Indie rockers The War On Drugs and Mark McGuire are an intoxicating mix of rock, drone and Americana
Albums of the week
Indie Rock LOST IN THE DREAM The War On Drugs Secretly Canadian
Acoustic/Ambient ALONG THE WAY Mark McGuire Dead Oceans
Cynical hipsters brand it dad rock, a brand of 1980s classic rock exemplified by acts such as Survivor, AC/DC, Bruce Hornsby, Dire Straits, Mike and the Mechanics, not forgetting all things Phil Collins.
These musicians have straggly, big hair (or sadly receding hairlines), wear bleached denim jackets and shuffle sideways onstage.
Then again, you shouldn't trust cynical hipsters. If only they probe beneath the surface, like this week's artists of the week, Adam Granduciel and Mark McGuire.
Granduciel, 34, mastermind behind Philadelphia indie- rockers The War On Drugs, and McGuire, 28, guitarist of Cleveland electro-ambient rockers Emeralds, have come out with deeply personal takes on classic rock. They wade into it, then resurface, anew.
Working out his depression and paranoia, Granduciel has produced one of the year's emotionally and musically open records, Lost In The Dream. It helps that the man sounds like late-era Bob Dylan, the wheezy, slivermoustached godfather of soul-rock.
The music is cathartic without being too overt. In Disappearing, one of a handful of songs here clocking in at around six minutes, he re-enacts the state of loss rather than singing about it.
Ringing guitars fall like an afterglow as Granduciel emits a thin, vulnerable purr that floats like a satellite in the universe of loneliness.
The effect is simultaneously lo-fi and tactile.
A song such as Suffering trudges at the start like another one of Mark Knopfler's blue-collar dirges, but soon blooms into a guitar-drone mind-freak as piano tinkles and electric riffs are processed. You float along, not exactly comprehending what's going on, but it's okay.
The nine-minute opener, Under The Pressure, swirls and dips like My Funny Valentine gone Springsteen, as the singer repeats the title, chugging against such tension.
Compared to Granduciel, McGuire doesn't sing very much. Even when he does, the vocals are woven into a sonic meditation on what he deems as "an odyssey through the vast, unknown regions of the mind". It may sound a little cuckoo for sane folks, but then sane folks are usually afraid of taking chances.