On September 14th, in the faithfully defiant fashion of their 25-year career, Low will release Double Negative, its most brazen, abrasive (and, paradoxically, most empowering) album. As a prelude to the full-length album, Low presents a triptych video for the opening songs of the album. Each video can also be watched independently:
Directed by Mark Pellington - Edited by Jen Kennedy
To make Double Negative, Low reenlisted B.J. Burton, the adventurous producer who in recent years has made records with Bon Iver, Lizzo, and Francis and the Lights. Returning once again to Justin Vernon’s April Base studio in Eau Claire, Wisconsin (where they recorded 2015’s Ones and Sixes) Alan Sparhawk, Mimi Parker, and bassist Steve Garrington knew they wanted to go further with Burton and his palette of sounds: they wanted to see what someone who is, as Sparhawk puts it, “a hip-hop guy” could truly do with their music. Rather than obsessively write and rehearse at home in Duluth, Minnesota, they would often head southeast to Eau Claire, arriving with sketches and ideas that they would work on for days with Burton. Band and producer became collaborative co-writers, building the pieces up and breaking them down until their purpose and force felt clear.
Following summer shows in the UK, Germany, and Poland, the band will embark on a first leg of touring in support of the new album with a two-night stand at National Sawdust in New York City. See below for a full list of tour dates, with more to be announced in the coming weeks.
Tour Dates: Jun. 19 - Leeds, United Kingdom - Brudenell Social Jun. 20 - London, United Kingdom - Queen Elizabeth Hall (Robert Smith’s Meltdown Festival) Jun. 23 - Duisburg, Germany - Traumzeit festival Jun. 25 - Munich, Germany - Ampere Jun. 26 - Dresden, Germany - Beatpol Jun. 29 - Bialystok, Poland - Amphitheater of the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic (Halfway Music Festival!) Sep. 20 - New York, NY - National Sawdust Sep. 21 - New York, NY - National Sawdust Sep. 29 - Lisbon, Portugal - Lisboa ao Vivo Oct. 1 - De Compostela Santiago, Spain - Sala Capitol Oct. 2 - Madrid, Spain - Sala But Oct. 3 - Barcelona, Spain - Fabra i Coats Oct. 5 - Milan, Italy - Teatro Dal Verme Oct. 6 - Zurich, Switzererland - Bogen F Oct. 8 - Leipzig, Germany - Conne Island Oct. 9 - Berlin, Germany - Festsaal Kreuzberg Oct. 11 - Brussels, Belgium - Orangerie (at Botanique) Oct. 12 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - Paradiso Oct. 13 - Paris, France - La Gaîté Lyrique Oct. 15 - Bristol, UK - Trinity Oct. 16 - Manchester, UK - Manchester Cathedral Oct. 17 - Manchester Cathedral - Vicar Street Nov. 02 - St. Paul, MN - The Fitz Nov. 03 - Davenport, IA - Daytrotter Nov. 05 - Detroit, MI - El Club Nov. 06 - Toronto, ON - Great Hall Nov. 08 - Montreal, QC - La Sala Rosa Nov. 09 - Boston, MA - Brighton Music Hall Nov. 10 - Philadelphia, PA - Underground Arts Nov. 12 - Washington, DC U Street Music Hall Nov. 13 - Pittsburgh, PA - The Funhouse Nov. 14 - Cleveland, OH - Grog Shop Nov. 16 - Chicago, IL - Rockefeller Chapel Nov. 17 - Madison, WI - High Noon Saloon
Pre-orders of Double Negative through megamart.subpop.com and select independent retailers will receive the limited Loser Edition on crystal clear vinyl with an enclosed full-color flat of album artwork. The album cover for Double Negative was created by longtime collaborator, English artist, Peter Liversidge.
