Track of the day #58: Low

Low, photo credit Shelly Mosman.

As I hinted at in my last post, I’ve been exhausted by everything going on in Edinburgh during August. But it’s time to return to some kind of normality around here…

I mentioned a few months ago that Low are about to release a new album, entitled Double Negative. Coming out once again on the legendary Sub Pop, the tracks released so far to do the rounds are a sign that the band have taken a radical step and embraced electronics. Overwhelmed by submissions over here at 17 Seconds Towers, ‘Disarray,’ taken from the album, is simply stunning. As in: one of the best tracks I have heard this year.

At first, it might even seem like radio interference, and then the vocals kick in. It’s like hearing ELO over some of the noughties finest noise acts, something that sounds so wrong it can only possibly come together. It continues to bode well for the new album, and shows that twenty-five years in, the trio from Duluth, Minnesota are continuing to challenge listeners. Bring on the album!

The return of Low

Low: Photo credit Shelly Mosman

Low were one of the very first bands I ever posted about here on 17 Seconds, nearly twelve years ago. They are shortly to release a new album, Double Negative, which will be released on the mighty Sub Pop, on September 14. Sure, that’s three months away, but there’s nothing like whetting your appetite, is there?

The first thing to be released in support of the album is a video Triptych of the first three tracks from the album ‘Quorum,’ ‘Dancing And Blood’ and ‘Fly.’ The electronics may through some off at first, but persevere: it all makes sense…

That album tracklisting is as follows:

1. Quorum
2. Dancing and Blood
3. Fly
4. Tempest
5. Always Up
6. Always Trying to Work It Out
7. The Son, The Sun
8. Dancing and Fire
9. Poor Sucker
10. Rome (Always in the Dark)
11. Disarray

The band will begin a world tour in the UK next week:

19 Jun – Leeds, UK – Brudenell Social Club
20 Jun – London, UK – Queen Elizabeth Hall (Robert Smith’s Meltdown Festival)
23 Jun – Duisburg, Germany – Traumzeit festival
25 Jun – Munich, Germany – Ampere
26 Jun – Dresden, Germany – Beatpol
29 Jun – Bialystok, Poland – Amphitheater of the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic (Halfway Music Festival!)
20 Sep – New York, NY – National Sawdust
21 Sep – New York, NY – National Sawdust
29 Sep – Lisbon, PT – Lisboa ao Vivo
01 Oct – De Compostela Santiago, ES- Sala Capitol
02 Oct – Madrid, ES- Sala But
03 Oct – Barcelona, ES- Fabra i Coats
05 Oct – Milan, IT – Teatro Dal Verme
06 Oct – Zurich, CH- Bogen F
08 Oct – Leipzig, DE- Conne Island
09 Oct – Berlin, DE – Festsaal Kreuzberg
11 Oct – Brussels, BE – Orangerie (at Botanique)
12 Oct – Amsterdam, NL – Paradiso
13 Oct – Paris, FR – La Gai?te? Lyrique
15 Oct – Bristol, UK – Trinity
16 Oct – Manchester, UK – Manchester Cathedral
17 Oct – Dublin, IE – Vicar Street
02 Nov – St. Paul, MN – The Fitz
03 Nov – Davenport, IA – Daytrotter
05 Nov – Detroit, MI – El Club
06 Nov – Toronto, ON – Great Hall
08 Nov – Montreal, QC – La Sala Rosa
09 Nov – Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall
10 Nov – Philadelphia, PA – Underground Arts
12 Nov – Washington, DC U Street Music Hall
13 Nov – Pittsburgh, PA – The Funhouse
14 Nov – Cleveland, OH – Grog Shop
16 Nov – Chicago, IL – Rockefeller Chapel
17 Nov – Madison, WI – High Noon Saloon

Christmas Posts 2013 part 11

lowxmas

I was trudging around a major supermarket this evening, picking up a few items before heading off to pick up Mrs 17 Seconds and our son. To my amazement, and delight the song that came over the tanoy was Low’s ‘Just Like Christmas.’

