M. Ward Looks Beyond 'War' On New Album

While indie singer/songwriter M. Ward paid homage to pre-World War II American music and history on his 2004 album "Transistor Radio," his upcoming set explores the human toll of warfare in the modern

While indie singer/songwriter M. Ward paid homage to pre-World War II American music and history on his 2004 album "Transistor Radio," his upcoming set explores the human toll of warfare in the modern age.

Due Aug. 22 via Merge, "Post-War" is Ward's first "full band" record. The artist recruited percussionists Rachel Blumberg (formerly of the Decemberists) and Jordan Hudson (formerly of the Thermals), who toured with him over the past year and a half, to fill out the record. Multi-instrumentalist Mike Coykendall, singer Neko Case and My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James also contributed their talents.

"This is the first time I've had a core of musicians that I turn to for specific layers of arrangement," Ward tells Billboard.com of the album, which he co-produced with Adam Selzer and Mike Mogis. "It's by far the best record I've ever done and [the most fun] record I've ever made. It's pretty sick to travel and record with your own friends."

The album includes a cover of Daniel Johnston's "To Go Home" as well as the instrumental "Neptune's Net." Ward says two pieces of post-war literature, Ernest Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises" and Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five," helped inspire some of the new album themes, particularly when they're applied to the ongoing war in Iraq.

"Something that I think about is what is going to happen in the country once these soldiers come home -- what happens to these families that have been broken up," he says. "I like the way these kind of novels had addressed the 'coming home.'"

Ward is planning a band tour in support of "Post-War," beginning in August in Europe and continuing through September in the United States.

Here is the track list for "Post-War":
"Poison Cup"
"To Go Home"
"Right in the Head"
"Post-War"
"Requiem"
"Chinese Translation"
"Eyes on the Prize"
"Magic Trick"
"Neptune's Net"
"Rollercoaster"
"Today's Undertaking"
"Afterword/Rag"