by Steve Ciccarelli, edited by Erik van Rheenen
It’s hard to not think about The Band when examining the career path of Philadelphia’s Good Old War. Formed from the ashes of another group? Check. First rose to prominence backing a popular solo artist? Another check. Emerged from that artist’s shadow to become a new force all their own? Check is an understatement for that one. The once under-appreciated sidemen to Anthony Green have spent the last few years quietly putting out good records and doing interesting tours, but with Live From The City Of Brotherly Love they have distilled it all down to a bona fide statement: this is who we are, and you’re going to pay attention.
On their first live album, Good Old War interacts with each other less like bandmates and more like brothers. The banter that begins “Looking for Shelter” isn’t that of a “professional band” making a “professional live album,” but more like lifelong friends sitting around a living room surrounded by empty Yuengling bottles and their instruments. It’s like they just sort of decided to play some songs on this evening, but there happened to be a room full of adoring fans singing along. Hearing the audience croon back during songs like “Weak Man” is sort of beautiful, thinking about the scene from which the band emerged. They were doing the folky thing before Mumford & Sons took it to Top 40, but they were playing to pop-punk fans.
The beautifully fingerpicked guitars set the bed for soaring melodies that at once haunt and comfort. “We’re goin’ out tonight so we can clear our worried heads,” begins “Woody’s Hood Boogie Woogie.” It’s a song that speaks to the anxieties of being young and clueless in a way that’s kind of unbelievable in its clarity. But it never sounds as desperate as the lyrics would lead you to believe. “The truth is that we’ll all get burned some day,” a realization that’s most freeing. Sometimes it might take too long to come around to, but here it’s laid out almost as a warning.
Good Old War have released Live From The City Of Brotherly Love. Stream the album below after the jump.
POZ Discussion: Most Anticipated December Releases
December is here, and there are a surprising few great records coming out this cold month that PropertyOfZack team members couldn’t be more stoked to hear. In today’s new Discussion, we’re highlighting our personal Most Anticipated December Releases. Check out our list below and feel free to reblog with what you’re looking forward to as well
Cold Crows Dead - I Fear A New World (12/03)
I’m not sure “anticipation” is the right word for what I feel regarding the debut full length from Cold Crows Dead. I’ve had the album demos for so long, and loved them so much, that they actually landed in my annual Top 10 albums list last year. So I guess what I feel is more like “excitement” — excitement that the duo (multi-instrumentalist/pop-experimentalist Paul Steel and emotive rocker Murray Macleod of Xcerts fame) finally get to unleash their better-than-the-sum-of-its-very-good-parts and long-in-the-making collaboration on the world; excitement that the world finally gets to hear this wildly inventive collection of psych-goth-music hall-pop tunes.
CCD acknowledge the heavy debt their sound owes to Sparklehorse (if you’re unfamiliar with Southern Gothic weirdo Mark Linkous’ project, you’d best get familiar, especially if you’re a fan of albums like Radiohead’s Kid A and Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which followed closely in his stumbling, circuitous footsteps), but its the way the duo melds that instrumental eccentricity with pop formalism that makes Cold Crows Dead special — their songs are stacked full of memorable hooks, hooks that are only made stronger by the playful unpredictability that swirls around them (there’s more than a hint of Brian Wilson to the affair). I don’t know what the world will ultimately think of it all, if anything. But now that you’re in the know, you might as well be ahead of the rest of the world on this one. - Jesse Richman
Transit - Futures & Sutures (12/03)
Few records polarized a fan base quite as divisively as Transit’s Young New England — the only thing more jumbled and erratic than the soundscape the Bostonians captured on record was the album’s rocky reception. But if Futures and Sutures proves anything, it’s that Transit is probably still not done reinventing its sound, and it’s probably for the better that they refuse to shy away from reimagining their own back catalog. “Young New England” gets revamped into a straight-up rocker, “So Long, So Long” gets endowed with some seriously cool vocal effects, and the EP should sway some fans who were left less-than-impressed by Young New England back to the Transit flock. - Erik van Rheenen
The Maine - Imaginary Numbers (12/10)
It’s not unusual for bands to drop an acoustic EP in between full lengths; heck, in a sense, the Maine have done that before (2010’s In Darkness And In Light featured a handful of acoustic reworkings of previous songs.) But The Maine are rarely ones to take the predictable path, and Imaginary Numbers, while acoustic, will feature all originals. The band’s June release, Forever Halloween, found the Phoenix fivesome moving into yet another new stylistic phase, one strongly influenced by Americana and the classic pop songwriting of ’70s rock, more coherent in sound than previous releases (if less even in quality). Will Imaginary Numbers’ compositions push further in that direction, or swerve once again? With the Maine, you can never be quite sure where the path will lead, but you can pretty well trust that your journey will be a pleasant one. - Jesse Richman