Low’s Christmas album is one of those albums that gets rolled out in the ‘Christmas can be cool, honestly’ for those people who feel the need to do do (I wish they wouldn’t, it suggests an urge to conform and be smug and superior that’s really quite wrong). It has, rightly, become a classic, ahead of Christmas box sets from Sufjan Stevens and the new Bright Eyes Christmas album. The NME review from 1999 is actually spot on.

And the opening track ‘Just Like Christmas’ owes just as much to Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound as it does to Low’s general greatness. I don’t think they made an official video, but it doesn’t matter. If you still haven’t bought it, go and do so. Sure the whole album is different to this, but it is a brilliant album. Take my word for it.

Snow Patrol have covered it, too:

Can’t find a video for it, but ‘If You Were Here Today’ from the album has been covered by Jimmy Eat World.

Album Review: Low

low_theinvisibleway_albumcover_small_1357736189_crop_550x550

Low -‘The Invisible Way’ (Subpop)

This year Low celebrate twenty years together as a band, and The Invisible Way is their tenth album. Recorded with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy in the producer’s chair, as you’ve almost certainly been aware of for months now, the big issue will be: how does it differ from previous Low records?

In the pre-release bumpf that has come ahead of the release, Low’s frontman Alan Sparhawk has made the three points about how he sees it differing:

– Mimi sings lead on five of the eleven songs (she usually only does one or two, despite being a fan favorite).
– Piano, lots of piano… and an acoustic guitar.
– Songs about intimacy, the drug war, the class war, plain old war war, archeology, and love.

Mind you, John Peel used to say about The Fall that they were always different and always the same. The above points are all true, but it doesn’t stop it from sounding like Low. Indeed, the only band who have come close to sounding like Low are eagleowl.

Low were sometimes described as being ‘sadcore’ and there are moments like the opening ‘Plastic Cup’ where they seem to be dwelling on the futility of existence ‘Now they make you piss into a plastic cup…the cup will probably be here long after we’re gone.’ I have no idea what this references, yet somehow it’s achingly beautiful. And there’s always a surprise element to Low as well. Just as the opening salvo of ‘Monkey’ and ‘California’ indicated that they were not making another album that sounded like Things We Lost In The Fire or Trust on The Great Destroyer back in 2005, so here the intoning of ‘Happy Birthday Happy Birthday! Happy Birthday!’ on the penultimate ‘On My Own’ seems almost incongruous – yet strangely, just like Low.

Long may they be Low. And long may they surprise and delight us.

****

The Invisible Way is out now on Subpop

Low -‘So Blue.’ mp3

Low -‘Just Make It Stop.’ mp3

The return of Low

low_theinvisibleway_albumcover_small_1357736189_crop_550x550

Well, it’s only the second week of January, and already it’s looking like being an awesome year for music.

Not only have releases from Suede and David Bowie been announced this week (just in case you’ve been under a rock), but Low are celebrating their twentieth anniversary as a band with the release of their tenth album The Invisible Way.

They have released a free mp3 of ‘Just Make It Stop’ which you can get below:

Released on March 18, the tracklisting is as follows:

Plastic Cup
Amethyst
So Blue
Holy Ghost
Waiting
Clarence White
Four Score
Just Make It Stop
Mother
On My Own
To Our Knees

The band are also touring Europe in April and May:

April
24 – Birmingham, UK – Glee Club
25 – Manchester, UK – Central Methodist Hall
26 – Gateshead, UK – The Sage Gateshead
27 – Glasgow, UK – Classic Grand
29 – Bristol, UK – Trinity
30 – London, UK – Barbican Centre

