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December 8th, 2010 CASEY JARMAN | Music Stories
 

Primer: Low

     
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Formed: 1993 in Duluth, Minn.

Members: Guitarist-vocalist Alan Sparhawk, drummer-vocalist Mimi Parker, bassist Steve Garrington.

Sounds like: Drowning in the Great Lakes; a family of Quakers getting drunk on whiskey for the first time and forming an indie-rock band.

For fans of: Red House Painters, Leonard Cohen, Portishead, Dolorean, Menomena, Neil Young, Spiritualized.

Latest release: Is still 2007’s Drums and Guns, which feels like Low’s belated answer to Radiohead’s Kid A—all trippy organic samples and odd angles.

Why you care: Because this band has never put out a shitty album, and it has never lost track of its singular muse. Though Low’s songs can be almost suicidally slow and barren at times, Sparhawk and Parker (who are married with children and Mormon, to boot) are magicians of vocal harmony and sparse orchestration, weaving Zen lyrics into buzzing death marches that make Minnesota seem even colder and sadder than it actually is. In person, Low is warm and funny—a lighter side that only occasionally comes through in the trio’s songs (see “Santa’s Coming Over,” a tune the band will surely play on this special holiday tour). Low is ostensibly touring on Christmas, a recently reissued-on-vinyl collection of gorgeous holiday tunes originally released in 1999. And really, no one captures the mournful, bleak spirit of the holidays quite like Low.


SEE IT: Low plays Saturday, Dec. 11, at Mississippi Studios, with Charlie Parr. 9 pm. $16 advance. 21+.
 
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