Double Negative Tracklisting: 1. Quorum 2. Dancing and Blood 3. Fly 4. Tempest 5. Always Up 6. Always Trying to Work It Out 7. The Son, The Sun 8. Dancing and Fire 9. Poor Sucker 10. Rome (Always in the Dark) 11. Disarray
[Photo Credit: Shelly Mosman]
More on Low’s Double Negative by Grayson Currin: In 2018, the band Low will turn twenty-five. Since 1993, Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker—the married couple whose heaven-and-earth harmonies have always held the band’s center—have pioneered a subgenre, shrugged off its strictures, recorded a Christmas classic, become a magnetic onstage force, and emerged as one of music’s most steadfast and vital vehicles for pulling light from our darkest emotional recesses. But Low will not commemorate its first quarter-century with mawkish nostalgia or safe runs through songbook favorites. Instead, in faithfully defiant fashion, Low will release its most brazen, abrasive (and, paradoxically, most empowering) album ever: Double Negative, an unflinching eleven-song quest through snarling static and shattering beats that somehow culminates in the brightest pop song of Low’s career.
To make Double Negative, Low reenlisted B.J. Burton, the quietly energetic and adventurous producer who has made records with James Blake, Sylvan Esso, and The Tallest Man on Earth in recent years while working as one of the go-to figures at Bon Iver’s home studio, April Base. Burton recorded Low’s last album, 2015’s Ones and Sixes, at April Base, adding might to many of its beats and squelch and frisson beneath many of its melodies.
This time, though, Sparhawk, Parker, and bassist Steve Garrington knew they wanted to go further with Burton and his palette of sounds, to see what someone who is, as Sparhawk puts it, “a hip-hop guy” could truly do to their music. Rather than obsessively write and rehearse at home in Duluth, Minnesota, they would often head southeast to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, arriving with sketches and ideas that they would work on for days with Burton. Band and producer became collaborative cowriters, building the pieces up and breaking them down and building them again until their purpose and force felt clear. As the world outside seemed to slide deeper into instability, Low repeated this process for the better part of two years, pondering the results during tours and breaks at home. They considered not only how the fragments fit together but also how, in the United States of 2018, they functioned as statements and salves.
Double Negative is, indeed, a record perfectly and painfully suited for our time. Loud and contentious and commanding, Low fights for the world by fighting against it. It begins in pure bedlam, with a beat built from a loop of ruptured noise waging war against the paired voices of Sparhawk and Parker the moment they begin to sing during the massive “Quorum.” For forty minutes, they indulge the battle, trying to be heard amid the noisy grain, sometimes winning and sometimes being tossed toward oblivion.
During the immersive “Dancing and Blood,” Parker slowly comes into focus, as if singing from the wind-ripped mouth of a cave. Parker appears to beat back disaster for “Fly,” her soulful vocals curving into and above Garrington’s bold bassline as Sparhawk’s own signal cuts in and out. Elsewhere, though, songs like “Always Trying to Work It Out” and “Tempest” threaten to swallow the pair whole, their overwhelming quakes of dissonance aiming to silence them once and for all. Sometimes, Sparhawk and Parker are stuck in the Sisyphean middle, capable of neither failing nor forging ahead. During the brilliantly conceived “Poor Sucker,” written in large part by Garrington, their voices suggest skiffs stuck on some turbulent sea, falling beneath and rising above the cacophony with seasick irregularity. In this frustrated song of self-defeat, Low lists all the ways they could have made their lives matter. It is a eulogy of could-have-beens for a time that won’t really let you be.
As “Rome (Always in the Dark),” a march that forces its way through the din with damn-the-torpedoes tenacity, fades toward a rare silence, a pulse sculpted from a shard of noise emerges, flashing from a distance like the safety of a life raft. It rises into a steady thump, with Sparhawk and Parker floating above it in crystalline unison: “Before it falls into total disarray/You’ll have to learn to live a different way,” they sing, their melody forming a tightrope of despair and delight. In some ways, it’s a warning of the bad times to come. But it’s also a promise that we’re more powerful and adaptable than madness itself, that we have the ability to persevere. During the song’s back half, Sparhawk and Parker don’t say anything. They instead lock into august harmony and glide between notes, Parker’s purely ascendant tone pulling Sparhawk’s falsetto skyward. It is an exquisite and triumphant moment, an exhalation after all the damage and din.
