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Alternative & Indie - Released March 18, 2013 | Sub Pop Records

Distinctions 3F de Télérama - 5/6 de Magic
An institution of slowcore, one of indie rock's more bittersweet subsets, Low began making huge and haunted sounds out of the most minimal means in the early '90s. The Invisible Way finds the trio 20 years into its craft and returning to parts of its roots while at the same time branching into new sounds. The most noticeable shifts in the band's sound come with the production of Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, working with the band for the first time here. While much of Low's work clung to a formula of reverb and echo that their earliest records took to extremes, the 11 songs here are roomy but not obscured by cavernous sounds. Instead, tracks like "Holy Ghost" and "Amethyst" glow with an earthy sheen, finding their spaciousness more in subtle touches of acoustic instruments and perfectly placed accents of guitar than post-production techniques. The songwriting here harks back somewhat to the understated pastoral majesty of early Low records like Long Division and The Curtain Hits the Cast, with the band creating mysterious and lush beauty by slowing down and lingering over long, thoughtful chord changes and glimmering harmonies. Following more aggressive sidesteps in the band's discography like 2005's The Great Destroyer and 2007's bleak and cacophonous Drums and Guns, the return to basics is refreshing, and the even more naked production is a perfect complement to the songs. Drummer/vocalist Mimi Parker sings lead on an unprecedented five songs on this album. Her layered harmonies, pristine but never brittle, make songs like "So Blue" and "Four Score" stand out, at once familiar to Low's melancholic grandeur but with a new confidence not heard before. Parker's sure-footed vocals anchor the Yo La Tengo-channeling upbeat push of standout track "Just Make It Stop," delivering desperate lines over hopeful melodic chord shifts. Guitarist/vocalist Alan Sparhawk continues his part of the band's evolution as well, offering quizzical and sometimes meandering lyrics for tracks like "Plastic Cup" and "Clarence White," both of which are epic in contrast to the single-line couplets that defined earlier Low albums. With its brilliant production values and carefully curated arrangements, The Invisible Way shows a band decades into making music but still in a very real state of evolution. While not quite a career-definitive statement, much like the aforementioned Yo La Tengo, Wilco, Belle & Sebastian, or any of the early-'90s bands still exploring their sound, Low give us a definitive chapter for where they are presently, and present it with more clarity and joy than we've heard from them in some time. ~ Fred Thomas

Alternative & Indie - Released September 14, 2018 | Sub Pop Records

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Brilliantly melancholic, the trio of jolly depressives, Low, celebrate 25 years of musical therapy with their album Double Negative released by Sub Pop. 1,000% slow core, the album is a gradual and delicate suction towards the abyss. With the help of BJ Burton, Bon Iver’s producer, Low reveal a very mysterious bit of work, just like an original David Lynch band. The first track, Quorum, sets the tone with some heavy, crackling waves of sound. Double Negative is dark but above all it looks to create a unique sensory experience. Between the almost scary drums and atmospheric vocals, Low trap their prey in a sublime hypnosis.  Once under the spell Double Negative’s charm begins to work. Alan Sparhawk’s lyrics finally begin to take form on the track Fly. The singer takes five minutes in order to stabilize the state of his listeners. Moving at this rate, Low can finally manipulate their listeners in every sense. The robotic voice in Tempest and the vocal harmonies of Always Up provoke a feeling of weightlessness which leaves the listener imagining cosmic landscapes. When the synth, the vocoder, Garrington’s bass and Parker’s drums are not present the group uses telluric (earth like) sounds which almost warn of the pending apocalypse, like on the track The Son, the Sun. Terribly amazing, Double Negative goes from metamorphosis to metamorphosis, without ever revealing if the end will be prosperous or tragic. © Anna Coluthe/Qobuz

