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. Today’s selection, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Plastic Cup” by Low from the 2013 album The Invisible Way on Sub Pop.
Formed in Duluth, Minnesota, Low create a delicate, austere sound through a minimalist approach to build dense, space-filled songs that subtly resonate on their mostly blank musical canvases. Led by husband and wife duo Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker, the band incorporates elements of ‘80s post-punk, ‘70s outlaw country, and ‘60s confessional folk, but approach it all with a sparse, delicate outlook to form Low’s expansive signature sound. When recording their tenth full-length release, The Invisible Way, Low worked with Wilco leader Jeff Tweedy in his Chicago studio, and the result is sonically in line with the last few Wilco albums: sonorous, echo-friendly, and organic. While Tweedy’s sonic fingerprints are all over “Plastic Cup”, the song is another quintessential Low song: slow, slightly melancholy, and ultimately devastating. As Parker and Garrington form a sedate, intent rhythm, Sparhawk goes through the significance of a drug test, only to provide the listener with an unexpected ”Does He Love You?”-style twist at the end. Twenty years after forming, Low can still craft songs that are filled with tension without turning their amps up to 11 (or even 5, probably), and “Plastic Cup” is another outstanding entry into Low’s already large discography of slow-burning laments.
Low kicked off the tour behind The Invisible Way this weekend, and they’ll be in Seattle fairly soon. They’re playing at The Crocodile on April 6 with Thalia Zedek, and you can get tickets and more info about that show here. Keep up with the band on their website and Facebook page. For now, you can watch a video of the band playing “Plastic Cup” (under a slightly different name) live at KEXP’s broadcast from the Bumbershoot Music Lounge last fall: