Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Low Anthem - "Oh My God Charlie Darwin" CD

Seeing this multi-instrumentalist trio open for Irish songstress Lisa Hannigan recently was enough to convince me to pick this one up. Based in Rhode Island, The Low Anthem create brisk and timeless Americana -- melding turn-of-the-century working-class folk, hauntingly tender slow/sad gospel hymns, and raving lunatic blues -- all with startlingly sincere results. Their instrumentation (pump organs, harmonium, cellphones, zithers, Tibetan singing bowls as well as guitars and drums) to craft weathered vagabond stories and hopelessly romantic tales is refreshing and unusual. "Charlie Darwin" opens the set with a stirring falsetto courtesy of frontman Ben Knox Miller. 'To Ohio' is a kind of dead-ringer for Duluth's legendary 'slowcore' progenitors, Low (that's no bad thing). 'The Horizon Is A Beltway' is a rousing hoedown with gruff vocals that channel Tom Waits. In fact, 'Home I'll Never Be' even dares to cover a mighty Waits/Jack Kerouac composition, with surprisingly successful results. 'Ticket Taker' is stark, understated, and absolutely moving, whereas 'Champion Angel' is as anthemic and rocking as anything by Springsteen or the Arcade Fire. This genre-hopping and blending of moods could be disastrous in the hands of a lesser band, but the Low Anthem handle everything like true professionals. They are poised for great things. Hell, they are already there, as far as I'm concerned. It's just time everyone else noticed them. This album is already among my picks-of-the-year. (End Of The Road Records)

The Low Anthem site

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