Alan Sparhawk

Low, Live at the Doug Fir

Before we went on our holiday break, we were fortunate enough to catch one of our longtime favorites at Portland’s best venue, when Low came to town to play the Doug Fir basement.  It is always a treat to see Low play a show, but we were especially eager to witness one of the best albums of the year performed live.  The band indulged us by performing a setlist that heavily featured their latest album, Ones and Sixes, and we are glad to report that the new material sounds just as great live as it does on record.

Taking advantage of a break in the crowd.

Taking advantage of a break in the crowd.

The show started off with the one-two punch of the glitchy “Gentle” and the deliberate “No Comprende” that kick off their latest release, which segued nicely into the menacing and electric “Monkey” from The Great Destroyer.  While it seems that most critics had forgotten about Low’s previous album, it was nice to see that the band had not.  The main set included a run of The Invisible Way tracks that showed off many of the band’s best assets, from Mimi Parker’s gorgeous vocals on “Holy Ghost” to the distorted dissonance of Alan Sparhawk’s fiery guitar on “On My Own” to the group’s sense of irony and humor in “Plastic Cup” (with Steve Garrington ably shuffling between bass and keys throughout, a key if underrated part of the band’s sound).

The group held off from any stage banter for most of the night, before Alan praised the city near the end of the show.  At one point, the crowd began to clap when only the slightest shuffle could be heard from Mimi’s drums, and those close enough to the stage could hear her remark to Alan that “they don’t even know what song it is yet”, but on the whole the band let their music speak for itself.  The main set ended with the epic “Landslide”, just as we had predicted from our review of the album, and it was just as amazing as we had hoped.  Though the encore did not end up including a couple of our old favorites, many in the crowd were ecstatic to hear “Words” from their early album I Could Live In Hope, while “Murderer” from Drums and Guns proved to be a perfect closer.

A colorful view of the band

A colorful view of the band

Unfortunately, we missed nearly all of opener Andy Shauf’s set, due to Portland’s complete stupidity when it comes to creating a reasonable parking system.  It is difficult enough parking on the East Side on a Friday night, but with many spots blocked off for the shooting of the television show Grimm, it made it impossible to find a spot anywhere near the venue.  However, from the one song I heard, it seems that Shauf’s spare and haunting sound was a good fit for the main act.

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Catching Up On The Week (Oct. 9 Edition)

Some #longreads that have been carefully selected for your reading pleasure…

We have spent the week blasting Deafheaven’s excellent new album, New Bermuda, over and over again.  Before you read our review of the album next week, we recommend you check out this interview with the band from VH-1, which goes into great detail about the making of the follow-up to the universally-acclaimed Sunbather.

Before Elliott Smith became a beloved solo artist, his music career began as a member of the up-and-coming Portland rock band Heatmiser.  Though the group is largely seen as a footnote to Smith’s career, they had a solid career in their own right, and are set to be inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame this weekend.  David Greenwald of The Oregonian catches up for a rare interview with the other members of Heatmiser for a look back at their career.

Alan Sparhawk from Low talks to The Skinny in a deeply personal interview, and reveals among other things the meaning behind the title Ones and Sixes.  For the record, we were on the right track with our guess about minimums and maximums in our review of the album, though we were off on the specific reference.  Another follow-up worth checking out is this Vox interview with John Seabrook, author of The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory, which provides additional anecdotes about the mysterious mega-successful songwriter Max Martin.

Next week sees the release of Deerhunter’s Fading Frontier, and Bradford Cox once again provides an entertaining interview, this time with Observer.

Finally, we have our usual anniversary pieces.  First, Allmusic interviews singer Ed Kowalczyk about his former band Live’s massively successful Throwing Copper, and about his current solo acoustic tour in celebration of the album.  We are guessing that many of you did not realize that Ed had left the group, and to be honest, we did not know this either.  Then you can finish up with this look back at another huge album from 1995, Tragic Kingdom from No Doubt.  If anything, this gives you a chance to sing “Just a Girl” and “Don’t Speak” in your bedroom as loud as you can.

Over the Weekend (Oct. 5 Edition)

News, new music, and other fun stuff to help kickoff your week…

We linked to multiple articles about Radiohead’s Kid A on Friday, so naturally we have another piece related to the band today.  Diffuser has a slideshow attempting to come up with a suitable American version of Radiohead, and to their credit, they think outside the box of “a few dudes with guitars”, though we are sure their choices would cause some amount of debate.

Bloc Party is set to release a new album entitled Hymns next year, and today they released the first track from the record.  Since Four, the band has shuffled their lineup a bit, including adding Justin Harris of Menomena to the group, and the electronic-influenced “The Love Within” is our first glimpse at the result.

Run The Jewels released a new single this week, sharing the gritty track “Rubble Kings Theme (Dynamite)” from the documentary Rubble Kings.

The title for Best Example of Clickbait from last week was the announcement that scientists have determined Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as the most iconic song of all time.  Certainly there is more to the story, but feel free to argue among yourselves as to whether or not the result makes sense.

There are a couple of great interviews that we recommend for your perusal this week.  First, Alan Sparhawk of Low talks to The Quietus about the band’s career in a serious and insightful discussion, and then you can lighten things up with the always entertaining Jesse Hughes from Eagles of Death Metal, who opens up to Consequence of Sound about his various personal contradictions.

We linked to a couple of clips of this show a couple of weeks back, but now feel free to rock out to the full concert footage of the supergroup performance of The Stooges’s iconic album Raw Power, featuring Mark Arm, Mike McCready, Duff McKagan, and Barrett Martin performing on the rooftop of Pike Place Market.

Finally, we recommend you check out this Tiny Desk Concert from our newest favorite Greek musician, Lianne LaHavas, who possesses a gorgeous voice that should help brighten up your week.