Low – Ones And Sixes
My eldest daughter had trouble falling asleep when she was a baby and I would have to walk her back and forth in the front hall of our house until she finally nodded off. To aid in this I would put on quiet music to help sooth her; her favourite piece to fall asleep to was Things We Lost In The Fire, Low’s 2001 masterpiece. It was soothing, contemplative, and sounded great even when you hushed the volume to barely audible levels.
Ones and Sixes, by contrast, would probably keep her awake (at least until “Landslide”). The slowcore veterans have picked up a certain level of production value over the years that tends to cancel out the quiet, brush-on-drum nature of their sound. This album is no different; many of the drum arrangements feels as though they were programmed, rather than teased out, and the exuberance with which they play actually has some dynamic and volume to it, a quirk that has become increasingly apparent ever since C’mon. “Landslide”, as I alluded to, comes the closest to the twilight lullabyes of their older work, but it’s the odd one out this time, rather than the standard. In a way it feels as though Low is now a different band than they were when they started out 21 years ago. Obviously this is true of most bands, but with Low you can really feel it. This isn’t music to drift off into dreamland to anymore, but rather music to wake up on a sunny spring morning to.
Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp
I’ve been waffling on what to say about this album. I finally got a full review hacked out yesterday, but I’m ditching it. It’s stilted, awkward, and reads like a “music review”, the kind you find in people’s zines or on some kid’s blog. So here we go, we’re just going to wing it today instead.
The things I like about Ivy Tripp are hard to articulate. They’re more sense impressions than anything else. When I listen to it I feel like I’m standing in a copse of trees, staring out into the line of trunks, smelling the acrid scent of burning wood, and wondering what the hell to do next. The leaves under my feet are dry, and give a satisfying crunch when I walk on them. The air is cold and smells like autumn dying, like winter trashing around in the womb, getting ready to be born. The fire nearby is crackling, throwing off heat in an all-too-small radius. Inside this circle of trees and the smaller circle of fire-warmth I’m safe. Outside, the world blurs by in increasingly unrecognizable ways. Outside there are no careers, just an endless parade of jobs and contracts. There are no houses, because they’ve been neatly priced out of our reach. There is no direction to go in, because all directions are equally shiftless. Outside is a desert stretching in all directions, and the footsteps that lead away fade out after a time into nothing.
Inside, though, there is light, and warmth, for now. There is sadness, more of a heaviness than a bleakness, and there is uncertainty, but there is also beauty, and sweet wistful longing.
Actually, there might be a bit too much sadness. I fell for Katie Crutchfield on Cerulean Salt, mainly because of a shared adoration of crunchy, lo-fi 90s indie rock – your Pavement, your GBV, your Built To Spill. Ivy Tripp shows off a love of another peculiarly 90s kind of rock – the slowcore sounds of Low, Codeine, and Slowdive. This is admirable as well, but it makes the album drag out just a bit too long.