middle-aged, middle-income, or middle-brained American. Blues roots are obvious, the guitar riffs on songs like Rubidoux approach something akin to Albert Hammond, Jr., and the howling of Nathan Willett on basically every song can send shivers down the spine of anyone having shared his sentiment at one point or another.
The most popular song off the album, the much-aired Hang Me Up to Dry, might have the album's only drawback in that the obnoxious piano cacophony that hipsters pretended to enjoy disrupts an otherwise mind-pounding and fitting rhythm. Still, Willett's haunting screeches sound to be restrained by the mind of a man who doesn't want to tell all, which is what makes the album that much more enjoyable - the anticipation of more.
Unfortunately, we never got more. Loyalty to Loyalty (2008) didn't come close, and Cold War Kids finally lost their way artistically when Jacquire King begged the mainstream for platinum status that never came.