Low is an American indie rock group from Duluth, Minnesota, formed in 1993. As of 2010, the group is composed of founding members Alan Sparhawk (guitar and vocals) and Mimi Parker (drums and vocals), joined by Steve Garrington (bass guitar). Previous bassists for the band include John Nichols from 1993 to 1994; Zak Sally from 1994 to 2005 and Matt Livingston from 2005 to 2008.
The music of Low is characterized by slow tempos and minimalist arrangements. Early descriptions sometimes referred to it as a rock subgenre called “slowcore” often compared to the band Bedhead, who played this style during the 1980s and early 1990s. However, Low’s members ultimately disapproved of the term.
Parker and Sparhawk’s striking vocal harmonies represent perhaps the group’s most distinctive element; critic Denise Sullivan writes that their shared vocals are “as chilling as anything Gram and Emmylou ever conspired on—though that’s not to say it’s country-tinged, just straight from the heart.
Christmas is an EP by the indie rock band Low. It was released in 1999 on Kranky. A Christmas album, it was released as a gift to fans. In 2013, the A.V. Club‘s Josh Modell described it as “the religious album even heathens can love”
Just Like Christmas—-If you are familiar with Lows’ music, you notice a bit of a difference at the onset of this opening track. The music that is produced is jaunty and a bit joyous…as it probably should be. the one common bond you will hear are the beautiful voices and wonderful harmonies. Mimi has a voice that is perfect for Christmas music…perfectly angelical and delivered with true emotion. This is a beautiful and perfectly delivered track.
Long Way Around The Sea—-From the opening notes, this track is much more familiar in sound and wraps around me like a warm fuzzy blanket. The two voices come together and produce a magical winter landscape that almost brings tears to your eyes as the describe the true meanings of this maniacal time of year. This is brilliant…beautiful in construction and delivery. Just remarkable.
Little Drummer Boy—-Perhaps the most stark and beautiful version of this song I have ever heard…..even from bona fide Church choirs. The melancholy feel of the song fits perfectly with the story. The remarkable and beautiful blend of voices will produce goosebumps…you will listen to this masterpiece of a song long after the season has left you…it is that exquisite and special. The tempo is maddeningly slow…allowing you to savor every single nuance of the words and story. This is a true masterpiece.
If You Were Born Today—-Staying true to the recipe that makes this band a indie phenomenon, the plodding slowness of the music makes it even more important. The minimalist instrumentation almost insists that you truly listen to every single word and digest it as the song moves foreword. This is remarkably beautiful…sad and a reminder of the reason people celebrate this time of year. This is just an incredibly powerful song….Low can do no wrong in my book.
Blue Christmas—-Taking a poignant song and adding the bands own personal spin, allows this classic Christmas song to become even more powerful and intense. Mimi delivers such an emotional vocal that you literally feel tears spring to your eyes uncontrollably. this is stark…naked and produces a feeling like no other version is capable of. This is heart wrenching and full of melancholy. Very powerful.
Silent Night—-With an incredible guitar based intro to the song, the two voices come together in a remarkably melody that could fit into any Christmas Eve service across the world. The feeling of the song is genuine and intense…the true structure of the original firmly intact but elevated by the beauty of the voices telling this story.
Taking Down The Tree—-A bit more of a livelier track, the banjo sound is really nice. Mimi adds her subtle percussion and Alan comes through with that sometimes really high vocal he sings in. The song has a sad element…as things are wrapped up for the season and we fall back into the mundane elements of winter as we aim for spring. This can produce a large array of feelings depending where you are at this point in the ‘season’….but that is the joy of this band.
One Special Gift—-Another track to wrap up this masterpiece of a release, that speaks of the let-down of the end of the season and the results of all the mayhem and the trials of the crazy thing we call Christmas. This is a poignant track…reminding me of the O’Henry tale about the combs. This is stark…naked and beautiful. A masterpiece.
*****out of 5