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The Low Anthem

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Biography

An eclectic project that's traversed traditional roots influences, conceptual psych-rock, and atmospheric folktronica, the Low Anthem formed in Providence, Rhode Island in 2006. Ben Knox Miller and Jeff Prystowsky, both students at Brown University, as well as late-night DJs at the school's radio station, drew upon their background as classical composers to help mold a unique brand of Americana that made room for gospel, folk, and blues. Jocie Adams joined one year later, and the Low Anthem began widening their arsenal of instruments accordingly, utilizing everything from World War I pump organs to crotales in the process. After making its independent debut with 2007's What the Crow Brings, the band rang in 2008 by temporarily relocating to Block Island -- a remote location 12 miles off the Rhode Island coast -- to record an album with producer Jesse Lauter. The stark, serene environment proved to be appropriate for the music, which the band initially self-released under the title Oh My God, Charlie Darwin. As their buzz continued to build, the Low Anthem signed a contract with Nonesuch Recordings and reissued Oh My God in 2009, supporting the release with a string of performances at summer festivals. Multi-instrumentalist Mat Davidson (Twain) was added to the lineup later that year, joining their ranks one month before the Low Anthem headed to Central Falls, Rhode Island, to record a third LP. Setting up a makeshift studio inside an abandoned pasta sauce factory, the group recorded Smart Flesh over a period of three months, making good use of the building's cavernous, resonant spaces. The album was released in February 2011 via Bella Union and cracked the Billboard 200. Davidson then parted ways with the group, and the following year saw the band provide the soundtrack for the American film Arcadia. In 2013 they decamped, in true Low Anthem fashion, to an abandoned opera house to begin work on their follow-up to Smart Flesh. With Adams leaving the group in the interim to pursue her own project, Arc Iris, the resulting Eyeland was issued by Washington Square Music in 2016. An ambitious, narrative-driven conceptual piece, it combined folk, psychedelic rock, and experimental elements. While on tour in support of the album, the group had another redefining moment when a van accident resulted in injuries and the destruction of many instruments. Miller, who escaped serious injury, spent the next two weeks using equipment in his bedroom to demo what would become the Low Anthem's fifth studio album. A quieter, more poignant concept album inspired by a Buddhist fable, the final version of The Salt Doll Went to Measure the Depth of the Sea was recorded after Prystowsky recovered from his injuries. It arrived via Joyful Noise in early 2018. ~ Andrew Leahey & Marcy Donelson
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