A tape player winds to a start. Five drum machine hi-hat hits tap out, sequentially. Three notes chime on a glockenspiel. Somebody takes a breath.
These are the most surprising things you’ll hear upon listening to The War on Drugs‘ Wagonwheel Blues ten years after its debut — and they all occur in opening moments of “Arms Like Boulders.” The song abruptly adjusts course into the soaring squeal of a harmonica, fervent acoustic guitar strums, and barreling drums as they converge into an anthem of Kerouacian observations and things felt while driving up California’s arterial highway 101. The lyrics are stream-of-consciousness and pretty far out, but we’ll get to that. For now, let’s consider that non-sequitur patchwork of sounds at the top. It is literally only two seconds long, but it speaks volumes about the band that The War on Drugs was ten years ago and the band it is today. Continue reading →