Something Else! sneak peek: The Low Anthem – Smart Flesh (2011)

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By Mark Saleski

It was about two years ago that me and TheWife™ went to a folk-ish show in the unassuming function hall of a local church. The band was The Low Anthem. We had never heard of them but not long into the set, in the middle of a song called “This God Damn House,” we turned toward each other, nodded, and then gave in to the out-of-body experience that was building. The band was comprised of three musicians (Ben Knox Miller, Jocie Adams, Jeff Prystowsky) playing numerous instruments including pump organ, crotales, bass, guitar, horns. Oh, and then there were the incredible, joy-inducing vocal harmonies. The music, a combination of folk, blues, old-timey, and gospel, was indescribably beautiful.

We came out of that hall completely buzzed, amazed both at our good fortune and at the odd fact that nobody we knew had ever heard of this band. I bought up everything that I could, which turned out to be the pair of discs What The Crow Brings, and Oh My God, Charlie Darwin. The Low Anthem shot straight to the top of my bands deserving wider recognition list.

And then a strange thing happened…wider recognition! Since the spring of 2009, they have done a lot of touring, having shared bills with the likes of Ray Lamontagne, Iron & Wine, and Emmylou Harris. They were eventually signed by Nonesuch records. I was stunned and very happy for them.

In the winter of 2009, the band began working on material for their next album with new member (Mat Davidson) and new recording space (in an old pasta sauce factory in Central Falls, Rhode Island). Smart Flesh extends the Low Anthem sonic palette with instruments such as the jaw harp and the musical saw, while retaining their now-familiar intimate and thoughtful vibe. If you liked Charlie Darwin, you’ll love this recording.

The Low Anthem played “Ghost Woman Blues” last night on David Letterman’s Late Show. You know, some people are disappointed when their favorite unknown band makes the “big time.” Me? I want music that resonates to make its way to as many curious ears as possible.

Smart Flesh will be released on February 22, 2011. Preorders are available here.

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mark Saleski
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