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Cold War Kids

Cold War Kids turn their wide-ranging influences -- Tom Waits, Billie Holiday, Nick Cave, and U2 -- into polished, passionate rock. The group's shifting lineup reflected their evolving sound over the years, from the stomping blues-punk of 2006's debut Robbers & Cowards to the slick alt-rock of 2011's Mine Is Yours. Cold War Kids grew more anthemic, and more popular, as time went on: 2017's L.A. Divine, which celebrated the mythos of their adopted hometown as well as the power of sweeping rock, made the Top Ten of Billboard's Top Rock Albums chart. Cold War Kids balanced stylistic risks and rock-solid hooks as they entered the 2020s, exploring funk, disco, and dance rock on the New Age Norms trilogy and revisiting their way with a soaring chorus on 2023's Cold War Kids. Years before the band formed, bassist Matt Maust thought of the name Cold War Kids while on an Eastern European trip in 1997. Maust and the group's other founding members -- vocalist/guitarist/pianist Nathan Willett, drummer Matt Aveiro, and guitarist Jonnie Russell -- met at Biola University and began crafting their soulful, blues-inflected take on indie rock as Cold War Kids in 2004. They worked on songs in Russell's Fullerton, California apartment, which was above a restaurant named Mulberry Street; in 2005, they named their debut EP for Monarchy Music for the eatery. On the strength of their subsequent EPs With Our Wallets Full and Up in Rags, and their impassioned live performances, Cold War Kids signed to Downtown Records in 2006. That October, the label released the band's acclaimed debut, Robbers & Cowards. Featuring production by Kevin Augunas, the album won critical praise for its brooding, arty blues-rock and reached 173 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart in the U.S.; in the U.K., it peaked at 35 and also charted in Australia, France, and the Netherlands among other countries. The single "Hang Me Up to Dry" was certified gold in the States, and the band released the We Used to Vacation EP in November 2006. After spending two years on the road, Cold War Kids relocated to Long Beach, California, and reunited with Augunas for their introspective second effort, September 2008's Loyalty to Loyalty. Inspired in part by the work of philosopher Josiah Royce, the album's polished sound and searching songwriting propelled the album to number 21 on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart, it was also a Top 20 hit in Australia. While touring in support of the album, they found time to record the following year's Behave Yourself EP, a set of songs that emphasized their soulful ballads. Peaking at 177 on the 200 Albums chart in the U.S., the EP spawned the Canadian Top 40 hit single "Audience." Early in 2010, Cold War Kids went into the studios in Nashville and Hollywood with Grammy-winning producer Jacquire King (Tom Waits, Kings of Leon) to record their polished third album, January 2011's Mine Is Yours. A brighter and more personal-sounding effort than any of the band's previous work, it also peaked at 21 on the U.S. charts and reached number nine in Australia. The album's single "Louder Than Ever" hit number 31 on Billboard's Alternative Songs chart. Late in 2012, Russell departed Cold War Kids. Former Modest Mouse and Murder City Devils guitarist Dann Gallucci joined the band for April 2013's Dear Miss Lonelyhearts, which he co-produced with Lars Stalfors. Recorded in the band's home studio, the album fused Cold War Kids' gritty roots with electronic touches inspired by Depeche Mode and New Order; it peaked at 51 in the U.S. and at 48 in Australia, while the single "Miracle Mile" cracked the Canadian Top 40. That September, the digital-only Tuxedos EP arrived. At the end of the year, Aveiro left the group and was replaced by Modest Mouse drummer Joe Plummer. Though Maust and Willett worked on their side project French Style Furs -- whose debut, Is Exotic Bait, arrived in 2014 -- Cold War Kids also returned that year with October's Hold My Home. Recorded at the band's personal studio and once again produced by Gallucci and Stalfors, the album was their first to feature multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Matthew Schwartz as a full member of the group. Hold My Home reached 56 in the U.S. and 61 in Australia. It also included "First," which became the band's highest-charting single when it topped the Billboard Alternative Songs chart in 2015. The single was ultimately certified platinum in the U.S. and gold in Canada and Australia. Following April 2015's Five Quick Cuts EP, Gallucci left Cold War Kids in 2016 and was replaced by We Barbarians' David Quon. That year, Cold War Kids issued the anti-Donald Trump single "Locker Room Talk" as part of the "30 Days, 50 Songs" project. The following year, Cold War Kids moved to Capitol for their sixth studio album, April 2017's Stalfors- produced L.A. Divine. Inspired by their adopted hometown of Los Angeles, the LP peaked at number ten on the Billboard Top Rock Albums chart. "So Tied Up," a collaboration with Bishop Briggs, appeared on the Billboard Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart. Cold War Kids followed the album with several EPs of remixes and a live album, Audience: Live September 24, 2017, Athens, GA. This Will All Blow Over in Time, a collection of the group's Downtown Records output, appeared in 2018. In 2019, Cold War Kids kicked off a trilogy of mini-albums with October's New Age Norms, Vol. 1, which folded hints of pop, funk, and disco, as well as more topical songwriting, into their sound. That January, they released Strings & Keys, a set of acoustic versions of some of New Age Norms, Vol. 1's songs. The band opted for a more danceable approach on August 2020's New Age Norms, Vol. 2, before capping things off with September 2021's New Age Norms, Vol. 3 and its funk-punk single "What You Say." A collaborative version of "What You Say" featuring Zella Day appeared in early 2022. After a mid-2023 tour with Tears for Fears, Cold War Kids issued their tenth, self-titled album that November. Preceded by the Pretenders-inspired "Double Life" and the Canadian Top 20 single "Run Away with Me," Cold War Kids leaned into the band's soulful rock foundations while exploring parenthood, sexism and self-acceptance.
© Heather Phares /TiVo


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