Low: Classic or classic?

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Self explanatory, I'd have thought. I'm listening to the new Low album, 'Things we lost in the fire': it's fantastic, of course. Have I lost all sense of perspective on these things, or can anyone seriously doubt the greatness and majesty of Low?

alex thomson, Saturday, 17 February 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) Permalink

rabid low fans: dud or dud? or rather, low fans: wowed by gap commercials or hopeful mormons?

ethan padgett, Saturday, 17 February 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) Permalink

*yawn* blandly pleasant but ultimately characterless and forgettable. occasionally catchy. ever wonder if they're just too lazy to play fast?

sundar subramanian, Saturday, 17 February 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) Permalink

Classic, but I have my doubts about the new album.

Josh, Saturday, 17 February 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) Permalink

sundar - i downloaded a mp3 medley were thewy playee misfits covers really fast...so the answer on the lazy question is no...-)

Jens, Saturday, 17 February 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) Permalink

Hey, I like 'em -- even crashed on my apartment floor once back in 1994. Got the new album today but have not yet had a chance to give it an ear.

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 18 February 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) Permalink

Christian rock sucks, dude.

I think they're alright, I think their obvious dedication to their sound and art is fairly admirable, but the resulting records don't move me (the Christmas one is quite nice).

In some of the praise of them there's an undertow of virtues-of- simplicity stuff, and I can see why - when I listen to Low the word that often comes to mind is 'quaint'. You feel a little better for owning a Low record, I suppose, like a piece of handmade furniture or something. They're not classic.

Tom, Monday, 19 February 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) Permalink

Undertow? The whole damn point to their first three albums is the virtue of simplicity - simplicity at one possible extreme.

Josh, Monday, 19 February 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...
Dud.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 13 March 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

four months pass...
Josh, could you discuss (even partially) the change in Low from "Curtain Hits the Cast"-era to "Thing We Lost in the Fire"- era, either on this thread or on your blog. I only own "I Could Live in Hope" and I can't discern any noticeable change of aesthetics in the band in later records from reading reviews. It seems the majority of record reviewers don't delve into the band's records at any deeper level than "Here's another Low record from the frigid plains of Duluth, Minnesota and it's slow and depressing again. Suprise!" If your answer is "Just listen to the darn albums!", then I'll accept that.

Mitch Lastnamewithheld, Friday, 20 July 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Here you go. Listen to the damn albums, too - I think "Hope," "Curtain," and "Things" in sequence make the case a lot more convincing.

Josh, Friday, 20 July 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

And here's my response -- more of an addendum of sorts, really, since I pretty much agree widdim.

Phil, Friday, 20 July 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Thanks, guys. I have the feeling I should purchase "Curtain Hits.." sometime in the near future.

Mitch Lastnamewithheld, Saturday, 21 July 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I think they are holy and beutiful. So simple and elegant . Low key really like a shaker cupboard.

anthony, Saturday, 21 July 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

not quite classic, but have been close in the past. long division, curtain, secret name, deadpilot, all have some truly beautiful songs, but don't gel as albums - too many mediocre songs as well, they all get the cdprogram treatment from me, this is probably what prevents them from achieving the classic status. i still haven't played the new one yet, just haven't been in the right mood for it.

gareth, Sunday, 22 July 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

eleven months pass...
pinefox, I am shocked!

ha I never said on this thread that 'the curtain hits the cast' is one of my few most favorite albums ever.

Josh, Monday, 1 July 2002 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Calssically dud?

