Los Feliz BLVD by Cold War Kids

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EP’s, or Extended Plays, are typically a way for an artist or band to get out music quickly and a more within budget option for groups not wanting to sink a ton of money in without returns first. In these modern days of streaming and infinite content, EP’s are a refined art. In some cases, the theme an artist wants to convey doesn’t require ten plus songs, but can be eloquently put in a handful of special songs. Some artists see the EP as a means to expand on albums like the bonus features on a DVD. This month, the first month of 2019, and the one year anniversary of New Vinyl Mondays, I have chosen a sampling of artists never featured on this blog; a range of sounds sure to please most ears.

Deserving of the title, “Indie Darlings”, Cold War Kids never broke into commercial success like others around them. No song of theirs has ever graced the Billboard 100, nor have any of their albums gone platinum. Their song “First” from 2015 hit number one on US Alternative Songs, but no other song before or since then has hit as high.

Beginning in the LA area, Cold War Kids started with Nathan Willett as lead vocals, Matt Maust on bass, and former members Jonni Russell and Matt Aveiro on guitar and drums, respectively. Joe Plummer has since replaced Aveiro on drums, as well as new multi-instrumentalists Matthew Schwartz and David Quon.

The album associated with this EP is LA Divine. I had become very close to this album at the end of 2017 and further into 2018. In my opinion, this was a cohesive “hit after hit” collection of music worthy of praise. It was commercially successful; however, it was not critically received well. Most reviews were mixed or poor, most putting it at around 5/10. This blunder did not stop them, releasing an Extended Play with acoustic versions of three songs as well as an exclusive song.

The only song this has on LA Divine is “Love On the Brain” which features Bishop Briggs, akin to the lead single that is also on here, “So Tied Up”. “Love On the Brain” is the common folk-influenced, indie love song that revolves around a relationship where two parters struggle while together but can’t stand being apart. They create a metaphor of the love the two have, comparing it to a drug, and a commodity to own and possess. The vocals are passionate, in a way, similar to “Where the Skies Are Blue” off of the C side of Cleopatra by the Lumineers. This song transcends labels and brakes into a special category with other love songs.

The other acoustic versions on this EP are respectable, and I appreciate them being included in the discography of this band. Something a younger me didn’t understand is that artists are creative, and make more than what we hear on the radio. I used to hate when artists made creative decisions as to what and how they played their live shows. I have come to understand and appreciate the creative process.

With its transparent green vinyl, there is not doubt this will stand out in any collection. This EP was one of the first pieces of vinyl I had purchased for New Vinyl Mondays, back last January, which is why I felt it appropriate to bring it around during this time. I personally find the cover childish; it’s not one of my favorites. It’s colorful, but looks as though it was chopped together in PicsArt.

All in all, if you were not a fan of LA Divine, you most likely won’t like this either. There’s no edge, like there was in their older albums released. However, if you are looking for something new, this EP might have the different perspective you’re searching for.

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