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The War On Drugs create a glorious kind of noise, the beauty of which lies in the way the Philadelphia band embroils two distinguishing aural characteristics into its highly conceptualized makeup. On record, it's the craftsmanship of a production obsessive that's most apparent. It is known Adam Granduciel spent a number years laboring over the sound design of his stunning, most recent album, Slave Ambient. Hypnotic turns of air and atmosphere lay at the foundation of his recording, the result of compounded layers of guitar, creating an album long ambience that hums along like highflying airplanes.

In performance, however, it's the more classic elements of the band's music that takes center stage; don't be surprised if comparisons to names like Dylan, Petty, and Springsteen come to mind in the last of our video features from MOG Music's SXSW Day Party at the Mohawk. This is a road tested performance, powered by a driving, rhythmic pulse and impressive, amp busting riffage; qualities that while obviously evident on Slave Ambient, don't truly get unshackled until these Philly boys bring it for an enthusiastic gathering such as the one before them on this sizzling, Austin afternoon.

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Philedelphia's The War on Drugs reside at the blurred edges of American music: overexposing studio limitations, piling tape upon tape to maximum density, and then -- with each song -- they pull off the scaffolding to reveal what sticks, keeping only what's absolutely necessary and dig into what sounds like the best kind of fucked up. As on their 2008 debut, Wagonwheel Blues, central member Adam Granduciel takes small moments occurring over multiple tapes and multiple song versions, and puts every last drop of trust in his own keen instinct of momentum.

That's not to overshadow the sharp, personal songwriting at play here. There are certainly cues taken from our very best American bards (Dylan, Petty, Springsteen). Yet, The War on Drugs are wise enough to also implode those cues or send themselves into outer space when the moment calls for it. The driving organ riff that pushes "Baby Missiles," from the band's 2010 epic EP Future Weather, may well be inspired by a fever dream of Springsteen rather than any particular song in his catalogue. And the endless layers of guitar melody and atmospherics of "Comin' Through," also from Future Weather, rather than add weither to the vessell, only work to fill its sails with warmer and warmer winds.

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The War On Drugs

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