Julio Desouza, Monday, 1 July 2002 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

five years pass...

i watched that low documentary on cable last nite. maaaaaaaan, was that boring. not even two members of napalm death could pep things up. HOW IRONIC LOW DUDE THEY ARE IN NAPALM DEATH AND YOU ARE IN LOW AND YOU ARE IN THE SAME BUILDING WHAT ARE THE ODDS. on the other hand, it made me want to listen to low records. i do like low. and watching low live from my couch is, if you ask me, the best friggin' place on earth to watch low live.

scott seward, Wednesday, 9 January 2008 20:25 (eleven years ago) Permalink

hahah, interesting post. a boring documentary that made you wanna listen to the records. i can see that. good documentary i guess, rather slow, i own it but have only watched it once, so far.

stephen, Wednesday, 9 January 2008 20:33 (eleven years ago) Permalink

the live footage is indeed superb.

stephen, Wednesday, 9 January 2008 20:33 (eleven years ago) Permalink

that's the Low In Europe thing, right? I've got that DVD too, should really watch it again too

StanM, Wednesday, 9 January 2008 20:43 (eleven years ago) Permalink

they should have set up the most boring people alive premise even more than they did. they sould have called the doc: HOW LOW CAN YOU GO:THE DIRTY DULUTH 3 LAY WASTE TO EUROPE! with girls gone wild cover art.

scott seward, Wednesday, 9 January 2008 20:49 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Maybe the sequel will be even lower

StanM, Wednesday, 9 January 2008 20:52 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Low & Lowerer, with new bass player Jim Carrey

StanM, Wednesday, 9 January 2008 20:53 (eleven years ago) Permalink

ultimately characterless and forgettable

lol. Heard Drums and Guns?

Daniel, Esq., Wednesday, 9 January 2008 22:20 (eleven years ago) Permalink

it hadn't been released back then

electricsound, Wednesday, 9 January 2008 22:27 (eleven years ago) Permalink

i have "low in europe" and only got halfway through it. hmm. and as you all know, i adore them.

vvv tickled to see the original post -- it was alex who got me into low, some ... fucking hell, 12 years ago now. christ.

grimly fiendish, Wednesday, 9 January 2008 22:30 (eleven years ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

which album do I listen to right now if I've never heard any of them before? quick!

Preview of the Matrix 12, Sunday, 27 January 2008 23:44 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I think The Great Destroyer is very accessible, so that may be a good entry point. But I guess Things We Lost In The Fire might be a more representative disc.

A handful of songs on the new disc (called Drums and Guns) are also an excellent introduction to the band. Try, for example, this killer (no pun intended) version of Murderer, from a live, in-studio performance last year.

Daniel, Esq., Sunday, 27 January 2008 23:48 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Things We Lost in the Fire is a great introduction. I'd also recommend Secret Name, which was my intro, also very good.

stephen, Monday, 28 January 2008 20:19 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Things We Lost in the Fire, definitely. Worked for me at least, from the first chord change.

Z S, Monday, 28 January 2008 20:26 (eleven years ago) Permalink

four months pass...

Anyone see that film about Low that's now showing on Pitchfork.tv? It's called You Might Need A Murderer. I didn't know how troubled Alan Spearhawk was. Semi-boring film, but a totally compelling band.

Daniel, Esq., Sunday, 22 June 2008 01:34 (ten years ago) Permalink

Oh it's on Pitchfork.tv? Sweet, I saw it in the local record store today and passed on it ($20 brand new) but i'll totally watch it for free. One of my all time favorite bands, love these guys.

stephen, Sunday, 22 June 2008 01:58 (ten years ago) Permalink

npr interview with the sparhawks a while ago that touched on his issues

mookieproof, Sunday, 22 June 2008 02:00 (ten years ago) Permalink

Catch it now, Stephen. It's the "One Week Only" feature on Pitchfork.tv.

Daniel, Esq., Sunday, 22 June 2008 02:14 (ten years ago) Permalink

That NPR interview is fascinating. Sparhawk dances around his problems some, but this is the first time I've heard he was suicidal.