In spite of the mounting noise, Sparhawk and Parker still sing. Or maybe they sing because of the noise. For Low, has there ever really been a difference?
TOUR ALERT: Beginning June 12th, Low will embark on a five-date co-headline tour with Japanese instrumental rock band MONO. These dates will bring the bands to intimate venues along the American West Coast. Following these shows, the two artists will also both be playing a handful of Canadian summer festivals. (full listing below)
Tour Dates + Ticket Links at www.chairkickers.com/ Jun. 12 - Los Angeles, CA - Globe Theater Jun. 13 - San Francisco, CA - The Fillmore Jun. 15 - Portland, OR - Wonderland Ballroom Jun. 16 - Seattle, WA - Neptune Theatre Jun. 17 - Vancouver, BC - Imperial Jun. 21 - Calgary, AB - Sled Island Music and Arts Festival Jun. 23 - Saskatoon, SK - SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival
The most recent full-length album from Low is their 2015 release Ones and Sixes, which earned Low international acclaim from the likes of NPR Music, Under the Radar, The Guardian, DIY, Q, MOJO, Uncut, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Chicago Tribune, CLASH, The Sunday Times, and a cover story interview by Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon in MAGNET Magazine (view cover / read an excerpt of the story here).
On the eve of Low’s UK & Ireland tour - on which they’re set to play tracks from their seminal 1999 EP Christmas - the Duluth trio present a reflective and inspiring new recording, closing out our current year and looking ahead to the next.
”Some Hearts (at Christmas Time)” finds Mimi Parker’s lead vocal soaring above Alan Sparhawk’s own artfully processed vocal and plaintive guitar motif.
The song comes with a short personal note from the band:
“To friends who have moved away and friends who have passed on this year. To one and all, especially those who are alone, we wish you a Merry Christmas and new hope for the new year. May we all find ways to lift each other.
Mimi, Alan and Steve.”
[Photo by Zoran Orlic]
Low have an unparalleled pedigree when it comes to releasing seasonal aural delights. Their eight-song 1999 EP Christmas is often referred to as one of the best Christmas albums of the alternative era, and is a gift that many fans return to year in, year out. Originally championed by John Peel, the EP collects five Christmas-themed originals by the band as well as covers of “Little Drummer Boy,” “Blue Christmas” and “Silent Night.”
Starting today, fans will have a rare chance to experience the joy, peace and reflection imbued in these songs - as well as new release “Some Hearts (at Christmas Time)” - when they’re performed live in some of the most handsome venues that the UK and Ireland has to offer.
The tour, which includes two nights at London’s Union Chapel, is nigh-on sold out with just a handful of tickets remaining at certain venues.
Low Christmas 2016 tour
01 December – Norwich, UK – Arts Centre (SOLD OUT) 02 December – Buxton, UK – Opera House 03 December – Brighton, UK – St. Georges (SOLD OUT) 05 December – London, UK – Union Chapel (SOLD OUT) 06 December - London, UK - Union Chapel (SOLD OUT) 07 December – Bristol, UK – St. Georges (SOLD OUT) 08 December - Salford, UK - Eagle Inn* (SOLD OUT) 09 December – Halifax, UK – Minster (SOLD OUT) 10 December – Glasgow, UK – St. Lukes Church (SOLD OUT) 12 December – Belfast, UK – Empire 13 December – Dublin, IE - Christchurch (SOLD OUT) 14 December – Kilkenny, IE – Set Theatre
*LOW return to Salford, Greater Manchester on 8th December for an intimate performance at The Eagle Inn. The 80-capacity show will consist of an exclusive set of all-new material never before performed in Europe, with all profits donated to local homelessness charity Booth Centre. Support comes from Loop legend Robert Hampson and local singer-songwriter Elle Mary; marking the final Dots & Loops event to wind up ten years’ promoting in Manchester.
On Saturday, April 16th, 2016, aka Record Store Day, Sub Pop will release two very limited split singles: Low and S. Carey’s “Not A Word” / “ I Won’t Let You Fall” 10” and METZ and Mission of Burma’s “Good, Not Great” / “Get Off” 7”. Check ‘em out:
METZ and Mission of Burma “Good, Not Great” / “Get Off” 7” single: Toronto noise-rock behemoths METZ team up with Boston post-punk legends Mission of Burma on this split single for Record Store Day 2016. METZ contribute a cover of “Good, Not Great,” a track from Mission of Burma’s 2006 album The Obliterati, while Mission of Burma cover METZ’s 2012 anthem, “Get Off.” This single is a Record Store Day 2016 exclusive, and it is limited to 4,000 copies worldwide. All copies are on starburst purple and green vinyl.
Tracklisting: 1. Good, Not Great (METZ) 2. Get Off (Mission of Burma)
Low / S. Carey “Not A Word” / “I Won’t Let You Fall” 10” single: This 10” single on special translucent white vinyl features two 7-minute collaborations between Duluth group Low and Wisconsin’s S. Carey, aka Sean Carey, best known as the drummer and supporting vocalist for Bon Iver. The idea for this release came from producer BJ Burton. “Not a Word” was an unfinished Low track that BJ worked with S. Carey to complete, while “I Won’t Let You Fall” was an unfinished S. Carey song that BJ worked with Low to complete. This unique partnership between Low, S. Carey and BJ Burton (and Sub Pop and Jagjaguwar) is exclusive to Record Store Day 2016, and it is limited to 4,000 copies worldwide.
Tracklisting: 2. I Won’t Let You Fall (S. Carey) 1. Not a Word (Low)
More About Record Store Day: Record Store Day was conceived in 2007 at a gathering of independent record store owners and employees as a way to celebrate and spread the word about the unique culture surrounding nearly 1400 independently owned record stores in the US and thousands of similar stores internationally. The first Record Store Day took place on April 19, 2008. Today there are Record Store Day participating stores on every continent except Antarctica.
This is a day for the people who make up the world of the record store—the staff, the customers, and the artists—to come together and celebrate the unique culture of a record store and the special role these independently owned stores play in their communities. Special vinyl and CD releases and various promotional products are made exclusively for the day. Festivities include performances, cook-outs, body painting, meet & greets with artists, parades, DJs spinning records, and on and on. In 2008 a small list of titles was released on Record Store Day and that list has grown to include artists and labels both large and small, in every genre and price point. In 2015, 60% of the Record Store Day Official Release List came from independent labels and distributors. The list continues to include a wide range of artists, covering the diverse taste of record stores and their customers. http://www.recordstoreday.com/Home
Low has delivered a new video for “Into You,” a standout from Ones and Sixes, their acclaimed 2015 album. The visual was directed by Jim Burns and Beth Chalmers, and filmed while on location in Glasgow, Scotland.
The directors had this to say of the video: “Inspired by the hypnotic reflections of the River Clyde on the archways beneath Glasgow’s city bridges, this film draws parallels between the power of a single beam of sunlight and the deeply affecting personal experience one feels during Low’s live performance. Despite being part of a crowd, Low’s music invokes within you a profound and unique individual perspective.”
Low’s 2016 tour schedule in support of Ones and Sixes is underway with a show tonight, February 1st in Philadelphia, PA at Johnny Brenda’s and runs through June 11th in Kværndrup, DK at Heartland Festival. New tour highlights include a tour of Australia and New Zealand from April 1st-9th. (see dates below.)
Low’s Ones and Sixes is available for purchase from the Sub Pop Mega Mart, iTunes, Amazon, and Bandcamp. Now completely sold-out through megamart.subpop.com, the limited “Loser Edition” of the double-LP on yellow vinyl and packaged in a variant slipcase cover is available from select independent stores and from the band themselves at upcoming tour dates, while supplies last. There are also two new T-shirt designs available at megamart.subpop.com, both as individual items and as part of CD and LP bundles.
Ones and Sixes garnered year-end praise from the likes of NPR Music (50 Best Albums and “Readers Poll”), Music OMH (#10), MOJO (#13), Drowned in Sound (#16), Under The Radar (#24), The Skinny (#28), Uncut (#37), and Village Voice “Pazz & Jop” (#46). It also earned the group’s first-ever U.K. Top 40 album spot, coming in at #35 on the official albums chart, and entered at #68 here in the U.S. on SoundScan’s Top Current Albums charts. Ones and Sixes also peaked at #7 on the CMJ Top 200 chart.
[Photo Credit :: Zoran Orlic]
What ‘the people’ are saying about Low’s Ones and Sixes:
“It’s one thing for Low to have made a rewarding career of spare, dramatic, glacially paced music…It’s another to make those ingredients sound so incredibly dynamic; to spend 20-plus years making a dozen albums that each feel distinct, and that each introduce new ideas, twists and ways to wring drama out of the space between notes…Throughout Ones and Sixes, the Minnesota trio somehow gives weight to airiness as comfort and discord orbit each other like a binary star. But every time the portent threatens to become overbearing — just as the mix of prettiness and heaviness tips a little too far out of alignment — Low punctures it with a burst of cleansing aggression or some pristine, exquisite surprise. Anything to keep us off balance.” [“First Listen”] - NPR Music
“The band’s strengths are here in abundance, but they are reimagined, twisted into new shapes and given a visceral intensity that is utterly irresistible.” [9/10] - CLASH
“…Striking a balance between their majestic, slow-moving melancholy and harsher experimental noise.” [4/5] - The Guardian
“One of the most impressive albums of their career” [4/5] - MOJO
“‘What Part of Me,’ with its upbeat percussion, fuzzy guitar textures andsweet harmonized lyrics about relationship boundaries (‘What part of me don’t you own?’), feels like a sideways response to the post-1989 maximalism of today’s Top 40; “Into You” is a gospel-inflected, subtly sexy slow jam; and “The Innocents” sets accusatory vocals over a crunching electro-industrial beat, all to excellent effect. Elsewhere, on the gentle, pained duet “Lies,” Low remind us they’re still masters of doing a lot with a little.” - Rolling Stone
”Ones and Sixes is all at once beautiful, ugly, tense, warm, inviting and repellent. It’s an emotional and sonic juggling act where even the slightest bum-note would draw attention to itself. As always with Low, the beauty is all about the details” - Pitchfork
‘Ones and Sixes is an ear-pricking listen.’ [Album of the Week] - The Observer
“Ones and Sixes finds them producing some of their best work in years” - The Quietus
“It’sanothersubtly heart-rending effort from a band that remains one of the very finest in the world. If you needed a reminder of why Low are an institution then this is it.” [8/10] - Drowned in Sound
“Somehow, with each new release (and they come regularly, every two or three years), Low manage to find new ways of protracting their deceptively beautiful melodies.” [4.5/5] - Music OMH
“Ones and Sixes hinges on tension that courses throughout these 12 songs. The drums land with a thud, as if transferred from modern R&B and hip-hop. They anchor songs that crackle with bits of distortion and chiming guitars that somehow feel disembodied from everything surrounding them. Then, in keeping with a signature Low move, there is the spectral spark created by Parker and Sparhawk singing together; their alchemy is otherworldly and downright intoxicating.” - Boston Globe
“With Ones and Sixes they’ve pulled together many of their disparate sides in a masterful survey of what makes them one of the great rock bands of their era.” - Dusted
“Ones and Sixes sees Low churning out some of their most accessible work, with “What Part of Me” having the potential to be an unlikely hit. As ever, strong stuff in every way.” [4/5] - Record Collector
“Low’s always been good at making records where it sounds like every note and beat contains some degree of pain and hope you’ve felt.Sohopefully it’s compelling when this one stands out even more as one of their best.” [8.1 /10] - PASTE
“Low remain as vital as ever” - DIY
