Low and Behold
Published April 14, 2010
THE LOW ANTHEM; PHOTO BY RYAN MASTRO
“It was really cold,” recounts Jeff Prystowsky, describing The Low Anthem’s time recording in a Central Falls, RI pasta sauce factory in forty-degree weather. The indie-folk quartet–which includes genre-defying multi-instrumentalist Prystowsky, his fellow Brown University grads Ben Knox Miller and Jocie Adams, and Annie and the Beekeepers alum Mat Davidson–has been wielding raw, otherworldly melodies since 2006, and has just wrapped up an untitled third album, to be released this September.
With Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello as fans, it’s hard to imagine why these Ivy Leaguers–they got their name from Ayn Rand’s dystopian novella Anthem–would endure broken glass, death waivers, and uncomfortably cold temperatures for the six-week recording stint. It turns out locally-sponsored pizza and beer, and an affinity for challenging circumstances, can go a long way. “At first it was really difficult, but after a while, you work with the cold–it slows your hands down, but you play simpler lines. After a while I just called it ‘the lick-buster,’ because I couldn’t play my usual licks under those conditions.”
Soulful ballads like “Apothecary” and “Maybe So,” a track they nailed down on the first take, shuttle listeners back to a place shared by the likes of Bon Iver and The Band. “This album is really unique, because the sound of the abandoned factory building has colored all the tracks in a very unique way–we just used the reverb that was in the room. It sounds like we’re in this huge space, on every track. You can kind of hear that month we were in the abandoned factory building. And that’s kind of how I feel when I put it on. Like there I am, back on that island again…”
THE LOW ANTHEM PLAYS BOWERY BALLROOM TONIGHT AT 7:30 PM AND THE BELL HOUSE APRIL 16th AT 8 PM.