Wednesday, March 21st, 2007
Low’s 2005 effort The Great Destroyer was a polarizing record for their fanbase. While they’d steadily moved away from the ultra-slow, ultra-quiet sound that defined them early on, that record abandoned the incremental steps they’d taken previously and dived headlong into the realm of loud guitar rock. For some, it was the last straw for a band that had obviously lost its way, for others, it was a bold sign that they still had a sense of adventure and were not going to be constrained by others’ expectations. I was firmly of the latter mindset and The Great Destroyer was one of my favourite records of that year.
But for anyone who thought that record would be a sign of things to come, Low have confounded expectations again. Their latest record Drums And Guns, released yesterday, is in some ways the polar opposite of The Great Destroyer and in others, its perfect companion piece. It’s an utterly stark and skeletal record, even for Low, that favours spare electronic textures, abrasive percussion and guitar tones and an unrelenting lyrical bleakness and vitriol that’s unmistakably political. Dave Fridmann once again produced this record and whereas the the last effort called for the bombast he’s known for, this time he’s crafted an atmosphere of desolation. There are still moments of beauty – Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk’s vocals are still angelic throughout and the strings that rise in “Belarus” are like flowers growing out of the rubble, but such punctuations are rare. In the wake of The Great Destroyer, Drums And Guns are what crawl from the wreckage.
Alan Sparhawk talks to Harp about the undertones of violence in the new record while JAM! offers a capsule history of the band from then to now. Metacritic is tracking a typically positive response to the new record and the band is touring to support, but are not making any stops in the Toronto area this time around.
The AV Club asks Win Butler of Arcade Fire why he smashed his guitar on SNL, Student Life talks to brother Will, while Billboard asks Merge how they prepared for what would turn out to be the #2 album in America (Neon Bible, that is).
The incomporable Richard Thompson will be releasing a new album on May 29 entitled Sweet Warrior and he talks to The Associated Press about the politicism of the album and his work in general. He’s also made a track from the record available to download.
eye talks to Basia Bulat, opening up tonight for Maria Taylor at the Horseshoe. Her debut Oh, My Darling is out sometime in mid-May in Europe but information on a domestic release remains elusive. She’s also got a few gigs opening for Great Lake Swimmers though not their April 14 shows at the Church Of The Redeemer in Toronto. Their new one Ongiara is out next Tuesday and I Heart Music has a CBC Radio 3 session the band recorded a few years ago available to share. Express talked to Taylor about life on the road.
Audio previews of The National’s new album Boxer, out May 22, haven’t seeped onto the internet yet, so these two live videos at Take Away Shows are pretty much the first taste we’ve got of the new material. WANT. MORE. They’re at the Opera House on June 8.
And a few big shows announced in the last while – Modest Mouse are at the Hummingbird Centre on April 24, tickets $36.50 and $42, while Dinosaur Jr are at The Phoenix on June 8. I’m wondering if it’ll be a NxNE show of the sort where they let a half-dozen badge holders and wristbands in and sell tickets for the other 950 spots? Either way, that conflicts with the Voxtrot show at Sneaky Dee’s so unless it’s an early show, I’m guessing I’ll miss out on having my eardrums assaulted by J and Lou again. And finally, BrooklynVegan reports that the White Stripes date announced at the Molson Amphitheatre for September 16 isn’t legit, but probably isn’t too far off from the truth.