Recently lauded by the beardy monthlies and yet another astute signing for the Bella Union label, The Low Anthem have the capacity to become your new favourite band. ‘Oh My God, Charlie Darwin’, their most recent album, is the most diverse collection of songs they’ve committed to wax and combines some of the most beautifully delicate folk music with tracks that emulate that constipated-seal-at-a-barn-dance sound that Tom Waits had nailed a few years back. Mix in a bit of late Sixties/early Seventies Dylan and you’re getting somewhere close. Hailing from Rhode Island, Ben Knox Miller, Jeff Prystowsky and Jocie Adams haven’t quite sprung up as quickly as it seems.
Their debut album, ‘The Low Anthem’, was released in 2006 and is long out of print and, sadly, very much out of my grasp. All the more of a pity because, were it still available, I would have been giving my money direct to the band. In a not dissimilar fashion to the first act covered as part of Futuremusic, Tom Williams & The Boat, The Low Anthem took to releasing and selling their material themselves. Knowing this, I got in touch with them and enquired about the debut, only to receive this polite and rather humorous response, “that record is sadly not available, but we will let it know you called.”
This charming and oh-so-very-splendid approach to customer service and fan interaction are yet more reasons for their inclusion in the Futuremusic feature. Their second album, ‘What The Crow Brings’, has thus far received very little attention, despite it being arguably better than ‘OMGCD‘. Less varied than the recent album (which is to say no later period Tom Waits influence) but no less beautifully made, ‘What The Crow Brings’ is currently the best album I’ve heard this year. Quite apart from buggering up my end of year lists, it is a subtle, understated performance for anyone who likes keening vocals, layered acoustic intensity and melodies that slowly hijack your everyday thought processes. You can hear this whole album on Spotify right now. ‘Oh My God Charlie Darwin’ is also on there in its 2009, Bella Union reissue with bonus track guise.
Should you like what you hear, you can order the albums direct from the band themselves and you’ll receive an immediate download of the music as part of the deal. The hand-painted copies of ‘What The Crow Brings’ are really rather lovely and, despite saying they’re currently out of stock, the service is pretty darn quick. I wouldn’t hang around though, as the hand-painted copies of ‘OMGCD’ seem to have already run out and the momentum behind this lot does seem to be gathering.