Did you hear them on 'Entourage' last night?
I saw Cold War Kids on Thursday at the Henry Fonda Theater and took delivery of their new album 'Loyalty to Lovalty' today after watching the 'Entourage' series premiere's credits roll to the sound of the band's Stones'-influenced foot-stomper 'Something Is Not Right With Me.'
Which like most HBO shows tells its own tale: That interest is huge right now in the Long Beach band and they're pretty near to banging on the door of the national and international music stage. Maybe Jeremy Piven could help out.
The Cold War Kids didn't need much help that night and 'Something Is Not Right With Me' elicited the loudest roar of the gig and much fist pumping among the largely college crowd that packed out the Hollywood venue. Cal State Long Beach in the house? How about UCLA?
Sound was good as ever at the Fonda and singer Nathan Willett's magnificent range sounded great on 'Something' and 'Hang Me Out to Dry,' the other catchy yet banging tune from the first album 'Robbers and Cowards' that most everyone who listens to the radio will know. A couple days earlier the band played an open-air gig in Hollywood for Jimmy Kimmel's show.
New tracks 'Welcome to the Occupation' and 'Mexican Dogs' came pretty high up, the first a ballsy riff on living in the Latin quarter that includes the line “Coca Cola costs a quarter on my block,” the second about the lack of imagination in education and the revolving door into a similarly bleak corporate or government job.
'Every Man I Fall For' slowed up the set midway through, a tender bluesy tale of love and regret and the perils of dating violent or uncaring men while 'Robbers' from the first album lent a Nietzchean tone of bleakness and ennui. Writing is good throughout: “Devil's in the details/ Devil's in the details/ He's got your gold watch / And chain.” Other track that may be familiar is 'We Used To Vacation,' which wistfully relates the story of an alcoholic and the broken family life life his actions have caused.
Later Willett opened up with 'Relief' and the band encored with “Against Privacy,” a riff on the press's fascination with stars and the new album's opener, and 'Hospital Beds' from 'Robbers and Cowards.' Set was enthusiastic with Matt Maust, Jonnie Russell and Matt Aveiro animated on bass, guitar and drums respectively. Willett's also plays piano on a number of tracks.
New tracks were largely more subdued than the band's 2006 full-length debut, less jangly somehow, more maturely structured and a little less whimsical. Many more of the tracks play out situations of poverty of ideas or discomfiture in everyday situations, taking traditional blues themes and reinventing them for a new generation. Influences stretch from Billie Holiday to the Velvet Underground.
Greatest danger I think for Cold War Kids is that those gosh-darned ever-mischievous record company execs don't seek to grab the square-jowelled Willett and his exceptional and accessible voice and try to turn him into the next chiseled teen idol that's topping the download chart right now.
'Cause that would be a real shame. An almost Nietzschean tragedy. Let's keep them on 'Entourage.'