The Low Anthem

After a devastating accident while touring in 2016 that left their gear and instruments destroyed; and Jeff Prystowsky hospitalized for weeks, Ben Knox Miller became immersed in a fable about a salt doll that slowly dissolves back into the ocean but achieves a sense of being. That’s a pretty heady subject for someone who almost just met their maker in a very sudden manner.

As Prystowsky recuperated, Miller started demoing out the framework of a concept album based on this fable with the instruments lying around his house. The result is a stark and beautiful album. The album mixes in electronic elements to the folk that The Low Anthem is known for; immediately reminding me of Grandaddy.

As nice as those elements are, my favorite aspect of The Low Anthem is when they keep it simple. Over the course of the first part of the album, Give My Body Back a track that mixes a bouncy piano riff with the sound of an old vinyl record spinning is the highlight along with Toowee Toowee. The latter features Ben’s whispered falsetto.

On the back end, Cy Twombly By Campfire is a real nice track. It has a real glitchy feel to it, almost as if the track is being constantly interrupted. That’s followed by the lovely and understated Godwanaland. And they close it out beautifully with Final Transmission from the Diving Bell.

Admittedly I was lukewarm on Eyeland. There were parts of it I liked and parts of it that missed the mark in my opinion. I understand that Ben & Jeff don’t want to keep on making the same album over and over again. Salt Doll does a great job of connecting to the core of what drew to them in the first place while introducing some new elements.

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The Low Anthem is here


The Low Anthem – Eyeland (album review)

by Woody on June 27, 2016


It’s been five long years since The Low Anthem blew our doors off with Smart Flesh . It was one of our favorites albums this year and like their prior efforts, has held up very well. It also led to this stellar session later that year.

Since that time, Mat and Jocie left the band, leaving Ben Knox Miller and Jeff Prystowsky to soldier on. Instead of moving on to a new album, Ben and Jeff threw themselves into the creation of Eyeland Studios, re-purposing the obsolete Columbus Theatre for their use. Somewhere during that time, the genesis of this album started, beginning as a “vague and rather abstract” short story by co-founder/singer/guitarist Ben Knox Miller, based around the “sonic mythology of a moth’s dreams.” But the studio started gaining some notoriety and musicians were eager to get in there to record which led to the album being shelved, or “incubated” as Miller puts it. Throughout all this, Ben & Jeff learned about the sonic capabilities of the space and began experimenting. And as they note in their bio, The Low Anthem never really take the direct route in anything they do.

So, long story short, this album is more than a collection of songs. It is 5 years worth of experimentation mixed with some hard work and perseverance that signals the rebirth of this band. Is it my favorite Low Anthem album? No, they’d be hard pressed to out-do Smart Flesh in my humble opinion. But there are moments of jaw-dropping brilliance on here. The Pepsi Moon, a tune about Pepsi turning the moon into a billboard is lovely. It is a quiet folk tune with cacophony of squealing violins and horns that feel like they were recorded down the street. Ozzie is a ramshackle tune about the one and only, Ozzie Smith. Truth be told, I hated this song at first but I slowly got an appreciation for it after hearing it on some good headphones and now I love it. Music is weird that way, I guess. In The Air Hockey Fire is a soft rock strummer that’s fleshed out with a host of quirky sounds. The tune is about the loss of youth after an air hockey game burns the house down.

Overall, this album grows on me every time I listen to it. Other than the two instrumentals, I seem to enjoy each track more and more each time I listen to it. Much like The Low Anthem, I don’t my full enjoyment of this album is going to a direct route. The band was just starting a tour but were involved in a fairly nasty accident. Everybody is home recovering and they’ll be back at it again.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

The Low Anthem are here



The Low Anthem are finally back after a four year hiatus. The HearYa love affair with the Providence outfit is coming up on 10 years. I sure hope they get us something nice for our anniversary. Eyeland will be their 5th album and I can’t wait to hear the full thing. We’ve done two HearYa sessions with the band – here and here

Here’s some info on the album.

Eyeland proved a true beehive of industry as artists and bands from Rhode Island and beyond all approached Low Anthem to play live or cut tracks at the increasingly in-demand facility. EYELAND, the album, “was kept warm,” says Miller, “incubated,” as he and Prystowsky produced and recorded over 30 different acts.

