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Slave Ambient CD

4.5 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (22 Aug. 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Secretly Canadian
  • ASIN: B0056ANHRW
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,540 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
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Product Description

CD Description

On their debut, the life-affirming Wagonwheel Blues, and the follow-up EP, Future Weather, Philly s The War on Drugs seemed obsessed with disparate ideas, with building uncompromised rock monuments from pieces that may have seemed like odd pairs. Folk-rock marathons come damaged by drum machines. Electronic and instrumental reprises precede songs they ve yet to play, and Dr. Seuss becomes lyrical motivation for bold futuristic visions. Now, Granduciel has done it again, better than before: Slave Ambient is their proper second album anda brilliant 47-minute sprawl of rock n roll, conceptualized with a sense of adventure and captured with seasons of bravado.

BBC Review

Musicians with an identity crisis can produce astonishing, innovative works of majesty just as easily as they can cacophonous, impotent drivel. For every prime-time Prince, fearlessly smashing genres together to effortlessly create new sounds, there are thousands of lesser mortals convinced that their country-meets-drill'n'bass hybrid is the future of music.

The War on Drugs - perhaps more precisely their frontman and chief songwriter, Adam Granduciel - appear to be in the grip of some stylistic confusion on second album Slave Ambient. But it's testament to the man's songwriting smarts that the overall results are as impressive as those on this Philadelphia band's debut, 2008's excellent Wagonwheel Blues.

In a bold and brave move, this album begins with a bang, Best Night immediately satisfying. No pre-amble, no fade in; just high-tempo krautrock. There are beats, there is feedback; its droning waves of sound come across like Neu! or Spirtualized at their best, or even Primal Scream at their least commercial. An immaculately-produced country rock number channeling Tom Petty seems an unlikely bedfellow, but Brothers is next up. Granduciel sings about the fire in his heart, and while he was hardly raised on the prairie, he sounds splendidly authentic.

I Was There is similar both thematically and sonically. There is harmonica, a muffled Springsteen-aping vocal and a simple piano melody; but despite these elements it's impossible not to think of Automatic for the People-era REM (a good thing, clearly). Comfort never last for long on Slave Ambient, though. The Animator, essentially an homage to Spacemen 3's Ecstasy Symphony, turns into Come to the City. The lyrics may claim that our protagonist is "just drifting," but the song thumps like a great Chemical Brothers collaboration.

And there are further great tunes to be found. Your Love Is Calling My Name is a driving, synth-y number that recalls Arcade Fire's Keep the Car Running, while pre-release download Baby Missiles sounds like Dire Straits' Walk of Life rebooted for the 2011 post-everything crowd. It is celebratory and magnificent.

Slave Ambient as a whole may be more confused than your average reality show star at a Mensa meeting, but it's full of decent songs with a lot of heart. Give it a listen before the global economy truly collapses and you have to sell your stereo.

--Lou Thomas

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By Red on Black TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 19 Aug. 2011
Format: MP3 Download
There is a saying "that a beast with two heads is a monster". In the case of the scintillating Philadelphia rock outfit the "War on Drugs" (WOD) the two heads in questions are Kurt Vile and Adam Granduciel who have determined to plough separate furrows but retain a very tight musical bond (Vile plays on a couple of tracks here) . Many of you will have already noted that Vile has recently produced a very fine record in the form of "Smoke rings for my halo" sardine packed with that type of roaring classic rock that made fortunes for Tom Petty, Bob Seger and John Fogerty. Thankfully Adam Granduciel has decided not to sit around twiddling his thumbs and set himself the task of matching his musical sparring partner. On the evidence of this new album "Slave Ambient" he has secured a very large points victory in terms of twelve musical rounds although not a complete knock out. This album takes a number of songs from the earlier Future Weather EP and reworks them but more importantly Granduciel follows Vile in cherry picking from American classic rock heritage not least Springteen, Dylan, Jerry Garcia, Gene Clark and Lou Reed but manages also to slip in a dash of My Bloody Valentine here, a small helping of the Cure and Echo and the Bunnymen there and top it all with a nod to Arcade Fire. In less careful hands it could be a right old mess, but Adam Granduciel is no mere copyist and as a brilliant songwriter with smart tunes to spare he strategically locks down the whole kit and kaboodle with "Slave Ambient" being one of the most enjoyable releases of 2011.

