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Video for "Brothers" from The War on Drugs' Secretly Canadian release Slave Ambient. For more info on The War on Drugs visit:

Retrieved from Wikipedia:
Brothers on Wikipedia
Slave Ambient
Studio album by The War on Drugs
ReleasedAugust 16, 2011
GenreIndie rock, indie folk, neo-psychedelia, shoegazing[2][3][4]
LabelSecretly Canadian
ProducerJeff Zeigler, Adam Granduciel
The War on Drugs chronology
Singles from Slave Ambient
  1. "Baby Missiles"
    Released: September 12, 2011
  2. "Come to the City"
    Released: December 5, 2011
  3. "Best Night"
    Released: March 12, 2012

Slave Ambient is the second studio album by American indie rock band The War on Drugs, released on August 16, 2011, on Secretly Canadian. Recorded over three years, Slave Ambient is the final release to feature contributions from founding guitarist Kurt Vile and drummer Mike Zanghi, and the first to feature drummer Steven Urgo.[5][6]

The album was preceded by the EP, Future Weather, in 2010.


  • 1 Background and recording
  • 2 Artwork
  • 3 Reception
    • 3.1 Accolades
  • 4 Track listing
  • 5 Personnel
    • 5.1 The War on Drugs
    • 5.2 Additional musicians
    • 5.3 Recording personnel
    • 5.4 Artwork
  • 6 Charts
  • 7 References
  • 8 External links

Background and recording

Regarding his recording contributions to Slave Ambient former guitarist Kurt Vile stated, "I was stoked to play on those songs ["Best Night" and "It's Your Destiny"], but I was more involved in the early days. Obviously the first record I was very involved in."[7]


Slave Ambient's artwork features photography by founding member Adam Granduciel. Its cover photograph was taken in Zaragoza, Spain, in July 2009, whilst on tour with the band, while its interior photographs were taken when on tour as a member of Kurt Vile & the Violators in October 2009, in Livingston, Montana.


Upon release, Slave Ambient received general acclaim from music critics.[16] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average of 82, based on 31 reviews, which indicates "universal acclaim".[16]

Stuart Berman of Pitchfork Media gave the album a positive review, writing "The really amazing thing about the album is how anthemic and affirming it feels despite the near total absence of proper sing-along choruses." The album also received a "Best New Music" designation from the site.[13] The A.V. Club's Steven Hyden also gave the album a positive review, writing "With Adam Granduciel’s Dylan-esque drawl and a small orchestra of shimmering, vaguely noodly guitars as the group’s sonic trademarks, The War On Drugs is an unabashed trad-rock outfit. But Slave Ambient doesn’t recall the past so much as a bright, unexpected future, where bands like this inexplicably are still dreaming in new, refreshingly outsized ways."[8] BBC's Lou Thomas called the songs on the album "memorable," concluding his review with "Slave Ambient as a whole may be more confused than your average reality show star at a Mensa meeting, but it’s full of decent songs with a lot of heart."[10]

In a more mixed review, Slant Magazine's Matthew Cole wrote "Too often, ambient passages like 'The Animator' and 'City Reprise' sound too obviously like interludes intended to fill space between real songs, rather than finished compositions in their own right." However, Cole concluded his review with: "...War on Drugs is a well-studied rock crew with an honest experimental streak, unfazed by the fact that relatively few of their potential fans will count Nebraska and Daydream Nation among their favorite records. But with a little more time to perfect their style, the War on Drugs would be well-positioned to win converts for both camps, and also their own."[14] In another mixed review, Now's Richard Trapunski wrote: "It’s easy to get lost in the pleasant, euphoric drone, but at 47 minutes the album is more of a marathon than a sprint."[17] Spin gave the album a score of 7/10, writing, "Main man Adam Granduciel gets plenty of Dylan comparisons, but Slave Ambient feels like a more back-alley Byrds filtered through a gauzier Spacemen 3 lens."[15]


Slave Ambient has appeared on several end-of-year lists. Paste ranked the album #37 on its list of the best 50 albums of 2011, writing "Even with the departure of Kurt Vile [...] their post-Vile songs have kept them steady, and, as proven by the almost defiantly solid Slave Ambient, they can be memorable and engaging all by themselves."[18] Uncut placed Slave Ambient at number 10 on its list, while Mojo ranked the album #21 on its end-of-year list.[19][20] Pitchfork ranked the album #39 on its list of the Top 50 Albums of 2011.[21]

Track listing

All songs written by Adam Granduciel, except when noted.