Miller and Prystowsky eventually burrowed their own work, ably assisted by current Low Anthem musicians Florence Wallis and Bryan Minto as well as such first generation members as Jocie Adams, Mike Irwin, Tyler Osborne, and Andy Davis. The four-year process saw the duo pushing their creativity to its threshold by toying with perspective, speed controls, aggressive editing, and progressively more outré approaches. EYELAND’s risky songcraft and sonic experimentalism truly came into focus with the involvement of Providence’s renowned Trinity Repertory Company, which in 2014 invited The Low Anthem to create a new work for their stage. EYELAND was reverse engineered to fit a detailed but still abstract storyline, conjuring a fantastical dreamscape “where the world is a trick of the eye,” says Prystowsky.

“It’s hard to detail the narrative without giving away the surprise ending,” Miller says. “The album exists in the dreamt reality of a few children who experience a traumatic break from innocence when an air hockey table catches fire and burns down one of their houses. The valley that they live in turns into a nightmare of paranoia and then there’s a battle to regain control over their consciousness.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

The Low Anthem are here


Arc Iris – Singing So Sweetly

by Woody on January 29, 2014


Apparently Jocie Adams has left The Low Anthem and started her own band, Arc Iris. It also would appear as if she has also grown two extra arms. Apparently Anti Records like wonderfully talented women with four arms as they are releasing the debut LP on April 1st. I wonder if the four arms will be some April Fools joke or something.

Anyway, I digress. Here is some info on Jocie’s new project from the fine folks at Anti – Arc Iris is inspired by 70s pop, folk and country traditions, cabaret, jazz and classical. The eclectic new project from the former Low Anthem member draws on diverse music from Led Zeppelin to Grizzly Bear, from Joni Mitchell to Dirty Projectors, and from Miles Davis to Chopin. A singer, multi-instrumentalist, classical composer and former NASA researcher, Adams formed the collective with primary musicians Zach Tenorio-Miller (piano), Ray Belli (drums), Max Johnson (bass), Robin Ryczek (cello) and Mike Irwin (trumpet) among others to present her ambitious new songs.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa

Arc Iris is here

Our sessions with The Low Anthem are here and here.


Kennesaw Mountain’s Field of Flags

September 11, 2011

I spent this morning at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, a civil war battleground, with my wife and two kids. Volunteers set up a “Field of Flags” in memorial to the victims of the 9/11 attacks – three thousand flags. My three year old daughter and one year old son walked through the sea of […]

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The Low Anthem, Live Session #88

May 2, 2011

9/11 was suddenly thrust back into our minds last night and today as we learn the details surrounding Osama Bin Laden’s death. We were collectively shaken to our core after the fall of the Twin Towers and the events of 9/11 inspired lyrics in many songs released in 2001 and the years following. Songs like […]

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The Low Anthem’s Boeing 737 [New Video]

April 25, 2011

The Low Anthem’s “Boeing 737” is my favorite song of the 2011 so far. It’s filled with intensity with clashing cymbals, soaring horns, and stormy vocals from Ben Knox Miller. The first line still gives me chills every time I listen to it: “I was in the air when the towers came down/ In a […]

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The Low Anthem – Smart Flesh [Album Review]

February 9, 2011

Looking forward to anything can be brutal. Often times, there’s a disconnect between the lofty unattainable vision you created in your head and what is delivered to you in reality. Think the first time you got laid, the McDLT, and Waterworld. But every so often, the stars align and you are delivered everything you expected […]

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The Low Anthem “Ghost Woman Blues” on Letterman

January 13, 2011

The Low Anthem performed “Ghost Woman Blues” on Letterman last night. I’d like to meet the individual booking music on Letterman and buy them a cold IPA. Well done sir or ma’am. The Low Anthem’s new album, Smart Flesh, will be out on February 22nd and we’re currently trying to craft an album review that […]

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The Low Anthem release Ghost Woman Blues [new mp3, video]

December 13, 2010

The Low Anthem will release their new album, Smart Flesh, on February 22nd. I’ve been listening for a few weeks and love it. There’s a track called “Boeing 737” that’ll knock your socks off. You can see a new video of their first single, “Ghost Woman Blues,” below or download an mp3 of the song […]

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