Interestingly "Slave Ambient" is also one of those records that just hits you from the first listen and it makes complete sense.
Read more ›
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So y' know how it goes, Amazon sends you Recommendeds; some you ditch without a second thought, then others pique your curiosity, at this stage I always read the reviews which I value far and above any clutch of professionals. Now the idea of the influences of Dylan and Tom Petty always draw me in, but deeper reading of reviews and sample sounds made me feel this was worth a purchase. Good call Me!!
Yes the influence of these two legends is there in the drawl of the singer and some of the wistfulness of the lyrics, but to be fair to War on Drugs there is an element that separates them and this is the almost orchestral effect they create in an Atmosphere of Sound which reminds me as nothing so less as waves crashing made all the more so by a fast rhythmic pace which is as clear and refreshing as it is relentless.
I am quite sold on this and even at this stage am wondering if this is going to be one of my albums of the year.
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Format: Audio CD
Brilliant, intelligent modern rock. Track after track of pure gold. The Dylan and Tom Petty influences are clear but the whole deal is sublimely varied with punk, groove and dreamy synth elements.
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A real grower this one I bought it on the strength of hearing Come to the City which is the stand out track. The album has a trippy laid back vibe with hints of Tom Petty and Arcade Fire, but there's more to it than that....
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This album is my favourite musical discovery of the last few years. I have never heard anyone quite like them; they seem to pull together influences from different eras to create something totally new. Exhilarating, melancholy, reflective and full of wonder.
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Format: Audio CD
Wagonwheel Blues was very good, Slave Ambient is almost perfect. Adam Granduciel's influences are many and various - Dylan, Springsteen, My Bloody Valentine, Arcade Fire, REM and others - yet the songs he's written are all fresh and stamped with the unique sound that is the War on Drugs.

It's not a competition, obviously, but given that Granduciel and Kurt Vile were both in the band when Wagonwheel Blues came out, and that this new War on Drugs album (without Vile in the band) pretty much coincides with the release of Vile's solo album, Smoke Ring For My Halo, comparisons are inevitable. For me, Slave Ambient is streets ahead.

The first time I heard it, I was so knocked out by the beauty of Black Water Falls, that I thought the rest of the album was a bit lacking in comparison. I was completely wrong. Every track is as strong as that one, from the driving Best Night to the gorgeous ambient The Animator. It's all good. Chugging but inventive, never getting stuck in a single groove, and with Granduciel's sand-and-glue voice swooping over the jangly guitars and keyboard drone.

Since the initial Black Water Falls thing, just about every song has been a favourite for a while - I Was There, being the current one. Slave Ambient is just wonderful!
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By Red on Black TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 22 Aug. 2011
Format: Audio CD
There is a saying "that a beast with two heads is a monster". In the case of the scintillating Philadelphia rock outfit the "War on Drugs" (WOD) the two heads in questions are Kurt Vile and Adam Granduciel who have determined to plough separate furrows but retain a very tight musical bond (Vile plays on a couple of tracks here) . Many of you will have already noted that Vile has recently produced a very fine record in the form of "Smoke rings for my halo" sardine packed with that type of roaring classic rock that made fortunes for Tom Petty, Bob Seger and John Fogerty. Thankfully Adam Granduciel has decided not to sit around twiddling his thumbs and set himself the task of matching his musical sparring partner. On the evidence of this new album "Slave Ambient" he has secured a very large points victory in terms of twelve musical rounds although not a complete knock out. This album takes a number of songs from the earlier Future Weather EP and reworks them but more importantly Granduciel follows Vile in cherry picking from American classic rock heritage not least Springteen, Dylan, Jerry Garcia, Gene Clark and Lou Reed but manages also to slip in a dash of My Bloody Valentine here, a small helping of the Cure and Echo and the Bunnymen there and top it all with a nod to Arcade Fire. In less careful hands it could be a right old mess, but Adam Granduciel is no mere copyist and as a brilliant songwriter with smart tunes to spare he strategically locks down the whole kit and kaboodle with "Slave Ambient" being one of the most enjoyable releases of 2011.

Interestingly "Slave Ambient" is also one of those records that just hits you from the first listen and it makes complete sense.
Read more ›
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