Cold War Kids have been one of my favorite new bands of recent days. I first heard of them from wanchanken in a comment he made on the blog here. He said, “What about some info on Cold War Kids?” I responded “Yeah, that’s a good idea,” and then I went to Google and tried to figure out who the Cold War Kids were.
Despite the fact that I have a lot of bands here, and I have even more in my library that haven’t made it up yet, people are always coming up to me and introducing new and amazing bands I’ve never heard of. And they talk about them in a way that sounds like I ought to have heard of them.
Cold War Kids is one of those groups that I really should have known about sooner. But once I did find them, I quickly grew to love their bluesy soul-rock sound.
The Cold War Kids are Nathan Willett (lead vocals, piano, guitar), Jonnie Russell (guitar, vocals, percussion), Matt Maust (bass guitar), and Matt Aveiro (drums). Their sound is a great combination of blues, rock, and soul, with every song oozing with emotion and energy. You feel every ache, every pain, every unanswered question in the lyrics. And it’s not in a cheesy way, either. It’s like a cry from your gut.
The piano, drums, guitar, bass, and vocals all come together in a beautiful blend of soulful cries. Seriously, there are bands that can play fine together, and then there are bands who seem like they were meant to play music together. Cold War Kids are tight, and every bit of their music, from vocals to the beat to the melody, every part is going in the same direction together. Very skillfully crafted songs. Just listen to all the layers in the samples I’ve put up. Yeah, layers, like ogres, onions, and parfaits.
The Kids started in 2004 in Jonnie’s apartment in Fullerton, California, and they’ve seen a whole load of controversy ever since. And what’s the controversy about? Secret mafia connections? Under-the-table drug deals? Family ties to rebel groups in Colombia? Nope. They might be Christians. Scary, I know.
Just take a moment and think about the horror of it.
No, seriously, take a moment.
OK, good, now we can move on.
Yeah, so, story is the three of the guys went to the Bible Institute of Los Angeles for college, so they might be Christians. Are they? I don’t know. I think they probably are, but I really don’t know. Either way, it’s ridiculous the amount of controversy surrounding that fact. Pitchfork reviews pretty much slam them for having any semblance of a belief in God (see here for the slam plus some interesting thoughts on the religious symbolism of the songs).
Seeing this anti-Christian attitude by Pitchforkians, San Diego CityBeat wrote an article basically challenging reviewers to view the Cold War Kids (and other Christian musicians) in light of their art and not their beliefs (see here). Get past the anti-God snobbishness and judge the music itself.
Then Pastor Matt Johnson at Doxologist wrote an article here in which he questions why the Kids are so hush-hush about their beliefs. He writes, “I can’t help but think that being dodgy about faith in music smacks of a cultural-inferiority complex.” I don’t know if I agree with him or not, but controversy is fun to follow, isn’t it?
They’ve managed to get everyone from indi-rockers to journalists to pastors all riled up and discussing their relationships with God. I don’t know where they stand with Him, but I love reading about controversy.
Anyway, be sure to check out their website. You can download some really rad acoustic songs as well as some cool older stuff. Just click here. While you’re at it, read a cool review / interview at Daytrotter here and download the free Daytrotter Sessions here.
Here are two of my favorite, less-played songs by the Cold War Kids, off their first full length album Robbers and Cowards:
Note: All MP3s will be removed after one week