Watching The Low Anthem perform in studio was like entering a transcendent reality. They stopped in on Sunday morning, the final day of Lollapalooza and a morning that greeted most of HearYa with paralyzing hangovers. Somehow we each managed to put down a 32 oz Gatorade and a couple Jimmy Dean sausage biscuits prior to the band’s arrival, which provided just enough energy to load in gear that included a pump organ, clarinet, crotales, upright bass, alto horn, a couple guitars and a few harmonicas. Several of these instruments were completely foreign to me, which only added to the mystical allure of The Low Anthem.
We hustled around to get the cameras in place while The Low Anthem warmed up, singing familiar lines “Oh my god, the water’s all around us. Oh my god, it’s all around” from the song “Charlie Darwin.” Everyone in the studio stopped in their tracks to listen. Those sorrowful lyrics floated around a room that was custom built for sound and I knew immediately that this session would be special. And it was.
The session starts with “Ticket Taker,” featuring Ben Miller on acoustic guitar, Jeff Prystowsky on upright bass and Jocie Adams on clarinet. Ben remains on lead vocals, but that’s the only constant. Each band member seems equally comfortable with any instrument in their arsenal. “Charlie Darwin” follows with Jocie moving over to the crotales, an instrument that amazes me. Then, one of my favorite tracks from What The Crow Brings emerges in “This God Damn House.” Ben starts off with his alto horn while Jeff gets the feet moving on the pump organ. We were all taken by surprise when Ben stepped away from the mic to grab his cell phone. We started switching cameras from him, assuming he had pressing business that required an urgent text message. But then he grabbed a second phone and lifted them up as he whistled to create a spectral sound to finish the song.
The band brings a focused energy and intensity to their craft and Ben comes across like a quiet perfectionist that wants each note to sound just right. The Low Anthem return from touring abroad to bring their music stateside alongside Blind Pilot. Check out their MySpace page for dates.
Video: The Low Anthem – This God Damn House