Alternative & Indie - Released September 11, 2015 | Sub Pop Records

Distinctions 4F de Télérama
If the relative warmth and hopefulness of 2011's C'mon and 2013's The Invisible Way had you wondering if Low were starting to get happy on us after all these years, don't fret -- 2015's Ones and Sixes shows that anxiety and grief are still the dominant emotions in Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker's world. While Low's two previous albums boasted production and instrumental accompaniment that brought out an emotional generosity that was a real change from the cool isolation of their best-known work, for Ones and Sixes the group and producer BJ Burton have opted for a stark and chilly sound, dominated by electronic pulsebeats and waves of polished noise that give the songs an unforgiving, alien backdrop. Despite the brushed aluminum sound of much of the album, one of the greatest strengths of Low's work for Sub Pop has been the beauty of Sparhawk and Parker's vocals, with their harmonies sounding even stronger with the passage of time, and that's just as true on Ones and Sixes, as the humanity of their voices gives this music a hint of body heat and warm breath. While that enlivens some tracks like "What Part of Me," the contrast makes the Spartan production sound all the more frigid on "Congregation," "The Innocents," and "Kid in the Corner," and even though the group's guitars and keyboards are still part of the arrangements, ultimately they're playing second fiddle to the electronics. Ones and Sixes is a brave effort that stands apart from much of Low's work, and there are certainly glimpses of their dour beauty on these 12 songs, but in the final analysis this is an album that fails more often than it triumphs. ~ Mark Deming

Rock - Released January 1, 1994 | Astralwerks

Like so many of their contemporaries, Low are repeatedly lumped into numerous derivative and nondescript headings intended to encompass slow-paced, instrument-driven music that maintains an indie aesthetic. Quite simply, no category can truly reveal the beauty and glory of Low's debut record I Could Live in Hope. Sad core? Not even close! I Could Live in Hope is an incredibly joyous journey of spirit and songwriting sensibility. The record remains patient and sparse throughout (just guitar, bass, high hat, and snare, and angelic vocals by the husband and wife team of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker), but succeeds beautifully. Low truly behold the gift of understatement. Working with long-time producer and New York underground mainstay Kramer, Low examine their own fears and haunting experiences, occasionally linking them with Biblical references, while consoling listeners with warm layers of ethereal vocals and waves of guitar reverberation. Tracks are simple one-word titles but that's all that they require -- too much information would spoil the record's elegance. And that's probably why they open the record with "Words," a song about the overuse and misuse of language, that sets the tone for the entire album, right up to their plaintive and passionate cover of "You Are My Sunshine." Every small nuance of production is evident -- Sparhawk's fingers not quite connecting on a chord change or sliding over a fret and echoing infinitely -- making I Could Live in Hope a true testament to both Low and Kramer's penchant for capturing the lushest of soundscapes. ~ Ken Taylor

Alternative & Indie - Released May 21, 2001 | In The Fishtank


Rock - Released January 1, 1995 | Astralwerks

With the molasses-slow ringing of the opening chords of "Violence," Low arrived. The Duluth, Minnesota band had formed two years earlier in 1993, and issued its quietly joyful debut, I Could Live in Hope, in the interim, but sophomore record Long Division saw the band stripping down its already unprecedentedly spare instrumentation to create an atmosphere so lonely, patient, and narcotic that the album created the sensation of being awake in a sad-hearted dream. On their debut, Low's sound was informed by their minimal instrumentation, with guitar, high-register bass notes, and a two-piece drum kit providing the backdrop for Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker's angelic harmonies and Kramer's spacious production. The songs on Long Division take that minimalism even further, slowing the tempos and implementing so much negative space that the instruments sometimes fade into complete silence in the space between sparse notes or drum hits. The otherworldly slowness of songs like "Shame" and "See-Through" are representative of the radical amount of space that defines the album, gliding gracefully as a falling leaf floating slowly on the wind. Low were born out of a reaction to the aggressive trudge of early-'90s grunge, so the songs are slow but never plodding. A song like "Turn" begins with a somewhat menacing lurch, but slowly blooms into a mysteriously hopeful climax. Contemporaries like Red House Painters and especially Codeine worked in similar muted colors and pensive tempos, but Low managed to exist outside of the often depressive themes of their peers. Practicing Mormons, Sparhawk and Parker often intoned their understated songs with vaguely religious undertones, hinting at retribution and redemption with foreboding atmospheres and heavy vibes more than overtly cautionary lyrics. The combination of Low's groundbreaking approach to elongating traditional pop music structures paired with Kramer's equally extreme reverb and Echoplex colorings congeal into one of Low's most brilliantly atmospheric statements, and perhaps the most dire in what would be a career that spanned decades. Long Division is a masterwork, somehow simultaneously achieving lushness and emptiness, embodying hope and heartbroken despair with equal force. ~ Fred Thomas

Alternative & Indie - Released September 30, 2016 | Temporary Residence Ltd.