Daniel, Esq., Sunday, 22 June 2008 02:41 (ten years ago) Permalink

Thanks Daniel, I'll be sure to check it out Sunday morning when i get up :D

stephen, Sunday, 22 June 2008 03:53 (ten years ago) Permalink

Retribution Gospel Choir (Alan's new, catchier, LOUD, rock band) played a sparsely attended show in Montreal on Friday that was fucking amazing. PLayed their hearts out for we seated folk, left my ears so happily ringing. Was sad to see him loading up the van alone in the street afterward (last time I saw Low it was at ATP with another 1000 people). If Retribution Gospel Choir come to chez toi, go go go. terrific.

sean gramophone, Sunday, 22 June 2008 16:52 (ten years ago) Permalink

Low have subtley crept, over the course of about ten years, into the position of being my favorite existing band.

Pillbox, Sunday, 22 June 2008 18:28 (ten years ago) Permalink

"subtly"

Pillbox, Sunday, 22 June 2008 18:28 (ten years ago) Permalink

Some good discussion on this thread, methinks.

Pillbox, Sunday, 22 June 2008 18:41 (ten years ago) Permalink

Retribution Gospel Choir (Alan's new, catchier, LOUD, rock band) played a sparsely attended show in Montreal on Friday that was fucking amazing.

ARGH I was on the list for this but couldn't go, damn you, job.

Simon H., Sunday, 22 June 2008 18:44 (ten years ago) Permalink

I've seen them 7-8 times since 1997 and have observed as the venue/audience size has grown in tandem with the expanse of the band's dynamic (louder choruses, distortion pedals and such). The songs from their last few records are perfectly suited to the mid-size theatres they play these days. But my favorite gigs were one in the mid-to-late 90's, when they would come through the Ann Arbor/Detroit area quite regularly and play at little hole-in-the-wall spots: The (small) audience would generally sit on the floor and remain dead silent until the band finished playing (save for the occasional applause). There was a communal reverence, churchlike almost, unlike anything else I've experienced at rock gigs (even a "seated" Yo La Tengo show from their And Then Nothing.. tour, in which the band/venue provided the audience with folding chairs, didn't come close). It was a beautiful thing to be a part of, really.

Pillbox, Sunday, 22 June 2008 19:12 (ten years ago) Permalink

I totally get that. I'm sure you'd agree, though, that they deserve all the additional attention -- and higher audience attendance at shows -- that they now get. I'm with you: Low has become one of my favorite, if not my absolute favorite, band of the moment.

Daniel, Esq., Sunday, 22 June 2008 19:34 (ten years ago) Permalink

I'll third that. Best band going today.

stephen, Sunday, 22 June 2008 19:37 (ten years ago) Permalink

i saw RGC a few years back with Kozelek and they were alright but the drummer was really stiff; if it's the same guy I'm sure they've loosened up a bit. I'm assuming Kozelek isn't on this tour.

akm, Sunday, 22 June 2008 20:06 (ten years ago) Permalink

the best thing they played though was a crazy ass cover of "the carpet crawlers"

akm, Sunday, 22 June 2008 20:06 (ten years ago) Permalink

I'm sure you'd agree, though, that they deserve all the additional attention -- and higher audience attendance at shows

Yeah, it has actually been very rewarding to watch a humble little band like Low build and expand their aesthetic over the years, and at the same time gain popularity because of the sheer quality of their art. Even thought I have those fond memories of tiny quiet shows, I have no problem sharing Low with The World.

Strictly in terms of popularity, though, I know Low is bigger in Europe than The States, at least circa early-2000s. Was it that way in the mid-to-late 90's too? I'd been used to Low concerts being generally as described above. But then, in 2000, I moved to Dublin for college and twice saw Low in sold-out concerts at The Olympia, a fairly large theatre (fantastic shows both, one with cello!).

Pillbox, Sunday, 22 June 2008 20:13 (ten years ago) Permalink

"thought" = though

Pillbox, Sunday, 22 June 2008 20:15 (ten years ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

stop all the clocks, quieten all the whisperings about low's republican tendencies:

low are playing an obama benefit somewhere.

they're also doing christmas shows in the uk, in november.

schlump, Thursday, 17 July 2008 11:32 (ten years ago) Permalink

"you can't trust violence" is one of the great economical phrases of rock tbh

wayne trotsky (Simon H.), Sunday, 18 November 2018 00:57 (three months ago) Permalink

Was nice to hear Lazy last night sort of float out of the noise of Waltz.

