Founding members vocalist/guitarist/pianist Nathan Willett, bassist Matt Maust, drummer Matt Aveiro, and guitarist Jonnie Russell began crafting their soulful, blues-inflected take on indie rock as Cold War Kids in 2004, recording demos in Los Angeles soon after they formed. After signing to Monarchy Music, Cold War Kids released their debut EP, Mulberry Street, in spring 2005. The band's unique sound and impassioned live act generated a buzz -- particularly from bloggers -- that grew with each tour and release. Maust's clean but eye-catching designs for EPs like With Our Wallets Full and Up in Rags, and the group's website, also added to Cold War Kids' mystique.
In 2006, they signed to Downtown Records and their full-length debut, Robbers & Cowards, arrived that fall. They relocated to Long Beach, California after spending two years on the road, and delivered their bluesy, introspective second album, Loyalty to Loyalty, in 2008. On Behave Yourself, an EP that had a digital release late in 2009 and was issued on CD early in 2010, Cold War Kids emphasized their soulful ballads. In 2010 they went into the studio with Grammy-winning producer Jacquire King (Tom Waits, Kings of Leon). Their third album, the polished Mine Is Yours, arrived in early 2011. Late in 2012, Russell departed Cold War Kids, with former Modest Mouse and Murder City Devils guitarist Dann Gallucci joining the band for 2013's Dear Miss Lonelyhearts, which he also co-produced with Lars Stalfors. A few months later, 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 the side project French Style Furs -- whose debut, Is Exotic Bait, arrived in 2014 -- Cold War Kids also returned that year with Hold My Home. Recorded at the band's personal studio and once again produced by Gallucci and Stalfors, the album was released in October 2014. In 2016 Gallucci left the band and was replaced by We Barbarians' Dave Quon. In 2017 Cold War Kids returned with their sixth studio album, L.A. Divine, which was inspired by their hometown of Los Angeles. Buoyed by the single "Love Is Mystical," the album peaked at number ten on the Billboard Top Rock Albums chart. ~ Heather Phares, Rovi