May
2 – Copehnhagen, Denmark – Loppen
3 – Stockholm, Sweden – Debaser
4 – Oslo, Norway – Bla
7 – Paris, France – La Maroquinerie
8 – Brussels, Belgium – Cirque Royal – Nuits Botanique
9 – Amsterdam, The Netherlands – Paradiso De Duif
10 – Frankfurt, Germany – Zoom
11 – Bologna, Italy – Teatro Antoniano
13 – Barcelona, Spain – Casino de la Alianca
14 – Valencia, Spain – Teatro La Rambleta
15 – Zaragoza, Spain – Teatro de las Esquina
16 – Madrid, Spain – Joy Eslava
17 – Valladolid, Spain – Lava
18 – Biarritz, France – Atabal

They also released this free EP just before Christmas, in case you missed it:

Christmas Posts 2011 #14

lowpub1cropa

Tis the season to do wayyyy too much.

Today’s special is Low’s opening number from their mighty fine Christmas album (go and buy it, it’s awesome), and some cover versions of it.

Low -‘Just Like Christmas.’ mp3

Aberdeen City -‘Just Like Christmas.’ mp3

Snow Patrol -‘Just Like Christmas.’ mp3

Kill It Kid -‘Just Like Christmas.’ mp3

..and because it is the season of goodwill:

Snow Patrol -‘When I Get Home For Christmas.’ mp3

Snow Patrol -‘Crazy in Love.’ mp3 (yes, that one!)

Album review – Low

low-cmon

Low – C’Mon (Sub Pop)

I don’t know quite what it was, but -despite my best efforts – I never connected with Low’s last album, Drums & Guns. A shame, because records like Things We Lost In The Fire, The Great Destroyer and (perhaps to a lesser extent), Trust had been an important part of the soundtrack to my life for the previous few years.

So it is a great relief to find that this is another Low album to be able to fall in love with. Low may be a cult act but an established enough one that each album release is still an event (see also Yo La Tengo etc..) to a not insignificant amount of people. Low’s music has been described as slowcore, sadcore…call it what you will (and only eagleowl have ever come close to being able to capture what makes Low so special). The album opens with the gorgeous lullaby ‘Try To Sleep’ (as a new Dad that’s just so, so appropriate right now!) It sets the tone for an album that is sad and reflective in the best possible way, without being self-indulgent or -and here’s the really clever part – being depressing.

Ten tracks long, and with hardly a duff moment, it’s classic Low, and a gorgeous listen. Long may they run.

****

C’Mon is out now on Sub Pop.

Low -‘Try To Sleep.’ mp3

Christmas posts part 3

edinburgh-snow-wide

Hello again, and greetings from a very snowy Scotland, where driving has become an occupational hazard you endure to get to work.

For today’s Christmas post, I’m going to share with you three very different versions of of ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ -and none of them involving David Bowie and a worryingly ill looking Bing Crosby.

The first, rocky, version is by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, taken from her album I Love Rock’n’Roll. This was actually on the original version of the album (in the US) and later replaced by another track called ‘Oh Woe Is Me.’ Funny fact: I heard this for the very first time today (see, I said I was going to post some christmas stuff I hadn’t posted here before).

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts -‘Little Drummer Boy.’ mp3

Next up: the Dandy Warhols’ upbeat take on the song. Funnily enough the very first time I ever heard the Dandy Warhols doing anything was a version of this song, as played by John Peel in December 1994. This version comes from the compilation A Cool, Cool Christmas.

Dandy Warhols -‘Little Drummer Boy.’ mp3

Finally, Low’s take on this perennial favourite is slower than the other two (as you’d probably expect, if you’re familiar with all these acts). This is taken from their Christmas album, which is now over a decade old, and makes a regular appearance around 17 Seconds Towers at this time of year…

Low -‘Little Drummer Boy.’ mp3

Keep warm now, kids…

…so that was the noughties!

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Tippi the cat wearily surveys the vinyl from her perch

There are pedantic sods out there who will say that the next decade doesn’t start until 2011…umm, too bad.

It’s been a busy decade with highs and lows, and soundtracked by some amazing stuff. Odd, considering that at the start of 2000, I was wondering whether I was being left behing as I failed to get into Nu-metal or garage. Thankfully, there’s been lots of brilliant stuff.

