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 tracks, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on The Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Try to Sleep” by Low from their forthcoming album C’mon on Sub Pop (available April 12).
Veteran indie rock trio Low hail from Duluth, Minnesota, where they first formed in 1993. Pioneers of the much-despised moniker “slowcore,” Low nonetheless were one of the very first indie rock bands to characterize themselves with slow tempos and minimalist arrangements. Also called “sadcore,” the slow-moving, meandering tunes that inhabit Low’s sound are no less lovely because of their speed (or lack thereof).
The band formed as a joke, a test to see whether Duluth crowds would tolerate a melancholy, morose take on rock, in a scene that was drowning in loud, grunge and post-punk sounds. The joke turned into a serious thought quicker than any band members could have anticipated, however, and by 1996, their third album The Curtain Hits the Cast established them firmly as critical darlings.
Success has continued for the band, who have over the years experimented with their sound; some electronic touches here, a little distorted lead guitar there. But the fundamentals of their sound have remained the same. On C’mon, all these elements come to a head in what could fittingly be described as pastoral shoegaze - it was recorded in a former church, after all. The lush and powerful combinations of piano, marching drums, and bells in “Try To Sleep are reminiscent of the finest work Low has produced to date. Emotionally engaging and resonant in its capacity for vast yet intimate space, “Try To Sleep” is an indicator that C’mon may be one of the finer albums to be released this year.
Low is playing select shows on the East Coast and in the Midwest this month before heading over to the U.K. to start their European tour. No doubt they’ll be back through the Northwest some time later this year, so keep checking their website, MySpace and Facebook pages for future dates. Below, you can see Low perform another song from C’mon, “Done,” via The Duluth Scene: