06.09.13 — “Heavy Hander” by Lowpines


If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Heavy Hander” by Lowpines (2012, from the Give Me a Horse EP).

Lowpines is a folk-rock/Anglo-Americana duo from London. I know nothing at all about them.

Everything that I’ve read about this band says “they sound like Smog” or “they sound like Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy“. I guess I get that. For me, though, it’s something more familiar. More comforting. I’m reminded quite a bit at times of Sufjan Stevens. At least Illinoise-era Sufjan. I’m also, in a weird way, reminded of Glow-era Innocence Mission. Not that this girl sings like Karen Peris (and there never were any coed harmonies to speak of in the Innocence Mission). Just that the whole thing reminds me of the whole Innocence Mission thing. And if you haven’t listened to Glow in a while, you should absolutely listen to it as your “extra credit” listening tonight. You won’t be sorry.

I found Lowpines back in February when they had a stunning Daytrotter session. After I listened to that session about a dozen times, I went searching for more from this band. At the time, their only release was the 2012 EP Give Me A Horse. Not only could I find very little about them on the interwebs, but their own Facebook page had almost nothing to offer in the way of biographical info. And when I say “very little”, I really mean “nothing”. Not even their names.

Just now, I dug deeply enough to find an interview with the duo, and found out enough to know that their names are Oli Deaken and Lyla Foy. In that interview, when they were asked if they intentionally put themselves in a shroud of mystery, they sort of dodged the question, but gave this:

If people are looking for something about Lowpines I’d always prefer that they found a song first rather than a biography or press shot. It’s still a very new project so the music is very much the focal point.

So anyway, forget the biographical information. Just listen to their songs. Especially this one:

“Heavy Hander” by Lowpines

There’s the lush vocal harmonies. There’s the prominently featured tambourine. There’s some melancholy. Everything that you might expect given that I just said that it reminds me of both Sufjan Stevens AND The Innocence Mission. And then there’s that guitar. That wonderful warbly guitar. Like when you used to leave your cassette tapes in the back seat of your car on a hot day and the shell would swell and the magnetic tape itself would get all messed up. Sure, you could break open the tape and transfer the spools of tape to a different shell, but the damage had been done. Things sounded like that warbly guitar bit. If you were lucky. It’s a wonderful sound, and while it’s like a lot of other things, the first thing that comes to my mind is “Planned Obsolescence” by 10,000 Maniacs. And that’s a good thing.

Two months ago, the band released another EP called Avenue Blues, which I am downloading as I type this.

The Give Me a Horse 3-song EP is available as a FREE download from the band’s Bandcamp page here.

The Avenue Blues 4-song EP is available at the “name your own price” price from the Bandcamp page here.

You can get the splendid Daytrotter session here. The version of “Heavy Hander” on that session is quite different from this version. The guitar isn’t as warbly. The tambourine isn’t there at all. The vocals (especially Oli’s) are more haunting. That song alone is worth your monthly membership dues. Speaking of which…

I’m always going on about this, but you really should join Daytrotter if you haven’t. They recently had to change the subscription rate for new subscribers from the low low price of $2/month to the still low low price of “just 4 damned bucks a month”. You get new music every day from up-and-coming artists, unlimited downloads of the back catalog, streaming concerts, and much much more. Often times, the Daytrotter session versions of songs are much better than the album versions. In this case, it’s just “different”. As an example, though, the Daytrotter version of “Avalanche” by Zola Jesus is much better than the album version. Learn more about subscribing, and tell them that I sent you by clicking here.

About dlee

North Carolina born and bred. I'm a restaurant guy who spends free time listening to music, watching hockey and playing Scrabble. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and I will most likely never put it to use. View all posts by dlee

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