It was an interesting juxtaposition that was placed before me last Thursday evening. Streams of red and white light whisking down 59th street lit up most of the big city backdrop. So too did the stacks of glittering penthouses overlooking Central Park, and the plumes of smoke rising from the power plants along the river. Gotham, in all its modern glory, stood proudly before me.
On stage however, a group of musicians gathered who, more or less, resembled a band of Civil War re-enactors. Between the four members of Providence Rhode Island's The Low Anthem, one can take stock of an odd collection of floppy leather hats, country leaning flannel ensembles, burlap vests, tin spectacles, and at least one magnificent mustache. The instruments they hammered away on also fit their antiquated look. Vintage rock gear outfit the sound. To accentuate, the band surrounded themselves with an impressive collection of woodwinds, antique drums, fiddles, hammer dulcimers, and what appeared to be a massive turn of the century pump organ (Ben Knox Miller's younger brother would pop out of the audience from time to time to turn the massive crank). That organ was apparently taken apart, shipped by professional movers and reassembled for the evening's concert. It would seem The Low Anthem's appearance as part of The Lincoln Center's "American Songbook" series was a very big deal indeed.
As it should've been. The Low Anthem have proven themselves an immensly talented outfit with a tireless work ethic to boot since rising to notoriety after the release of their 09 album Oh My God, Charlie Darwin. It's lead to a fond embrace by everyone from Bonnoroo neo-hippies to those more entrenched with traditional strings of folk music; partly because the band used that album to pair whiskey swigging rips of rough and tumble country folk with candle lit acoustic melodies.
But its a new collection of songs dubbed Smart Flesh that brought the band to the sparkling, intimate setting of The Allen Room at Lincoln Center. And if the performance was any indication of what is to come, the sound of that record, like the band's old fangled look, will turn the clock back further than they ever have before.
We'll know for sure on February 22nd, when Smart Flesh sees a release via Nonesuch Records. Until then, there are a few nuggets of what to expect floating around out there.
The band recently gathered around a single microphone to perform "Ghost Woman Blues" for David Letterman.
You can also download the album version of that song using the widget below.
Finally, you can pre-order Smart Flesh HERE. Or just check out the band on tour. Dates listed below.
The Low Anthem on Tour: 01/26/11 - The Wiltern - Los Angeles, CA
02/24/11 - Sixth & I Historic Synagogue - Washington, DC
02/25/11 - First Unitarian Church - Philadelphia, PA
02/26/11 - Brillobox - Pittsburgh, PA
02/27/11 - Cultural Center Theater - Charleston, WV
02/28/11 - Lincoln Hall - Chicago, IL
03/02/11 - Great Hall On Queen Street - Toronto, ON, CANADA
03/03/11 - La Sala Rossa - Montreal, QC, CANADA
03/04/11 - Old South Church - Boston, MA
03/05/11 - MASS MoCA - North Adams, MA
03/07/11 - SPACE Gallery - Portland, ME
03/18/11 - Cafe de la Danse - Paris, FRANCE
03/20/11 - Stadtgarten - Cologne, GERMANY
03/21/11 - Passionskirche - Berlin, GERMANY
03/22/11 - Loppen - Copenhagen, DENMARK
03/23/11 - John Dee - Oslo, NORWAY
03/24/11 - Pusterviksbaren - Goteborg, SWEDEN
03/25/11 - Uebel & Gefhrlich - Hamburg, GERMANY
03/27/11 - Flex - Vienna, AUSTRIA
03/28/11 - Salumeria Della Musica - Milan, ITALY
03/30/11 - Ampere - Munich, GERMANY
03/31/11 - El Lokal - Zurich, SWITZERLAND
04/03/11 - Ancienne Belgique - Brussels, BELGIUM
04/04/11 - Mousonturm - Frankfurt, GERMANY
04/05/11 - Paradiso - Amsterdam, NETHERLANDS
04/07/11 - Oran Mor - Glasgow, UNITED KINGDOM
04/08/11 - St. Philips Church - Salford, UNITED KINGDOM
04/10/11 - Vicar Street - Dublin, IRELAND
Mon 04/11/11 Queen Elizabeth Hall London, UNITED KINGDOM