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Wednesday, October 11, 2006
  Cold War Kids' new LP and old EPs: compare, contrast, love
as a proficient, relevant blogger it is my duty to not only tell you about what's going on everywhere else - what everyone else might be raving about - but also with what i happen to currently be obsessed. why is this important? because it's delightfully cathartic for me and allows me to really embrace my self-absorbed tendencies. i mean, to be honest. also, however, it reveals to you the kind of human i am, where i'm coming from, the kind of thing that - with this positively breakneck speed of acquiring independent music - really grabs me, and stays. those things that are not ephemeral. (ah, fragment!)

COLD WAR KIDS. this band has been circling through my ipod and ears and brain and body and my paintings, for pete's sake (poor pete). i eat and breathe their songs, sit for good chunks of time delaying real work and pondering over each individual click and noise. thankfully the band has recently (technically yesterday) given me an excuse to do this - to go over those songs i already know so well - by releasing their debut LP. after three EPs, they were ready. ready with the same exact songs. rerecorded and polished. "respectably" produced.

here, now, as the fruits of my relentless listening and paying attention and obsessing and loving - here are three "single-worthy" songs (alright, a few bonus too) that i compare, EP to LP, Up In Rags to Robbers and Cowards. (ah! longest intro to the purpose of a post ever)

::::EP:CWK - Hospital Beds
"Hospital Beds" was my introduction to the band. it was, like most truly great songs, not an instantly impressive experience; i was wary of the style: "there's nothing to do here, so i'll just whine and complain, in bed at the hospital." i could go on for hours about their narrative lyrics (which, if you know literature, is technically oxymoronic - hence why it's so different and refreshing), but the special thing about the story in this song is that it reminds me so well of those really incredible war novels like Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried and of course Heller's Catch 22. there is an ironic and insane quality to the words, a trapped desperation that those novels and consequently these lyrics convey in a darkly humorous manner. i realize there isn't much to be said for direct humor in CWK's words, but there is if you follow that same vein of bizzare... almost Vonnegut humor. remember that i fell in love with this track on the EP. i feel like the rawness compliments what i'm talking about. there is not, however, much of a difference on the LP - it's just a little cleaner, with tighter and louder drums. the voice is remarkably similar. sometimes a little more melodic than on the EP ("put out the fire on us"). piano is still highlighted just as much as it should be. considering this is a favorite, i have little to complain about - in fact, the new track sounds better on headphones, to tell you the truth.
::::LP:CWK - Hospital Beds

::::EP:CWK - We Used To Vacation
i don't have quite as much to drone on about with this track, because i have a confession to make: i like the LP version better. everything i had to complain about in the original is fixed. what did i have to complain about? the voice, mostly - it felt at times as if he weren't sure of himself, questioning the listener: do you understand what i'm singing? i know it's not the truth, they're so completely passionate about their music, but it frustrated me nonetheless to hear such a great song be somewhat ruined by the sloping upwards of each line, the turning-up of the words to create a tense, insecure tone. the LP works more with the emotion that they give live (opinion!) and brings it to light here, finishing the end of each line, asserting their lyrics, drawing out the potential to a song that i've listened to about forty-five times in the last week. or something. they speed it up as well, throughout the entire song but especially come the "chorus" (whatever).
::::LP:CWK - We Used To Vacation

::::EP:CWK - Saint John
i will spare you my raving about the literal poetic quality of these lyrics - sort of. it's an honest poem! listen! half of the amazing thing about this song is the singing and the execution of the words going with the storyline. the tone, the accent, the slip and slide of the lips, the constantly changing speed, the "messy," skippy drums, the calling voices, the clanking, the bass line (love that), rattling (tambourine), the stop and the go, the blues... it's all to compliment the narrative. have you listened? did you hear the story? do you know why he's on death row? listen to this shit, yo. it gave me chills the first time it dawned on me. this is actually where the two different versions separate. on the EP, they keep so much more of the flair that i described above - using the music and the speed and the vocals to express the idea in the lyrics. it's an audible piece of art. the LP version, however, is infinitely cleaner and it's easier (in some places, now it's possible) to hear what he's actually saying and get the story. in this way, they're almost like two different altogether, not to be considered under the same title, one a newer version than the other. no. they are bot necessary to really get the brilliance of "Saint John."
::::LP:CWK - Saint John

now, because i made you go through all of that, you can have the two bonus tracks. they're new songs, not found on any of the EPs, and they're both amazing. i hope it's a sign of their next record (because, come on, they need actual new stuff soon).
::::BONUS:CWK - Passing The Hat
BONUS x2: CWK - God, Make Up Your Mind

go to the hype machine and you will find an everlasting supply of Cold War Kids love.

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