Aug 252013

They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

Forty-six years old. In some ways, it’s hard to believe that Jeff Tweedy, the songwriting genius behind Wilco, has hit his late forties. On the other hand, think back, way back through his recorded output. When Wilco released their first album 18 years ago, Tweedy was already a groundbreaker, having co-founded Uncle Tupelo with Jay Farrar eight years earlier. Together, they practically invented the genre of alt-country before their acrimonious split, when Tweedy was just 26 years old.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Tweedy assembled Wilco out of the ashes of Tupelo’s touring band and slowly built a following. The band teetered on the edge of disaster when they presented their masterpiece Yankee Hotel Foxtrot to their label, only to have it rejected. Instead of going back into the studio to record a boy-band album or whatever the hell the label wanted, they bought the master tapes back and walked. Eventually they signed to a subsidiary of the same company (go figure), and the album came out and went gold. From there on, Tweedy & Company have continued to push the sonic envelope and remain just as vital as ever.
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Mar 152013

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

On December 27, 1967, Columbia Records released an album by a folk musician and a true poet (not necessarily in that order). It was different than anything he’d released before, but there was an audience for this new/old sound of his, and over the years, as the mysterious yet straightforward lyrics were analyzed and treasured in equal measure, the critically acclaimed album grew to be understood as a genuine classic, one that new generations discover and longtime owners rediscover to this day.

That album is, of course, John Wesley Harding by Bob Dylan. Funnily enough, you can describe Songs of Leonard Cohen exactly the same way, right down to the day it was released. Continue reading »

Feb 082012

Celebrating their 50th anniversary The Chieftains will mark the occasion with the release of Voice of Ages on February 21. The album features the torch-bearers of traditional Irish music collaborating with  stars from the worlds of indie-rock (Bon Iver, The Decemberists, The Low Anthem), country and Americana (The Civil Wars, Pistol Annies, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Punch Brothers), Irish and Scottish folk (Imelda May, Lisa Hannigan, Paolo Nutini) and more. Continue reading »

Jan 062012

Once an artist decides to interpret a cover rather than perform it faithfully, they generally opt to either increase or decrease the energy of the original performance, instilling it with either more rock drive or quiet intimacy. In their original songs, Providence folkies The Low Anthem sit decidedly on the most delicate side of that spectrum, to the point that it wouldn’t seem possible to make their songs more mellow. Much to my our surprise, though, Brooklyn-based Firehorse frontwoman Leah Siegel pulls off that exact feat in her new video for The Voice Project, with strikingly beautiful results. Continue reading »

May 192011

We’ve featured a few covers from The Voice Project here already, but every video they post is just as brilliant as the next. In support of the charity’s effort to raise money for women in Uganda, Rhode Island folkies The Low Anthem recently assembled backstage before a concert at Boston’s Old South Church to play “The Mermaid Parade,” written by Matthew Houck under his moniker Phosphorescent. The cathedral setting and the intimate circle of musicians both fit TLA perfectly, reflecting the delicacy and beauty of their sound and back-porch singalong performing style. Add this one to our Low Anthem live collection! Continue reading »

Apr 052011

Fresh off the release of their latest album, Smart Flesh, The Low Anthem recently joined The A.V. Club in Chicago to contribute to the newest Undercover series, recording Wilco‘s “A Shot In The Arm.” Surely you know the routine by now: indie-type band gets to choose a track from a list of songs compiled by Club editors and then squeezes into the Club’s postage-stamp sized studio to perform the track. Diehard Americana artists The Low Anthem don’t take a huge stylistic leap in covering Wilco, and covering Danzig or Toto would have been more creatively daring!

The band produces an interesting result nonetheless, giving us a more subdued take on the song. Sparsely instrumented, with organ, bass drums, clarinet and saw (?!?), the song now sounds quiet and regretful as opposed to the naked desperation apparent in the original. Check out the video below.

The Low Anthem – A Shot in the Arm (Wilco cover)

Check out more from The Low Anthem on their website.