Wednesday, January 20th, 2010
Review of Retribution Gospel Choir’s 2
Cameron WittigI only discovered Low circa 2001’s Things We Lost In The Fire, which I think is right around the time the slowcore heroes began expanding their sound and the long-time faithful began to peel off. And if the (relatively) faster tempos and broader sonic palettes were anathema to them, they were manna to me – which is why my favourite of their records, 2005’s unapologetically loud and dynamic The Great Destroyer was the final straw for some. If they’d stuck around, though, they’d have found the last Low record – 2007’s Drums & Guns – to be a return to their quieter ways, albeit aided by loops, samples and seething anger.
Frontman Alan Sparhawk hadn’t suppressed his more rock-out tendencies, however – simply sublimated them into his side project, Retribution Gospel Choir. Their 2008 self-titled debut was compact, loud and sludgy and quite possibly everything that 20th century Low fans were against. The appropriately-titled follow-up 2 offers more of the same, with the emphasis on “more”. 2 is more dynamic, more anthemic and more guitar-heroic than the debut – still chock-full of distorted riffage but also loaded up with some seriously fierce soloing.
It’s never been a secret that Sparhawk was a killer guitarist, but here those skills are front and centre, though not at the expense of the songwriting – as always, it’s impassioned, melodic and more than a little pissed off. Those former Low fans I mentioned earlier will want to stay far away but may want to pay more attention when the next Low record comes out – it’s hard to imagine Sparhawk hasn’t gotten all the rock out of his system, at least for the time being, and the follow-up to Drums & Guns won’t be whisper quiet.
2 is out on Tuesday, January 26. Retribution Gospel Choir is touring through the Winter and Spring and will be at the Drake Underground in Toronto next Monday, January 25. The Cleveland Plains-Dealer has a conversation with Alan Sparhawk.
Update: And I’ve now got a couple pairs of passes to the show to give away, courtesy of Collective Concerts. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to sing in the Retribution Gospel Choir” in the subject and your full name in the body, and get that in to me before midnight, January 23.
Drowned In Sound talks to Shearwater frontman Jonathan Meiburg about their new album The Golden Archipelago, which will be released on February 23. Matablog has details on their upcoming Spring tour, which includes a Toronto date April 1 at Lee’s Palace, and the special dossier that will be released with the record. And they’ve also got a second MP3 from the album to tide you over the next month.
Germany’s Aufgemischt interviews Beach House, who’ve been premiering new videos from Teen Dream each day this week – and for one day only – at Gorilla Vs Bear, leading up to next Tuesday’s record release. And don’t worry about the ones you’ve missed, as all of the videos – they made one for each track of the album – will be available on the DVD that accompanies the CDs and LPs of the album. The record is currently streaming in its entirety at NPR and they play the Opera House on March 30.
Stream: Beach House / Teen Dream
The New York Post and NPR interview Spoon. They’re at the Sound Academy on March 29 and will also appear on this year’s edition of the Starbucks-sponsored Sweetheart Valentine’s Day covers compilation, now available at iTunes US – details at Pitchfork.
Matablog has posted a new MP3 from the Girls debut Album, in case all those year-end lists weren’t quite enough to convince you. You can also grab the file from them in lossless FLAC format. If you swing that way. Blurt talks to the guy from Girls who kinda looks like a girl, Christopher Owens.
MP3: Girls – “Laura”
Those of you unable to make either the Dinosaur Jr in-store at Sonic Boom tomorrow evening or the show at the Phoenix later that night can try and console yourselves with this NYC Taper recording of their show in New York from Saturday night – there’s also an interview over at JAM.
And Dinosaur Jr are one of the case studies in this PopMatters piece about the reunions of ’80s alt.rock legends and why they should be celebrated.