Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday, we deliver songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is the “Hide It Away” by Retribution Gospel Choir from the 2010 album 2 on Sub Pop.
The three-man slash-and-burn rock band Retribution Gospel Choir is no longer just the alter ego of the almighty slowcore pioneer project, Low. With five years of rockin’ and two studio albums (also two tour EPs) in the bag, the trio from Duluth, Minnesota, can once and for all claim an identity all of their own. Singer/guitarist Alan Sparhawk and bassist Steve Garrington of Low no doubt set aside their infamous mood-rock ambiance for psychedelia and guitar chaos with their 2008 self-titled debut. Their sensibly-titled follow-up record 2 merely provides even more of the same glaring heaviness that sets RGC apart, a lot more.
Touring with bands like the Meat Puppets and Wilco, signing with Sub Pop, and working with hot-shot LA producer Matt Beckley (clients include Britney Spears and Paris Hilton among others) may also have played a part in pushing the trio into the long-deserved spotlight. In this case, flashy production meets heavy and raw talent equals one epic, show-stopping new record.
Fuzzed-out guitar, hammering rhythms and anthemic lyrics are the blood source of the noisy, yet always on-key 2. “Hide It Away” is the album’s gem: a gallant sing-along ballad that should be called “This Is Life!” Eric Pollard’s surging drums form the mighty current of the song, marching, building, tossing and turning Sparhawk’s guitar and vocals into a grand swell. Beautiful, burning guitar patiently strums along the drum-line, waiting for the crashing frenzy pinnacle. At once, instruments take over for a short, spaced-out psych of a climax before Sparhawk wails his final lines of “You hide it away child,” leaving the song on a peculiar, yet almost summarizing painful last note.