To be completely forthright, I did not expect to like The Low Anthem. I had never heard much of their past music, but it seemed way more "traditional folk" than music I would typically find interesting. My usual musical happy place is fucked-up experimental rock or aggressively percussive electronica (Melvins and Aphex Twin are two of my favorite and most formative bands, after all).
But when the band sent along their new album, it grew on me like a virus. Upon first listen I remember thinking, "I don't know what it is, but there is something really special here." After dozens of listens, I couldn't get over how these songs could sound so organic while also being highly conceptual. It almost seemed contradictory, but the band were somehow able to achieve this balance — conceptual without being contrived.
I was perplexed at the brevity of the tracks — songs which are so fucking catchy, and which could have easily been milked for another 2 choruses for maximum fanage end with abrupt fades into the next track before it is ever possible for the song to overstay its welcome. It's beautiful.
So I took a deeper look at the band, and came to know them personally. I learned about their story, which is a a fascinating trajectory for any band. These dudes had self-released albums that went on to sell over 100,000 copies, only to turn their backs on the "folk revival" movement right when they were at their peak. The band opted instead to focus energy on their local community by rehabbing a vaudeville-era theater, and building their own recording studio, thus having freereign to make any kind of fucked-up records they wanted in their own studio. (For more info on their story, check out their full bio here.)
The band's whole trajectory and subsequent artistic ideals feel like they come from deep inside the Joyful Noise ethos. It became clear to me that The Low Anthem belong on JNR. The partnership feels like a reunion of long-lost family members or something... Like we finally met a love-child we never knew we had.
At this point, I'm completely obsessed with this album: the purposeful simplicity; their willingness to use things like a spinning interior record groove as percussion; their subtle and seamlessly organic integration of electronics into their songs.
You'll understand when you get to hear the whole thing. I hope you become as obsessed with it as I am.