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The Low Anthem: Jazz Fest Preview 

The Low Anthem

2 p.m. Saturday, April 30, Gentilly Stage

click to enlarge lowanthem.jpg

Americana doesn't get more American than the Low Anthem. Founded in 2006 at Brown University by classical composers, baseball teammates and college radio DJs Ben Knox Miller and Jeff Prystowsky, the Providence, R.I., quartet surveys mid-century church prayers and secular choirs, whiskey-voiced country hoedowns and whispered, finger-picked folk. Sophomore haunter Oh My God, Charlie Darwin (2009) was captured on a remote island miles off the New England shore; for 2010 evolution Smart Flesh (Nonesuch), the band inhabited a dilapidated tomato sauce factory. That these disparate homes could spawn such related, authentic faded Polaroids is evidence of the Low Anthem's head space — it could likely record a time-capsule classic atop the Space Needle so long as there was room for its dusty trunk of antique instruments, which includes World War I-era pump organs, crotales, singing saws and Jocie Adams' ethereal pipes. On sparse cuts "Love and Altar" and "I'll Take Out Your Ashes," frontman Miller reveals his impressive vocal range, moving from smooth androgynous harmonizing with Adams on the former to letting reedy breathers (backed by a buzzing shortwave radio) resonate off bare warehouse walls on the latter.


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