As despondent as [lastfm]Radiohead[/lastfm], longing as [lastfm]Jeff Buckley[/lastfm], and beautiful as the best of the both, [lastfm]Low Roar[/lastfm] aka Ryan Karazjia releases his debut self-titled album on Tonequake this week. For fans of the above artists, atmospheric folk, and ghostly pop, and everything in between, allow me to introduce you to the album of Winter 2011.
First the obvious: Ryan wears his influences on his sleeve. “Nobody Else” channels Thom Yorke’s wounded wail and Jonny Greenwood’s understated electronic drum rhythms (think “Sit Down. Stand Up” from Hail To The Thief); “Patience” and opener “Give Up” channel Jeff’s reverbed croon; and so on. Of course, none of this should stop a fan from enjoying Low Roar, because even though the album is entirely referential it id far from tasteless mimicry. If you were a musician who left sunny San Francisco for the bitter chill of Reykjavik, what kind of music would YOU make?
Fortunately, Ryan is a talented singer/composer whose first solo output (he is a founding member of [lastfm]Audrye Sessions[/lastfm]) rivals the strongest of his influences’. The weight of displacement from one coast to another, the stress of this shift in climate, culture, and worlds prompted this collection of private folk songs. Breathtaking from the first note to the last whisper of reverb, Low Roar embodies the vibe of a lonely man in the middle of nowhere. Delicate piano and spare glockenspiel notes pitter-patter across lush, enveloping layers of vocals that come from one man as much as from a backing choir. His melodies are melancholic, but not unbearably so; as often as a chorus of “ooh’s” could jerk a tear, a light strum and wispy electronics trickle in and rescue the song from an emotional abyss. Like the best atmospheric pop records, Low Roar maintains this careful balance of despondence and hope, caressing the right amount of charm from both sentiments at just the right moments.
If your Last.fm chart reads anything like mine (i.e. Radiohead, Burial, Boards of Canada…), do not miss [lastfm]Low Roar[/lastfm]. You already love it.
Stand out tracks: “The Painter,” “Because We Have To,” “Nobody Else,” “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight.”
[lastfm]Low Roar[/lastfm] – Low Roar (Tonequake)
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1. Give Up
2. Just A Habit
3. Nobody Else
5. Low Roar
6. Friends Make Garbage, Good Friends Take It Out
7. The Painter
8. Help Me
9. Rolling Over
11. Because We Have To
12. Tonight, Tonight, Tonight