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 18 November 2018 02:11 (three months ago) Permalink

Speaking of which, "Lazy" sounds remarkably like Labradford, distantly presaging their switch to Kranky.

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 18 November 2018 13:47 (three months ago) Permalink

xpost "Words" - love that song as well ... curious why you find that "man in the box" line so bothersome?

that's not my post, Sunday, 18 November 2018 18:46 (three months ago) Permalink

it's "burn my soul" in particular, feels both very arch and quite vague. I assume the narrator is troubled by something he sees on TV but "burns my soul" just doesn't point anywhere to me

rip van wanko, Sunday, 18 November 2018 22:55 (three months ago) Permalink

I always assumed it was a reference to a televangelist hectoring sinners with threats of eternal damnation.

Tim F, Sunday, 18 November 2018 23:10 (three months ago) Permalink

that first album still sounds like faith / pornography - era cure to me

reggie (qualmsley), Sunday, 18 November 2018 23:10 (three months ago) Permalink

i'm enjoying this introspect! kramer's production, honestly. he had it down. those first two LPs, and Galaxie 500...

meaulnes, Sunday, 18 November 2018 23:12 (three months ago) Permalink

I hadn't listened to the first album in years, but this morning it sounded like it could have been released this year. Faith era Cure otm.

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 18 November 2018 23:55 (three months ago) Permalink

I always assumed it was a reference to a televangelist hectoring sinners with threats of eternal damnation.

― Tim F, Sunday, November 18, 2018 3:10 PM (three hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

This is my interpretation as well. It's a US-specific reference so maybe it doesn't travel too well.

that's not my post, Monday, 19 November 2018 02:29 (three months ago) Permalink

i've been thinking about "always up" ever since i saw it performed at the chicago show. i never appreciated its subdued power until hearing it in that church

diamonddave85​​ (diamonddave85), Tuesday, 27 November 2018 20:47 (two months ago) Permalink

I like the new record, I'm not quite as head over heels in love with it as a lot of folks seem, though I am sort of chalking it up to seeing it live and hearing the songs in that setting and kind of falling in love with them vs the record.

I hadn't see them play a regular non-noise/drone show in a long time & they were fantastic, one of the best shows I have ever seen, every song was like the best song ever played.

Secret Name & Things We Lost In the Fire are still my go to lps,

chr1sb3singer, Tuesday, 27 November 2018 20:54 (two months ago) Permalink

i am completely head over heels in love with it

diamonddave85​​ (diamonddave85), Tuesday, 27 November 2018 21:06 (two months ago) Permalink

i think it even leveled-up after the 200th listen

diamonddave85​​ (diamonddave85), Tuesday, 27 November 2018 21:07 (two months ago) Permalink

I've finally got hold of Double Negative, yes this is a good lp. I would like it even more if they could keep the style of the first four tracks going through the rest of it, but understand that it might try people's patience a bit.

mfktz (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Thursday, 6 December 2018 22:59 (two months ago) Permalink

This is the first Low album I've purchased in years, and it really holds up. The blown-out / distortion effects don't wear thin, as it's pared back nicely during some understated parts. It's well-nuanced, compared to something like Embryonic by The Flaming Lips

braunld (Lowell N. Behold'n), Friday, 7 December 2018 00:40 (two months ago) Permalink

It sounds as if they're using really heavy compression. "Always Trying to Work it Out" is fascinating - it has the same kind of aggressive compression as a lot of dance music. Whenever the kick drum comes in the entire rest of the mix gets out of the way, but they've made the kick drum quiet so that it sounds as if distant artillery is going off. Or some infernal factory. The album sounds like a more experimental, gloomier Slowdive.

