Comings and goings

Low Anthem, Scarce, Johnny Lingo, and more
By BOB GULLA  |  October 2, 2007

Low Anthem’s new record, What the Crow Brings, is a barnwood-built corncrib of pastoral vibes, delicate acoustic strums, and quaint rockers that recall the rustic hymns of the Band and the Scud Mountain Boys. The duo, Ben Miller and Jeffrey Prystowsky, recorded the album at home, capturing the simplicity of the material without dressing it down too much. The ornamentation is perfect and tasteful, and the album, moody and beautiful, reflects a talented act capable of great things. Ben answered a few questions about the disc.

Why did you choose to do the record yourself?
Three labels offered to take on and finance the project, but we didn’t want to be in debt to a record company when we could do the production ourselves.

Have you made a conscious decision to go it alone?
We’re not seduced by the idea of being on a record label. We don’t need that to feel legitimate. For us, independence is a matter of realism, not principle. We don’t care whether a band is DIY or signed, only that the music is inspired. And when a label comes along that can help us promote our art, we’ll know it.

What were the challenges of making this record on your own?
The only challenge was not driving ourselves insane! We’d spend eight hours honing a bass sound with a gazillion room mics and then throw the whole thing out. We spent eight months recording the record between tours.

How do you feel your abilities as recording artists have evolved since the first album?
The last record was done in live takes with five or so musicians at a time. On this record the arrangements were more complex and varied, and built around the backbone of a song. Jeff and I played like 25 instruments, overdubbing and honing things. It’s more like a sculpture where you chisel away at the silence, step back and look, chisel some more, step back, as you watch the arrangement emerge around a song.

Low Anthem + The Accident That Led Me To The World + Roz Raskin + Avy & Celia + Christopher Pappas + Annie Lynch | October 6 | AS220, 115 Empire Street, Providence | 8 pm | $10 | 401.831.9327

The return of scarce
The rumors are indeed true, says Larry Wallach. Scarce is reforming: “Chick [Graning] has moved back from Tennessee and he and Joyce [Raskin] are both pooling their songs and writing new stuff again. But no one wants to call this a reunion.” Wallach, who also represents Blizzard of ’78, will oversee the return of Scarce.
Graning and Raskin, and a handful of drummers, were the subject of a major label bidding war in the Nirvana-fueled alt-rock boom of the early ’90s. After three invincible singles, they signed with A&M. “Everybody I knows remembers the magic of seeing Scarce back then,” says Wallach. “They had something special. They were rock stars.”
Scarce’s debut, Deadsexy, came out in 1995 in England, to be followed by its US release. But then tragedy struck. When Graning didn’t show up for a rehearsal, friends found him near death, the victim of a brain hemorrhage. He spent the next nine months relearning how to be human. A&M released the disc in 1996, but by then the alt-movement had faded and the band soon dissolved. Perhaps Chick and Joyce are at last ready for their big moment? A low-key tuneup gig at T.T. the Bear’s in Cambridge is planned for Saturday (the 6th) and a Providence appearance, with somewhat more fanfare, is in the works.

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