So…

Highs: Getting married; moving to Scotland; being my brother’s best man at his wedding; becoming an uncle; getting cats; finally getting to work in a record shop; the invention of the iPod; meeting wonderful new friends in Scotland; the critical re-evaluation of The Cure; starting a blog that’s allowed me to interview people and get free music and into gigs for free; getting a Masters Degree; becoming a fully qualified teacher; Edinburgh’s music scene flourishing; getting to DJ again; going to New York -twice!; seeing my brother’s career in comedy and acting take off; the resurgence of post-punk and its’ infleunce on contemporary indie; setting up my own record label; Obama’s election; Great TV in the form of Life On Mars, The Office, CSI; ‘world’ cinema playing in multiplexes; successfully giving up smoking and drinking; nights out in Edinburgh and Glasgow; The Wire magazine; American Hip Hop and R&B; Grime; Dubstep; Kate Bush finally releasing a new album; finally having my own car; getting to see the likes of the Pixies (twice!), Blondie, Television (Twice!), Dead Kennedys, Julian Cope, Elvis Costello, Nick Cave (also twice!), Morrissey (three times), U2, Lou Reed…

Lows: Death of our beloved Jake the cat; black dog; the NME’s decline for much of the decade; people who showed they could not be trusted; the loss of three music venues in Edinburgh (La Belle Angele, The Venue, The Liquid Rooms); Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; Labour letting us down; George W. Bush’s administration impacting on life here; the BNP; Tommy Sheridan proving to be human after all; the frightening prospect of a Tory Victory in 2010; the continued existence of racism, homophobia and domestic violence (and fuckwits who label any attempt to challenge this as political correctness gone mad)…

There’s been so much music that it’s hard to rank it all – this is just a handful of what’s floated my boat this decade.

The Delgados -‘No Danger.’ mp3

Gnarls Barkley -‘Crazy.’ mp3

The Bug -‘Angry.’ mp3

CSS – ‘Let’s Make Love and Listen To Death From Above.’ mp3

Franz Ferdinand -‘Shopping For Blood.’ mp3

Beyonce -‘Crazy In Love.’ mp3

LCD Soundsystem -‘Losing My Edge.’ mp3

Burial -‘Archangel.’ mp3

Santogold -‘My Superman.’ mp3

Low – ‘California.’ mp3

>Usher -‘Yeah.’ mp3

The Rapture – ‘House Of Jealous Lovers.’ mp3

Radio 4 -‘Dance To the Underground.’ mp3

Interpol -‘NYC.’ mp3

Missy Elliott -‘Get UR Freak On.’ mp3

Estelle -‘American Boy (featuring Kanye West).’ mp3

Skream -‘Midnight Request Line.’ mp3

This is by no means a complete list; I’ve intentionally left out anything from this year. The list could also include M.I.A.; White Stripes; Strokes; Yeah Yeah Yeahs; The Libertines; Dizzee Dascal; Arctic Monkeys; Outkast; System Of A Down; Calexico; Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy; Kylie; Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds… and many of the scottish bands I’ve championed – and those I have signed.

Happy New Year!

xx

Just Like Christmas

lowpub1cropa

Low’s Christmas album is now ten years old, and has certainly become widely loved in that time; deservedly so. There is probably an argument for saying that ‘Just Like Christmas’ may be one of their best known songs.

To that end, there are several covers that are doing the rounds. Snow Patrol and Aberdeen City’s covers have been circulating for a few years; but Kill It Kid’s version is new this year, as a free download.

See what you make of these. Then go and buy Christmas, and indeed, pretty much as much of the Low back catalogue as you can get your hands on. I haven’t heard the Kill It Kid album yet…but I’d like to…

Low -‘Just Like Christmas.’ mp3

Snow Patrol -‘Just Like Christmas.’ mp3

Aberdeen City -‘Just Like Christmas.’ mp3

Kill It Kid -‘Just Like Christmas.’ mp3