The following people contributed to Slave Ambient:[22]

The War on Drugs

  • Adam Granduciel - lead vocals, electric guitars , acoustic guitars , animator guitars , harmonica , Siel OR400 , samplers , organ , harmonizer , tapes , cassettes , ARP Omni , bass guitar , keyboards , Tom Thumb piano , Farfisa , Korg Mono/Poly , Eventide , Moogerfooger , Voyager , synthesizer , percussion , drum machine , filters , dubs , drums
  • Dave Hartley - bass guitar , electric guitar , Nashville guitar , twelve-string guitar , Voyager , Roland Juno-60 , drums , electric autoharp
  • Robbie Bennett - piano , acoustic guitar , ARP Omni II , percussion
  • Mike Zanghi - drums , percussion , Hayman , Mu-Tron Bi-Phase

Additional musicians

  • Kurt Vile - electric guitar
  • Steven Urgo - drums
  • Jeff Zeigler - drum programming , harmonizers , patch bay , SPX90
  • Michael Johnson - Eventide (4), modular Moog treatments (4), hamonizer settings (5), drums (6)
  • Jeff Ryan - drums
  • Chad Stockslager - upright piano
  • Jesse Trbovich - saxophone
  • Kim Roney - piano
  • John Ashley - Voyager

Recording personnel

  • Adam Granduciel - producer, recording
  • Jeff Zeigler - producer, recording
  • John Ashley - recording
  • Michael Johnson - additional engineering
  • John Congleton - additional engineering
  • Dave Hartley - additional engineering
  • Brian McTear - mixing


  • Adam Granduciel - photography
  • Daniel Murphy - design


  1. ^ The War On Drugs - Slave Ambient :: Secretly Canadian Secretly Canadian, Retrieved on August 28, 2011
  2. ^ Smith, Stewart. The War On Drugs - Slave Ambient. 10 August 2011. Retrieved 13 December 2011.
  3. ^ Larson, Jeremy. Album Review: The War on Drugs – Slave Ambient. Consequence of Sound. 30 August 2011. Retrieved 13 December 2011.
  4. ^ Branson, Scott. The War on Drugs: Slave Ambient. Popmatters. 19 August 2011. Retrieved 13 December 2011.
  5. ^ Franco, Michael. Persevering Through the Confusion: An Interview with The War on Drugs. Popmatters. 21 November 2011. Retrieved 8 December 2011.
  6. ^ Musical Pairings: The War On Drugs - Slave Ambient | Turntable Kitchen
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b Hyden, Steven The War On Drugs: Slave Ambient | Music | Music Review. The A.V. Club, August 16, 2011, Retrieved on August 28, 2011
  9. ^ Slave Ambient - The War on Drugs Allmusic, Retrieved on August 28, 2011
  10. ^ a b Thomes, Lou Review of The War on Drugs - Slave Ambient BBC Music, August 12, 2011, Retrieved on August 28, 2011
  11. ^ Brusie, David ’80s influences with contemporary beat on the War on Drugs’ ‘Slave Ambient’ Boston Globe, August 16, 2011, Retrieved on August 28, 2011
  12. ^ Empire, Kitty. The War on Drugs: Slave Ambient – review. The Guardian. 14 August 2011. Retrieved 5 September 2011.
  13. ^ a b Berman, Stuart. The War on Drugs: Slave Ambient. Pitchfork Media. 23 August 2011. Retrieved 5 September 2011.
  14. ^ a b Cole, Matthew. The War on Drugs: Slave Ambient. Slant Magazine. 14 August 2011. Retrieved 5 September 2011.
  15. ^ a b Modell, Josh. Mates of State, 'Slave Ambient'. Spin.
  16. ^ a b Slave Ambient Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More Metacritic, Retrieved on August 28, 2011
  17. ^ Trapunski, Richard. The War On Drugs - Slave Ambient. Now. August 11–18, 2011. Retrieved 5 September 2011.
  18. ^ Josh, Jackson (29 November 2011). "The 50 Best Albums of 2011". Paste. Retrieved 30 November 2011. 
  19. ^ Uncut's Top 50 Albums Of 2011. Stereogum. 29 November 2011. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
  20. ^ MOJO's Top 50 Albums Of 2011. Stereogum. 2 December 2011. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
  21. ^ The Top 50 Albums of 2011. Pitchfork Media. 15 December 2011. Retrieved 16 December 2011.
  22. ^ Slave Ambient - Credits. Allmusic. Retrieved 5 September 2011.
  23. ^ a b Slave Ambient - Charts & Awards. Allmusic. Retrieved 5 September 2011

External links

  • Secretly Canadian's page on Slave Ambient
  • Progress Report: The War On Drugs. Stereogum interview on the recording of Slave Ambient.

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