You Should Know: The War on Drugs

Band Name – The War on Drugs

For People Who Like – My Bloody Valentine, Bruce Springsteen, Blonde On Blonde-era Bob Dylan

Recommended Listen – Slave Ambient

Interesting Fact – Kurt Vile was one of its founding members, playing guitar until 2008.  This band is also signed to Secret Canadian label, which is located out of Bloomington!

If Jack Kerouac were still alive, he would of loved The War on Drugs.  This is American road music for the 21st century hippie – trippy guitars with a steady beat with tales that have an American overtone.  If the band took away all its psychedelics, they would sound like The Band or Bruce Springsteen, but the acid guitars and the layers of sound works for the band.  So the next time you and your cool indie friends road trip cross-country, The War on Drugs should be on your playlist.

Their latest album, last year’s Slave Ambient, was a huge success, so expect more to come from these guys.  Here’s my favorite track off that album.

You Should Know: Lana Del Rey

Real Name – Elizabeth “Lizzy” Grant

For People Who Like – The National, The Velvet Underground when they had Nico, mysterious sexy women who like to play video games.

Recommended Listen – Video Games EP

Interesting Fact – Her stage name is a combination of the old Hollywood actress Lana Turner and the Ford Del Rey car.

It’s not even 2012 yet, but I think I already know who we’ll be talking about for most of next year.  Her name is Elizabeth Grant aka Lana Del Rey, and she’s made a name for herself in the indie world with her single “Video Games”.  Del Rey, a self-described “gangsta Nancy Sinatra”, has the kind of look and power in her voice to demand your full attention.  When I think of the Velvet Underground song “Female Fatale”, I’m convinced Lou Reed was singing about this girl – she’s mysterious and beautiful, but she could probably kick your ass and tear out your heart.

Below is the music video for the song “Video Games”, one of my favorite songs from 2011.  She plans to release a new album in late January titled Born to Die, and you can check out the first single here.  If Born to Die is as good as I think It’ll be from its first single, then we should be hearing a lot about Del Rey in 2012.

You Should Know: Delta Spirit

Band Name- Delta Spirit

Location- Long Beach, California

Years Active- 2005-present

For People Who Like- My Morning Jacket, Dawes, The Avett Brothers, Simple Americana-music with great lyrics.

Recommended Listen – Ode To Sunshine

What do you get if My Morning Jacket wasn’t so weird and listened to more of The Band?  You get Delta Spirit.  This California five-piece band is from the west coast, but they sound like they’re from America’s heartland.  The songs sound like they could have been written decades ago, but the band’s creative blend of tradition songwriting and indie attitude makes the songs sound fresh and new.  What really stands out with this band are the lyrics.  All the songs have good stories and really make you think, something that is missing from a lot of popular songs these days.

With good storytelling and great energy, these guys strike me as a modern day incarnation of The Band (they even have a drummer that sings!).  My current favorite song of theirs is The Waits Room EP version of “The Devil Knows You’re Dead”, but there wasn’t a video of it on youtube 🙁 However, check out “Streetwalker” below, from their fantastic 2008 album Ode To Sunshine.

You Should Know: Free Energy

Band Name – Free Energy

Location – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Years Active – Since 2008

For People Who Like – Cheap Trick, The Hold Steady, positive Rock N Roll

Recommended Listen – Stuck On Nothing

If anyone questions whether Rock N Roll is dead or not, listen to this band and you’ll know it’s alive and well.  This Philadelphia band has a classic sound reminding me of classic 70s guitar rock, but it doesn’t sound old.  This band has loud guitars and positive energy, and in a time when most rock bands follow the moody indie sound this is refreshing to hear.

You Should Know: Wild Sweet Orange

Band Name – Wild Sweet Orange

Location – Homewood, Alabama

Years Active – 2004/2010

For People Who Like – The Decemberist, Death Cab For Cutie, The National, Modest Mouse

Recommended Listen – The Whale EP

I saw this band open up for John Mayer in 2006 and I was very impressed by this band.  These guys from Alabama were stellar live and their studio work is just as good.  Preston Lovinggood, in addition to having an awesome last name, is a unique singer, being both melodic and clear.  The sound of the band is very big – it’s very cool to hear how much sound five guys can make together.  It’s a shame these guys only made one album, We Have Cause To Be Uneasy, and broke up right after its release.  Check out the acoustic version of “Tilt” below.

You Should Know: Pale

I’m starting a new series called “You Should Know.”  It’s a look at bands and artist that are really great but might not be household names (not yet at least!).  Pale, a Houston band that’s been around since the early 2000s, has a really great sound with distinct vocals and rocking songs.  Below is a live video of their song “Sinking Feeling” and you can click here to go to the band’s website for more songs and information on the band.