THE WAR ON DRUGS, WHITE LACES
What makes the War on Drugs a great band is not their ability to channel the pantheon of classic rock, but instead how they strive to improve upon the music of their forebears, and write songs that are longer, weirder, and unencumbered by now-outdated production values. Songwriter Adam Granduciel is particularly enamored of the heartland musicians who make misery sound electrifying, and unsurprisingly, Bruce Springsteen casts the largest shadow on the band's recordings. (Although you can also find traces of Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, and the Waterboys in the War on Drugs' music.) Springsteen contains multitudes, and Granduciel homes in on the Born in the U.S.A. era, when the Boss was at his righteous peak with a fist raised high in the air.
The newest album from the War on Drugs, Lost in the Dream, is bruised and bleary-eyed. Its songs are spacious and recursive, like a midnight drive on an eternal stretch of highway, with red taillights, white headlights, and blue rest-area signs bleeding into the darkened landscape. Granduciel sings about the desperate characters from a Springsteen song who finally escape their depressed small town, only to find they are destined to roam forever. Lyrics from the opening song, "Under the Pressure," set the tone: "When it all breaks down and we're runaways/Standing in the wake of our pain/And we stare straight into nothing/But we call it all the same." Granduciel has said that Lost in the Dream is "more natural, a little more from the heart and less about soundscapes" compared to his previous work. With this latest collection of songs, Granduciel has simplified and stretched out his approach, making his most personal and original album yet.
You should come early to check out White Laces, a dreamy and unkempt indie-pop band from Richmond, Virginia. I bring up their base of operations because they remind me of some other bands from the Old Dominion State. White Laces' steady backbeat and gangly post-punk flourishes bring to mind fellow Virginians Wild Nothing and the criminally underappreciated Dynamic Truths, but White Laces also have a few surprises, like the occasional searing saxophone solo. Neptune Theatre, 9 pm, $18 adv/$20 DOS.