We here in Santa Barbara have it lucky, particularly in the area of weather. Any native Californian probably thinks that a 50 degree day sounds rather cold. The members of the band Low, who hail from Duluth, Minn., would probably scoff at our observation.
Low, a slow core band hailing from the frigid icy tundra known to Westerners as Minnesota, have been around since 1994, formed as a sort of alternative to grunge. To date, they have achieved their biggest success when their slowed down and somewhat creepy version of the classic Christmas song “Little Drummer Boy” was featured in a Gap ad. Low continue their methodical march through indie rock on The Great Destroyer.
The very beginning of the album lives up to the album’s title. There’s an immediate immersion of bass distortion and brooding guitar lines reminiscent of the distortion-laden effects of The Jesus and Mary Chain. On “Monkey,” husband and wife combo Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker match vocals with the mood of the music chanting, “Tonight you will be mine / Tonight the monkey dies.” The band even has fun playing around with our emotions. “When I Go Deaf” at first seems to be a peaceful lament about becoming older: “I’ll stay out all night / Looking at the sky.” Sparhawk and Parker lull us into a false sense of security, and then deliver a musical punch in the face with the raucous bass guitar playing of Zak Sally.
Low proves that, sometimes, softer can be better. If cold weather does cause bands to be this inventive, let’s hope summer doesn’t come too soon in Duluth.
[Brad Vargyas earns 10, nay 100 bonus points for his The Jesus and Mary Chain reference.]