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Music Review: The Low Anthem – Oh My God, Charlie Darwin

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The Low Anthem isn’t your typical band. Sure, all three band members (Ben Knox Miller, Jeff Prystowsky, and Jocie Adams) come from Providence, Rhode Island which might provide a partial explanation.

But only the love for music could explain how a baseball, jazz, and American history scholar (Prystowsky), a NASA technician (Adams), and a painter (Miller) got together to make their brand of blues and folk — which is a long way from their classical music roots.

The Low Anthem‘s third album Oh My God, Charlie Darwin is consistent in its introspective approach to remind the world there remains beauty and serenity. Part of this success comes from the album being recorded in a distant cabin on Block Island, Rhode Island.

The Low AnthemYou could easily get lost in the trio’s melancholy with songs like the opening “Charlie Darwin” and the lover’s lamenting “To Ohio,” but they refuse to stay quiet for long on more rowdy numbers like the cover of “Home I’ll Never Be” (Jack Kerouac and Tom Waits) and “The Horizon Is A Beltway.”

As versatile as it is, the band triumphs more on the slow quiet minimalist folk songs like the haunting “Ticket Taker” and the Jakob Dylan-like “To The Ghosts Who Write History Books.” The latter is depressing, if not tragic, with a melody that fills the cracks of loss and sadness with feelings of hope: “Please take along all the best of my luck and come back unchanged / Your demons all tamed / Your flowers uncut.”

Much of the band’s success stems from their down-to-earth sensibility. Acting as their own agent to book shows, the band maintains a strong work ethic to keep them grounded, which Miller recounts, “we learned from all that grassroots sweat how the business side works. So we never had to rely on anyone but the community to come out. It’s been natural and very human” (press release).

The Low Anthem’s Oh My God, Charlie Darwin is a lovely album that yearns to be played while on the porch as the sun sets.

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About Tan The Man

Tan The Man writes mostly about film and music. He has previously covered events like Noise Pop, Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, South By Southwest, TBD Festival, Wizard World Comic Con and WonderCon.
  • yeah, albums coming along for the rest of the year are going to have to try really hard to knock off this record as my favorite album of 2009

  • Hoover Pendleton

    Haunting and stomping on the same album – this is fantastic. And I’ll give a plug for their first disc as well – less stomping, but still great.