2008 Best Music Poll Winners


What the Crow Brings, The Low Anthem

“It was a quirky record with a lot of narrative content and a lot of people responded to the lyrics,” Jeff Prystowsky says about the Low Anthem’s debut, What the Crow Brings. “It has a straightforward and honest quality; we weren’t trying to hide anything or fool anyone. It’s not like a pop record at all. One person said it was as if we hadn’t heard the last 20 years worth of music when we recorded it. Which could be true!”

It wasn’t easy. Jeff and Ben Miller — newest member Jocelyn Adams joined at the tail end — set out to make the record by themselves. Only problem was, no one in the band possessed much technical know-how. “Our learning curve was really steep,” says Jeff. But because of those rudimentary skills in the studio, the record boasts a complete lack of pretense. “I want to make records that people can listen to over and over and over,” says Ben. “We want it grounded deeply into some kind of tradition. There’s a strong reaction for bands doing something straightforward, because so many bands hide behind irony or humor and put a distance between the audience and the performers. Some bands hide because they don’t want to seem like they believe in what they do.”

That’s not the case with the Low Anthem. Ben, Jeff, and Jocelyn exist in something of a vacuum and they like it that way. “You think you know what’s going on,” says Ben, “but I’ve been realizing I feel more and more out of touch with what’s indie all the time. I don’t know how rock and roll is developing. I don’t understand it and it certainly hasn’t crept into our music. There’s a naïve quality to us. We’re not hip and we don’t do well with the hipster crowd.”

Despite the uncertainty, the Low Anthem sold more discs than they anticipated and the success has bestowed them with plenty of emotional reinforcement. They’re working on album number two, due in September. “We’re learning to be freer,” says Jocelyn, a former classical composition student at Brown. “For me, working within this band has convinced me to open up musically. Studying composition was pretty lonely.”

They won’t be lonely in the studio this time; they’re working on the new album with an unspecified producer. “We’re driving each other crazy with our critiques of each other’s material,” says Jeff. “But we’re after a different vibe on this one, maybe not so much in a vacuum this time.”

— Bob Gulla

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