Low is one of those bands that can take a good amount of time to warm up to before you really start to enjoy their music. Low’s music and signing style falls into a genre called slowcore, characterized by slow tempos and minimalist arrangements, a subgenre of alternative and indie rock. Only recently did I learn about the slowcore genre, but it makes sense as Low’s style is very unique and difficult to explain. Their style is not for everyone, it’s an acquired taste. To me it’s very underground. Low’s latest album C’mon continues in the genre with a very lush hypnotic album that exudes organic raw power.
I was first introduced to Low in the early 90’s by my good friend Athonia Cappelli. She turned me on to Low’s debut I Could Live In Hope, an album that sounds like it could be made for people on heroin. While the album is very enjoyable without any drugs, their music will definitely enhance your aural experience when high. It took me a long time to fully enjoy I Could Live In Hope, but eventually after going back to it over a period of several months, the album grew on me, in time it became a favorite.
The band is composed of Alan Sparhawk who leads with guitar and vocals, Mimi Parker who leads with drums and vocals, both are the founding members of the band, and as of 2010, Steve Garrington on the base guitar. I believe they have one or more supporting musicians when on the road. The vocal harmony of Alan and Mimi is the most distinctive element of the band. Their songs can be haunting, powerful, and lush. You can feel the songs coming from their hearts.
Low has a solid collection of albums in their eighteen year career, they formed in 1993, however not all of their albums have hit home with me. I suppose I need to go back and give them some more time. One of my favorites is their 2005 release titled The Great Destroyer, probably their most accessible and well-known album, although C’mon seems to be gaining a good amount of public attention. If you’re interested in checking out Low I would recommend starting with The Great Destroyer and C’mon, in my opinion, two of their strongest albums all the way through, every song is great and powerful in its own way.
Video: Try To Sleep
C’mon starts off with Try To Sleep, a lullaby style song that has an incredibly catchy melody mixed with lush vocals brought on by Alan and Mimi’s signature singing style. I suppose I could use the terms “lush, haunting, powerful” for a lot of their songs on this album as many have that aural sensation to them, it’s part of their vocal harmony. You See Everything breathes in an acoustic melody with Mimi taking the vocal lead on this tune. They take turns singing solo or as a duet throughout the album, on Witches Alan leads with thick guitars and vocals with Mimi chiming in on the chorus. They have a their own signature harmonic balance when they do this on songs like Try To Sleep, Witches, $20, Magesty/Magic, Nightingale, Nothing But Heart, but then they are just as strong when they lead the vocals on their own in You See Everything, Done, and Especially Me.
Especially Me is a very powerful song and one that should be listened to with your volume turned up to 11. Easily my favorite song on the album, I find the melody and Mimi’s vocals to be so hypnotic. It is a beautiful song that will stick with you, and for me, it’s the song that kept pulling me back to the album.
Video: Especially Me
Low has a talent for building up the tempo in some of their songs, starting of with a minimalist yet thick guitar chord and slowly repeating it and building it up until it feels like a like the weight of a slow moving freight train knocking you down. It can be very powerful. This is exactly what you get in Magesty/Magic and Nothing But Heart. Specifically Nothing But Heart does this by starting off with a thick distorted guitar and then tapers it down to a simple rhythm that builds up a state of distortion that is about to explode, but then at the very end it just fizzles away. It’s an anti-climax, the climax without the real climax, it works well.
They finish off the album with a 70’s acoustic sing along jam in Something’s Turning Over. It’s a good way to finish off the album. Low C’mon is easily one of my top 10 albums for 2011 and one that I’ll be listening to for years to come. I look forward to what Low’s future releases bring to our aural pleasures.
- Try To Sleep
- You See Everything
- Especially Me
- Nothing But Heart
- Something’s Turning Over
- Low Official Site
- Low: C’mon on iTunes or Amazon
- Low: The Great Destroyer on iTunes or Amazon
- Low: I Could Live In Hope on iTunes or Amazon
- Low at Sub Pop Records
- Low on last.fm
- Low on Wikipeida
Have you heard this album yet? What are your thoughts on it or on the band Low? Please feel free to share your thoughts below and thanks for reading.