The song at #64 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is “So Tied Up” by blues rock band Cold War Kids featuring vocals by Bishop Briggs. Based in Long Beach, California, Cold War Kids formed in 2004 and has undergone numerous changes in lineup, and now consists of Nathan Willett (lead vocals, piano, guitar), Matt Maust (bass guitar), David Quon (guitar, backing vocals), Matthew Schwartz (keyboards, backing vocals, guitar, percussion), and Joe Plummer, who formerly played drums for bands Modest Mouse and The Shins (drums, percussion). I love their vibrant, hard-driving sound, and they have two songs on this list – “So Tied Up” and their 2015 single “First”, which appears later.
Singer-songwriter Bishop Briggs, based in nearby Los Angeles, is pretty awesome too, with a distinctive, powerhouse voice. Combining her passionate vocals with the commanding vocals of Cold War Kids lead singer Nathan Willett on “So Tied Up” results in auditory fireworks to match the biting lyrics about a destructive co-dependent relationship that’s become so toxic the two partners loathe each other, yet are powerless to escape from it. The song is from Cold War Kids’ sixth album L.A. Divine, which also features another great song “Love is Mystical”. I loved “So Tied Up” at first listen and never tired of hearing it.
The song is positively electrifying, with an aggressive stomping beat-driven melody highlighted by pounding drums and piano keys, and fortified with a heavy thumping bass line, gritty synths and fantastic guitar work. The track’s massive sound combined with Willett and Briggs’ fiery vocals never fails to cover me with goosebumps. Shockingly, the song was not a very big hit, peaking only at #9 on the Billboard Adult Alternative and #12 on the Alternative charts. It spent two weeks at #1 on my own Weekly Top 30 chart, however.
The darkly amusing and rather violent video shows Willett and Briggs singing the song interspersed with scenes of a couple hell-bent on killing each other. By the time the song was released, Bishop Briggs had become quite popular in her own right, and many of her fans complained that her vocals weren’t prominent enough on the song. So, Cold War Kids invited her back into the studio so she could dub more of her vocals onto the track. The official video was reissued with her vocals given greater prominence.