“After two decades, a band that could easily feel part of the wallpaper remain hungry to show that you never know what lies beneath” [8/10] - Uncut
“Comfortably ahead of the pop pack” - TheSunday Times
“Masters of transforming emptiness into swelling, sweeping orchestrations of musical and mental noise, Low are truly intense and joyful on their newest exhibition of off-kilter, subterranean pop.” [4/5] -NOW
Feb. 01 - Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brenda’s Feb. 02 - Baltimore, MD - Creative Alliance (Seated) Feb. 03 - Carrboro, NC - Cat’s Cradle Feb. 04 - Atlanta, GA - The Earl Feb. 05 - Birmingham, AL - Saturn Feb. 06 - New Orleans, LA - One Eyed Jacks Feb. 08 - Houston, TX - Walter’s Downtown Feb. 09 - Austin, TX - The Parish Feb. 10 - Dallas, TX - The Kessler Theatre Feb. 11 - Hot Springs, AR - Low Key Arts Feb. 12 - Nashville, TN - City Winery Feb. 13 - St. Louis, MO - Off Broadway Mar. 12 - Mexico City, MX - Festival NRML Apr. 01 - Wellington, NZ - Bodega Apr. 02 - Auckland, NZ - King’s Arms Apr. 04 - Southbank, AU - Melbourne Recital Centre Apr. 05 - North Fremantle, AU - Mojos Fremantle Apr. 07 - Fortitude Valley, AU - Black Bear Lodge Apr. 08 - Sydney, AU - Oxford Art Factory Apr. 09 - Hobart, AU - Eros & Thanatos (at the Museum of Old and New Art) Jun. 11 - Kværndrup, DK - Heartland Festival * w/ Andy Shauf
What’s this news from Low, you ask? Well, the band have resumed their headlining US tour in support of Ones and Sixes, the group’s acclaimed new album. The trek continues tonight, Wednesday, November 11th at Minneapolis’ First Avenue, and goes through to Saturday, November 21st at Seattle’s Crocodile. Then in 2016, the group have scheduled a series of dates that begin January 15th in Anchorage, AK at Taproot and end February 13th in St. Louis at the Pageant. There are also two international festival dates to mention at this time: March 12th in Mexico City, MX at Festival NRML and June 11th in Kværndrup, DK at Heartland Festival. (see details below)
ICYMI: Low recently premiered an official video for “Lies,” from Ones and Sixes, which was directed by Manuel Aragon (watch it here). The band also made its second appearance on Later with Jools Holland, performing Ones and Sixes highlights “What Part of Me” and “The Innocents.”
And there’s more (particularly good) news of the charting kind: Ones and Sixes earned Low the group’s first-ever U.K. Top 40 album, coming in at #35 on the official albums chart. The album also entered at #68 here in the U.S. on SoundScan’s Top Current Albums charts.
At Radio, Ones and Sixes peaked at #7 on the CMJ Top 200 chart. In news of the on-air variety, the band have confirmed studio sessions at KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic” (November 16th), and have visited to WXPN’s “World Cafe” (“What Part of Me” & “No Comprende”), KCMP (view here), and more.
Ones and Sixes is also one of the best-reviewed albums of Low’s career with international acclaim from the likes of NPR Music, Paste, Rolling Stone, SPIN, Boston Globe, Pitchfork, Under the Radar, The Guardian, The Observer, DIY, Q, MOJO, Uncut, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Chicago Tribune, CLASH, The Sunday Times, Dusted, NOW, and more. And the band are the current cover stars of MAGNET’s September issue, interviewed by Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon (view cover / read an excerpt of the story here).
Low’s Ones and Sixes is available for purchase from the Sub Pop Mega Mart, iTunes, Amazon, and Bandcamp. Now completely sold-out through megamart.subpop.com, the limited “Loser Edition” of the double-LP on yellow vinyl and packaged in a variant slipcase cover is only available from select independent stores and from the band themselves at upcoming tour dates (while supplies last). Has it been a while since you visited the Mega Mart? Well, there are also two new T-shirt designs available both as individual items and as part of CD/LP bundles.
Nov. 11 - Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue*
Nov. 12 – Omaha, NE – Reverb Lounge*
Nov. 13 - Denver, CO - Larimer Lounge*
Nov. 14 - Salt Lake City, UT - The Complex*
Nov. 16 - Los Angeles, CA - The Troubadour*
Nov. 18 - San Francisco, CA - Great American Music Hall*