lowband

Starting XI: Low

LOW – Starting XI

Ahead of their recently announced UK tour in early August, which will see the Duluth trio play two sets of tracks selected from a back catalogue that spans just under two and a half decades, GIITV presents eleven choice cuts to whet the appetite.

Words – from the album I Could Live In Hope (1994, Vernon Yard)

The first track from their first album, this bleak classic typified the band for many years. If Joy Division were post-punk, then this is about a hundred posts further on.

Lullaby – from the album I Could Live In Hope (1994, Vernon Yard)

On an album that rests below the pace of a heartbeat, ‘Lullaby’ is Low at their most foreboding and also at their most grave. It has a length of just shy of ten minutes, but Mimi Parker’s longing vocals and the simple five note melody that underpins it stretch out for aeons.

Do You Know How To Waltz? – from the album The Curtain Hits The Cast (1996, Vernon Yard)

Low’s longest track, it is also there most powerful and one could argue their most affecting. It ends with a near ten-minute long wall of noise, one that was extended to half an hour in an (almost) wordless protest to the US Army’s use of drones in foreign conflicts at a recent festival appearance.

Because You Stood Still – from the single Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me (2001, self-released)

For indication of the sheer quality and weight of Low’s back-catalogue, if the eleven studio albums aren’t enough, look no further than the B-Side to a limited edition single released on their own record label. It contains some of the band’s best lyrics, and one of Alan Sparhawk’s best vocal performances, and one could argue that it is as strong as anything they have released as a single, even if they won’t play it live no matter how many gigs you request it at.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7acnALE7kk

(That’s How You Sing) Amazing Grace – from the album Trust (2002, Kranky)

Arriving less than eighteen months after the equally stunning full-length Things We Lost In The Fire, Trust finds Low at their absolute creative peak, and the opener ‘(That’s How You Sing) Amazing Grace’ is the peak within it, harking back to the sparse slowcore sound of their early releases.

 

Canada – from the album Trust (2002, Kranky)

The very next track on the album shows the other side of the coin in regards to how the band’s sound had now developed and diversified by the time of Trust‘s release. A four minute radio-friendly indie-pop anthem with a guitar solo in the bridge, it was the predecessor to Low’s move to a major record label.

Monkey – from the album The Great Destroyer (2005, Sub Pop)

The first track from the first album put out on legendary label Sub Pop, ‘Monkey’ saw the band put both feet firmly in Alt-Rock territory. It is murky, heavy, paranoid, but beneath it all it is still Low.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B1BrLiKMss

 

Silver Rider – from the album The Great Destroyer (2005, Sub Pop)

To stretch the terminology of a “starting XI”, ‘Silver Rider’ would probably be a perennial substitute waiting on the fringes of the first team, but if its good enough for Robert Plant to make a respectable attempt at making his own, perhaps it should be good enough for the rest of us too.

 

Step – from the album The Great Destroyer (2005, Sub Pop)

The second track on this list to feature the vocals of Alan and Mimi’s daughter (after ‘Canada’), ‘Step’ is somewhat of a hidden gem, lacking the power of many tracks from The Great Destroyer but containing its’ catchiest chorus.

Stay – web-only release (2013)

At the hands of most bands, this cover of the Rihanna ballad would have sounded like a cheap, cheesy cash in, but Low give it a respectful treatment that doesn’t stray too far from the original.

 

 

Gentle – from the album Ones & Sixes (2015, Sub Pop)

Ones & Sixes saw Low try to add a new element to their sound through the heavy use of studio engineering for the second time, but whilst Drums & Guns was a (relative) failure in this regard, here the right balance was struck, with engineer BJ Burton giving the band a new lease of life. ‘Gentle’ sounds apprehensive, urgent, claustrophobic and expansive, and all at the same time.

 

Jordan Dowling

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.