So, usually this blog is broadly reserved for the purpose of championing the unheard and overlooked delights in our modern, musical melting pot. The birth of broadband and the falling costs of technology have led to an explosion of output as artists, freed from the necessity of distributing their products through labels, have wallowed in glorious creative freedom.
Even my borderline obsessive compulsive behaviour cannot cover everything and I never aim to be comprehensive, more wildly biased and occasionally entertaining – like Fox news but without the narrow-minded, fear-mongering, hate-filled bile.
As such, I occasionally become distracted by music that I like that isn’t made by some brand new wunderkind. This tends to affect the output of the fortnightly playlists (free to all reasonably-minded people here) but in a break with tradition I’ve decided to celebrate some returning heroes.
The Low Anthem is really two guys, Ben Knox Miller and Jeff Prystowsky, and a bunch of varying but excellent cast members. They make music that sounds like the dying embers of a campfire: warm and grizzled and broken but alive, and haven’t been seen in the UK in four years. In the interim they did produce a film soundtrack but the announcements of new UK tour dates (over the next two days) caused much excitement in my household – and then much disappointment when it was once again irrefutably proved that I’m lazier and less organised than most. Since then, I’ve sought solace in the dreamy, lo-fi somnambulance that is The Pepsi Moon:
It’d be completely remiss of me to not mention Anais Mitchell’s frankly astonishing record Hadestown, which all of The Low Anthem appear upon , as it currently tears it up somewhere off-Broadway. It is truly one of the most remarkable records of recent years:
Will Sheff is one of the finest song writers of his generation. Writing great lyrics is hard. Coming up with a musical arrangement which is innovative but sounds classic is nigh impossible. Combining these with being one of the best live bands in the world should be borderline illegal. Okkervil River are all of these and, god bless them, have a brand new record coming out in the Autumn. The first track, Okkervil River R.I.P. is gorgeous, heartfelt and cunningly smart. So, everything I hoped for:
There’s so much good OR out there but I’d start with The Stage Names, Black Sheep Boy and The Overboard and Down EP (I can picture various friends of mine shaking their heads at my stupidity right now which should tell you just how good these folks are) Here’s three minutes that makes my own, petty creative urges shrivel up with envy:
Both Okkervil River and The Low Anthem feature on the latest Skewed Quiff, which is worth an hour of anyone’s lifetime: