Rather than a Top 5 per se, Kieran offers 5 arbitrary songs by “his favourite band” Low
You know when you see an awesome lineup for a festival, with more of your favourite bands playing than you can shake a stick at, all on the same weekend? And as the weeks pass and the festival draws nearer, you start to realise, “hang on – there’s actually more bands on than I can possibly listen to in a row”. And you start to realise something’s got to go. And you end up not going to see, say, your second-favourite band ever, cos you saw them once before (and they were amazing).
I kinda feel like that in the run up to a Low gig, like the one next Wednesday in Cyprus Avenue. With a 9-album-strong back catalogue and countless EPs, collections and live albums, the question is really what songs we won’t get to hear. You start to pin your hopes on a few songs. The good news is – if past performances are anything to go by – whatever the setlist on Wednesday, it will be quality. Disappointment is not an option.
So here’s 5 songs which you couldn’t call a ‘Top 5’, but each represent something great about the band. So to it:
Not like the Bobby Brown track of the same name, but like ‘(That’s How You Sing) Amazing Grace’ on Trust, ‘Candy Girl’ takes its time to make its point. Like ‘Silver Rider’ on The Great Destroyer, this is ominous as hell.
Try To Sleep
Low are well able to put out a track worthy of being called a single. ‘California’, ‘Monkey’, ‘Canada’ – all radio-friendly unit shifters in an alternate universe. Or ‘Try To Sleep’ – almost upbeat for Low, this melody is the lead from their most recent album, their best album since the one just before it. (I love that a “return” to form is a meaningless concept for them.)
Mimi Parker, her close harmonies and her slowed-down take on the Bobby Gillespie school of drumming, is central to what keeps Low interesting. Here’s one of the tracks where her voice is centre-stage, and brings out the devotional nature of their music.
When I Go Deaf
At the heart of everything Low do, however, is Alan Sparhawk’s ability to take a few simple chords and build a cathedral in which to tell a devastating story. You see that on songs like ‘Death of a Salesman’, or this… great when things kick up 2:45 in (but you have to listen to the whole thing to get the impact).
Down by the River
Low can be full of surprises – fascinating side projects like Retribution Gospel Choir, Black-Eyed Snakes; remix albums; an actually decent Christmas album; and joint efforts such as one with Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Here’s a great, typically unhurried retelling of the Neil Young classic from their 1999 Dirty Three collaboration in a Dutch studio. And since we’re wishing, might as well wish for a surprise guest encore featuring Ellis, White and Turner. To play us out, so to speak.
Low play The Button Factory, Dublin, July 10th & Cyprus Avenue, Cork July 11th