Oh My God, Charlie Darwin CD
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The Low Anthem’s sublime music ranges from evocative folk ballads sung in gorgeous falsettos to garage-roots rockers in a Tom Waits bar-room style… Oh My God, Charlie Darwin is a thematic 12 song work, which illuminates the bands ability to create something that is both delicate and hugely evocative. The album was co-produced with and engineered by Jesse Lauter in the cold, bare stillness of the abandoned tourist destination, Block Island, in winter--a haven of peace and quiet. The only sounds were the rush of sea wind against the panes of the cabin and the crackling hum of the woodstove. Ten sleepless days and nights. Hundreds of live takes. Many bottles of bourbon. These were the record’s principle ingredients and it sounds tremendous.
With their second full-length album, this Rhode Island trio with a penchant for 'morally agnostic narrative' seem to have come of age. Oh My God, Charlie Darwin is a slow grower, and their folky but distinctly anthemic brand of Americana manages to transcend its influences through a combination of sturdy melodies and sometimes startling lyrical imagery.
The Low Anthem's other trademark is their novel arrangements, with all members being multi-instrumentalists. Ben Miller's vocals range from the Bon Iver-ish falsetto of the title track to a ragged blues holler, and he plays banjo, mouth organ and the occasional trumpet. Jocie Adams' clarinet lends a chamber folk ambience in several places, and Jeffrey Prystowsky plucks a double bass. On top of this, everybody chops and changes on guitars, drums and the pump organ that supplies a luminous background drone on more than half the tracks.
The way the tranquil beauty of the opening brace of songs is rudely disturbed by the blues stomp of The Horizon Is A Beltway remains jarring after several plays, which makes this the album's main weakness. It's followed in a similar vein by a version of Home I'll Never Be, a Tom Waits song that uses Jack Kerouac's words. Ticket Taker returns to more pastoral territory, suggesting a more melodic Lambchop, and then there's the swelling To The Ghosts Who Write History Books, with Miller's mouth organ underlining the band's interest in Neil Young.
(Don't) Tremble seems to echo the traditional Mockingbird Song, with its list of conditionals, the most memorable of which goes, ''If the winds surround your house/Don't twist and twist about/Wait it out''.
The best of the rowdier pieces is Champion Angel, which rides an elastic guitar groove and features surreal lyrics that recall Dylan and The Band at their sneering best. Cage The Songbird and the title track (the meaning of which is pretty opaque) both have a churchy feel, which once again underlines why the band chose their name. Chances are there will be plenty of worshippers before too long. --Jon Lusk
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Top Customer Reviews
This album has the uncanny ability to simultaneously recall an alt-folk hoedown and to allow for moments of restrained introspection. The Low Anthem hail from Rhode Island but their home is distinctly less Eastern-seaboard and more Mid-Western. The double indication lies in album closer `To Ohio (Reprise)' and second track `To Ohio', which start in Louisiana before heading North.
The gentle title track `Charlie Darwin' recalls a more melodic Band of Horses or a falsetto My Morning Jacket. This pretty voice comes on all the more gruffly for the stomping `Horizon Is A Beltway' and is positively growling for the moonshine-soaked square-dance that is `Home I'll Never Be'.
`Ticket Taker' is pure Everett of Eels fame and could well have come from their sparse and tragic Blinking Lights And Other Revelations album. It also witnesses use of the much-undervalued clarinet. `Champion Angel' sounds like an early Kings of Leon record, before they went all stadium: stately in its Southern flavour and liberal harmonica.
Certain tracks are a little plodding and in isolation would struggle to captivate the listener (Cage The Songbird), but serve The Low Anthem as a satisfying, if uneventful, canvas on which to paint the stronger numbers.Read more ›
The songs,some upbeat,some not,are all listenable,and if this is an indication on the talent,this is a band to be reckoned with,particularly listen out for"Ohio" "Charlie Darwin" and "To the ghosts who wrote the history books"beautiful and eerie.
I have the earlier 2008 version of the album which was available from the bands website and frankly I am not certain why it's a "special edition". The production is crystal clear and the songs are superbly crafted and either the old or new will delight you. It is difficult to know where to start on this album because it holds many surprises. First up are two songs which are as stunningly beautiful as anything you will hear this year and have an ambience that can only be rarely found on such albums as Bon Iver's "For Emma Forever ago" or the Fleet Foxes "Sun Giant EP". They must surely represent two of the best songs to come out of the Americana genre in recent years.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Magical songs, instruments and voices... unique... love the whole albumPublished 13 months ago by penelope andrea mitchell
beautifully constructed music with space to breathe, The Low Anthem continue to produce music of the highest quality in an almost simplistic form, brilliant.Published on 14 Jan. 2014 by Ali Rae
Great order as stated. Stand out music and well worth a listen if into folk rock with some really good tracks.Published on 30 Sept. 2013 by sam
Excellent service delievered promptly for a classy album by a genius artist. Recommended if you appreciate quality in your music.Published on 3 Jun. 2013 by Fnpig
The slow and the bippety-boppety - and the openning track will squeeze tears of life affirmation from places you didn't even know still existed on that aching body of yours.Published on 12 Mar. 2013 by Ken Byrne
I came to this from a bit of an odd angle, and I am glad I did. Tom Jones recently covered the song Charlie Darwin from this album on his 2012 release `Spirit in the Room', and I... Read morePublished on 8 Oct. 2012 by Victor
I have come to this late, at least three years after is was released. But I'm really glad I found it. Read morePublished on 2 Jun. 2012 by Dan Mollett
I bought this album after hearing "Champion Angel" being played on a HMV store stereo during a particularly slow Sunday afternoon. Read morePublished on 1 Nov. 2011 by Owain Thomas