Described by the band as "a soundtrack to an imaginary film," Low's 2000 release The Exit Papers is a work that's unusually low key and atmospheric, even by this band's very nuanced standards. Instrumental except for some wordless vocal passages, and often working without conventional melody or structure, The Exit Papers plays like an effort to push the boundaries of Low's experimental side, and the minimal melodic frameworks drifting over beds of ambient noise certainly take their traditional slowcore approach to a patiently unrelenting conclusion. The best moments in The Exit Papers work in the way much of Low's best music, creating an emotional pull from simple but evocative elements. However, "Untitled 4," which runs nearly 15 minutes, is a collage of feedback, distortion, and other guitar-based noises that goes on far too long for its own good. Going with the album's concept, perhaps it would have made more sense accompanying some long, tense scene in an offbeat independent thriller, but all by itself it's a lulling but poorly focused noise experiment that's not especially rewarding. The Exit Papers was originally released in a limited edition of 1,000 copies, distributed as part of a subscription program by Temporary Residence Records. This sort of release makes sense for this music; The Exit Papers isn't meant for the average music fan, or even for most of Low's usual audience. This is an experimental album intended for people with a passion for ambient noise, and while Low's Secret Name and Things We Lost in the Fire were beautiful and bold in their pursuit of the elegant detail, The Exit Papers suggests these musicians wandered off the path and had a hard time making their way back. Fans may be interested in hearing this remarkable group stake out new territory, but this is far from their best work. ~ Mark Deming

Alternative & Indie - Released April 11, 2011 | Sub Pop Records

No one has ever listened to Low expecting boundless good cheer, but the dour beauty of their best work -- Secret Name, Things We Lost in the Fire, and Trust -- made something deeply rewarding out of the fragile sorrow of their spare melodies and Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker's voices. However, the bigger and more sonically diverse sound of Low's two albums with producer Dave Fridmann, The Great Destroyer and Drums and Guns, tended to reinforce the increasingly dark and chaotic tone of the group's songwriting, and what once seemed quietly sad now seemed more than a bit troubling. So it's both surprising and reassuring that Low's ninth studio album, C'mon, is also the most hopeful music they've released in quite some time. With the lovely tranquility of the opening tune, "Try to Sleep," and the easy charm of "You See Everything" (which sounds like some lost gem of mid-‘70s soft rock), C'mon is as languid as ever for Low while at the same time suggesting these musicians are looking for some light at the end of the tunnel. C'mon was co-produced and mixed by Matt Beckley, who has previously worked with Katy Perry, Avril Lavigne, and Vanessa Hudgens; he's an odd choice to work with Low, but thankfully, he's not afraid to let the album's darker and more contemplative songs sound as dramatic as they should, while adding just the right touch of polish on "Especially Me" and "Something's Turning Over," where the pop undercurrents that often run beneath Sparhawk and Parker's songs bob to the surface. (Beckley also does fine work with Sparhawk and Parker's vocals, which are in splendid form here.) C'mon, like Low's albums with Fridmann, stands apart from the stark minimalism of this band's earlier music, with a number of additional musicians contributing to the sessions (including Wilco guitarist Nels Cline and violinist Caitlin Moe), but this material more successfully adds dynamics and color to Low's melodies while retaining the power of their elemental approach. The dark clouds that have haunted Low are still clearly visible on "Witches" and "$20," but the slow, noisy build to the climax of "Nothing But Heart" is a testament to the very real heart and soul behind their music, and C'mon, while well short of sunny, is an album devoted to the search for answers amidst the darkness, and it's a powerful, deeply moving work from a truly singular band. ~ Mark Deming

Alternative & Indie - Released August 16, 2018 | Sub Pop Records


Alternative & Indie - Released June 12, 2018 | Sub Pop Records


Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 1996 | Astralwerks

The Curtain Hits the Cast was Low's first "major" album, taking the indie buzz over their early work to a much larger audience. The band didn't lose anything in the process -- the album shows them still firmly entrenched in the epic, slow, lazy dirges that got them started. The only noticeable changes come in the form of more elaborate production and a shift in the ratio of dark, creepy dirges to pretty, comforting ones (the latter winning out, as evidenced by the album's single, the beautiful "Over the Ocean"). Low is one of those rare bands that has created such a distinct musical world for itself that even major changes can't affect it -- just like every Cocteau Twins album is unmistakably theirs, and always good, listening to any Low recording involves revisiting a wonderful sound that can't be found anywhere else. The Curtain Hits the Cast is more accessible than much of the band's earlier work, but, since it's a Low album, it isn't really that much different -- the album is probably the best introduction to Low's work. ~ Nitsuh Abebe