I've generally been sceptical of Low - no-one can be that anguished for that long, they came across as fakers - but Double Negative is subtler. The sound is much more in-your-face but the lyrics and general atmosphere are subtler.

Ashley Pomeroy, Friday, 7 December 2018 23:12 (two months ago) Permalink

no-one can be that anguished for that long

actually,

lowercase (eric), Friday, 7 December 2018 23:19 (two months ago) Permalink

I've generally been sceptical of Low - no-one can be that anguished for that long, they came across as fakers

This is a really weird opinion

The Poppy Bush AutoZone (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Saturday, 8 December 2018 03:30 (two months ago) Permalink

Always Trying To Work It Out is my favorite track on here, and that sidechain kick is definitely a big part of that. Don't know that I've really heard that before on a nominally non-electronic recording.

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Saturday, 8 December 2018 03:59 (two months ago) Permalink

They used that effect on the last LP as well, notably on the opener "Gentle"

resident hack (Simon H.), Saturday, 8 December 2018 05:53 (two months ago) Permalink

I've generally been sceptical of Low - no-one can be that anguished for that long, they came across as fakers

This is a really weird opinion


esp if you know even a little bit about sparhawk

gbx, Thursday, 13 December 2018 02:14 (two months ago) Permalink

re the sidechain kicks:

I wouldn't deny that the sound is quite different here (though again it was suggested by some of the tracks on Ones and Sixes), but I feel that the way the band use keyboards and static and processed sounds here (a lot of the arrangements seem to be built on distorted samples of their own vocals) is strongly consistent with their prior general songwriting/arranging approach: especially the way that some of the tracks seem to be almost a grim caricature of sidechain compression with the melodies being obliterated by a regular but slow overwhelming kick like they're constantly disappearing into and re-emerging from a black hole. It's very much a digital counterpart to their original trick of focusing the listener's attention on stark, very slow, endlessly repeated guitar chords.

― Tim F, Tuesday, 11 September 2018 22:49 (three months ago) Permalink

Perhaps worth emphasising that the kick itself does not sound "loud" - almost like they wanted to concoct a heavily sidechained arrangement but then remove the most of the sound that the sidechaining is designed to emphasise, so it's as if the arrangements are being overwhelemed by silence or numbness, like you're going straight from sensation to a kind of post-explosion deafness, but skipping the sound of the explosion that put you there.

I can't think of a more allusive sonic trick in music this year.

Tim F, Thursday, 13 December 2018 03:22 (two months ago) Permalink

Purity Ring did that a lot on Shrines, having extreme sidechain effects, but muting out the kick half the time so it sounds like everything is fading in and out.

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Thursday, 13 December 2018 03:46 (two months ago) Permalink

I'd characterize the music of Low as downtempo, reflective, somber at times, but not "anguished"

rip van wanko, Thursday, 13 December 2018 04:34 (two months ago) Permalink

Yeah, they exert a level of control I tend not to associate with anguish. Angst, sure.

resident hack (Simon H.), Thursday, 13 December 2018 04:39 (two months ago) Permalink

The missing link here is the weird kick Sparhawk used on the first Retribution Gospel Choir album, not the same but it was definitely some weird compression (I've heard of side chain but I don't know enough to say if it's the same thing)

No Smockin' (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 13 December 2018 13:09 (two months ago) Permalink

Are the drums on "No Comprende" from the last albums programmed or massively compressed or both?

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 13 December 2018 13:26 (two months ago) Permalink

I used to use that trick a lot, you sidechain the kick to the other track and send it 'pre-fader'.

change display name (Jordan), Thursday, 13 December 2018 16:29 (two months ago) Permalink

all the bandcamp daily pieces ive read have been neat - theyre more in touch than a lot of music mags

meaulnes, Wednesday, 19 December 2018 20:19 (two months ago) Permalink

X-post
Really? I find that quite vague and quite blah. He doesn't really say anything specific about any song. And even when he tells the story about his skiing accident the influence on the album does not become clear. I was waiting that he'd write that Fly was inspired by the accident and the long period of immobility. Maybe the reader is supposed to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Luckily his profession is to make music and not to write.

Ich bin kein Berliner (alex in mainhattan), Wednesday, 19 December 2018 21:06 (two months ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Thank you, anonymous US Post Office employee: Reflections on the debut by the band and Kramer

willem, Wednesday, 13 February 2019 15:11 (one week ago) Permalink

are the "Lullaby" and "Cut" demos from the boxset taken from that demo tape?

bhad bundy (Simon H.), Wednesday, 13 February 2019 15:25 (one week ago) Permalink

Box set liner notes confirm that, yes.

willem, Wednesday, 13 February 2019 15:52 (one week ago) Permalink

From the liner notes:

-lullaby (demo) – Mimi’s first song
-cut (demo) – This song was possibly the first song we wrote. These first 2 demos were recorded in our apartment by a friend with a 4-track cassette machine after our first show in Duluth. We sent out a half dozen copies to some indie labels, got a nice note from Dischord, and an invitation to record with Kramer…

willem, Wednesday, 13 February 2019 15:56 (one week ago) Permalink

thanks! I can definitely imagine just being floored by these recordings.

bhad bundy (Simon H.), Wednesday, 13 February 2019 15:57 (one week ago) Permalink

For some reason, the album version of "Lullaby" is really popular in Turkey. Like, 15 million (yes, million) views on YouTube popular: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaSVkb_XLt4
Read the comments...half of them are in Turkish.

ernestp, Sunday, 17 February 2019 01:48 (five days ago) Permalink

its their biggest song on spotify too

always been in my top 3 Low songs

Friedrich B. Neechy (Oor Neechy), Sunday, 17 February 2019 14:24 (five days ago) Permalink

I figured it must be a soundtrack appearance? but I don't see any placements for "Lullaby" on Tunefind or anything more recent than an obscure 1998 movie on IMDb. They have had more TV appearances than I'd expected, though.

https://www.tunefind.com/artist/low

bhad bundy (Simon H.), Sunday, 17 February 2019 15:42 (five days ago) Permalink

i had assumed it mustve been on a soundtrack too.
Its as big a mystery as that Dinosaur Jr track that exploded

Friedrich B. Neechy (Oor Neechy), Sunday, 17 February 2019 20:49 (five days ago) Permalink

Maybe it's some fluke of the Youtube algorithm? I don't know if it gives different recommendations by country.

jmm, Sunday, 17 February 2019 20:53 (five days ago) Permalink

Also people (parents?) probably just search “lullaby” and streaming / video services count plays even if you don’t listen to the whole song.

sctttnnnt (pgwp), Sunday, 17 February 2019 20:55 (five days ago) Permalink

but.....why Turkey?!

bhad bundy (Simon H.), Monday, 18 February 2019 05:12 (four days ago) Permalink

Simon you should ask them.

macropuente (map), Monday, 18 February 2019 06:27 (four days ago) Permalink

tried to put some of those Turkish comments through google translate and it's like this track has become some sort of anthem for the depressed/suicidal somehow (with a bit of 4llah sprinkled in amongst them as well)

StanM, Monday, 18 February 2019 08:30 (four days ago) Permalink

found no clues as to how/why Turkey though

StanM, Monday, 18 February 2019 08:30 (four days ago) Permalink

probably similar to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luM6oeCM7Yw

Hmmmmm (jamiesummerz), Monday, 18 February 2019 09:32 (four days ago) Permalink

view count: 77 million

Hmmmmm (jamiesummerz), Monday, 18 February 2019 09:33 (four days ago) Permalink

damn there's like a whole suicidal ideation support group formed in the comments on that one

bhad bundy (Simon H.), Monday, 18 February 2019 17:46 (four days ago) Permalink


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