Pop - Released January 1, 1996 | Astralwerks

Duluth, Minnesota's slowcore pioneers Low had been impressing live audiences with their slow as molasses cover of Joy Division's "Transmission" well before it was released on the largely unimpressive Joy Division tribute album, A Means to an End. Not content to let their version wither, the band put together this fine EP. "Transmission" is joined by some excellent songs unavailable elsewhere, including the brief but lovely "Bright," a darker version of the band's "Caroline" (called "Caroline 2"), and a cover of Supreme Dicks' "Jack Smith." Transmission EP also marks a couple of firsts for Low. It was the first pairing of the band with producer Steve Albini, who would produce the band's best work, 1999's Secret Name. Another first was a hidden, untitled track that stretched the band into much more experimental territory that they would explore on 1997's Songs for a Dead Pilot. ~ Josh Modell

Pop - Released June 3, 2018 | iM Classic (EU)


Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 1995 | Astralwerks


Alternative & Indie - Released March 20, 2007 | Sub Pop Records

A stark retreat from the relatively sunny sound of The Great Destroyer, Drums and Guns is, as its title suggests, inspired by the war in Iraq. True to the spirit of Low's other work, the outrage and regret expressed by these songs is just as timeless as it is timely, lamenting that war still exists as much as it addresses this particular war. And, while Drums and Guns' emotions and lyrics are complex (and on songs like "Murderer," with its "seems like you could use another fool," they don't pull any punches), its sound is often devastatingly spare and simple. It's almost hard to believe that the band worked with David Fridmann on this album as well as The Great Destroyer -- where that album was lush and overflowing with sonic tangents, Drums and Guns' sound is raw and restricted to just a few key sounds that underscore its themes. Fittingly, most of the album emphasizes percussion; whether it's the martial-yet-jazzy beat that drives "Sandinista" or the somber, almost industrial thud of "Dragonfly," this approach keeps the songs intimate, powerful, and uniquely modern-sounding. Organ also plays a key role on Drums and Guns, particularly on "Breaker," where it magnifies the anguish of lyrics like "my hand just kills and kills," and "Violent Past," where its massive sound closes the album by swallowing the listener in a cathedral of distortion. Aside from this song and the similarly epic "In Silence," most of Drums and Guns is gently but insistently tense, like a nagging conscience: "Take Your Time"'s looped church bells and "Belarus"' ghostly harmonies are bleakly, uncompromisingly beautiful. Low lightens up a little on the album's middle stretch, with "Hatchet," a plea for peace that's surprisingly playful ("let's bury the hatchet like the Beatles and the Stones"), and "Dust on the Window," where Mimi Parker's sweet voice sounds inherently comforting even as she wonders, "where can a girl get a meal?" Despite these bright spots, this is easily -- and understandably -- Low's darkest album since Trust. Unlike that album, however, Drums and Guns never feels dragged down by its weighty subject matter. It's a lean, potent work, and even if it's not one of Low's most superficially pleasant collections of songs, it's certainly among their most necessary ones. ~ Heather Phares

Pop - Released January 1, 1998 | Astralwerks

Owl (Low Remixes) is a compilation of other artists' remixes of the Duluth, MN. trio Low. Low is known primarily for their subtlety and ambience, and none of the eight remixes stray too far from the band's trademark sound. The songs are deconstructed and reworked by several renowned artists/DJs, such as Tranquility Bass (aka Mike Kandel), Skull Valley Dub (aka Tom Chasteen), and Jimmy Somerville/Sally Herbert (Somerville was the lead singer for '80s hitmakers Bronski Beat). The album's opener, "Down" (by Porter Ricks), may test the listener's patience, since it's nearly 15-minutes long and very minimalistic, but later remixes make up for it. "Laugh" by DJ Vadim is a definite highlight, as is the upbeat "Anon" and the moody "Do You Know How to Waltz," both remixed by Neotropic (aka Riz Maslen). Owl (Low Remixes) is definitely recommended to ambient admirers and hardcore fans of the band, but newcomers may want to start elsewhere. ~ Greg Prato

House - Released July 19, 2004 | Buzzin' Fly


House - Released March 19, 2012 | Paul's Boutique


Acid Jazz - Released February 17, 2017 | Phonector


Rock - Released February 17, 2017 | Phonector