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Beat Jab: Olafur Arnalds, The Low Anthem

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Living Room Songs - SUBMITTED PHOTO

Beat Jab offers reviews in prose poetry form from 2011 Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Emerging Author Award winner Micah Ling and Beat Jab contributor Jay Cullis.

Olafur Arnalds
Living Room Songs
Erased Tapes

Music like this is often compared to icebergs floating in translucent blue seas. Icicles dripping from eaves, warmed by the slanted light of the mid-January sun. Brown grass tufted through piles of snow. This music moves slowly, building humbly, begging us to listen. But if we’re busy — cooking dinner, running on the treadmill, walking the dog or navigating a traffic jam — then we are missing the point. This is music meant to be listened to. Simply hearing it isn’t good enough. Letting it pass across your eardrum while you are distracted is not enough. This is music for rainy days. For sick days. This is music for January, when we nurse our New Year’s hangovers and try to eat healthy and light. We need a soundtrack to accompanying our contemplation. Why did we eat and drink so much? Why are my toes so cold? Why can’t I stop coughing? Why does green tea seem like a viable alternative right now? We need music like this if only to convince us to slow down. To take it easy. Put away your headphones, turn down the lights. Sip your tea, take a mental health day and listen.

-Beat Jab contributor Jay Cullis

Smart Flesh - SUBMITTED PHOTO

The Low Anthem
Smart Flesh
Bella Union

Thanks to the phenomenon of iTunes and Spotify, it may seem like the album is dead; The Low Anthem would like to argue otherwise. “Smart Flesh” fits together like a collection of poems; in fact, at concert in Chicago last spring, Ben Knox Miller suggested that the title song of the album is like “the black hole that the rest of the songs fall into.” And it’s true. These songs do something together. Sure, “Ghost Woman Blues” could probably be played on repeat for an entire day, or week, or month without losing its haunting beauty, but really, matched with “Apothecary Love,” and “Wire,” and “Matter of Time,” and all the rest, it really is like consuming a complete meal. It wasn't all that long ago that these guys were playing in a trailer outside of Nashville, TN, to a crowd of 5 or 6. Before they toured with Ray LaMontagne, or Lucinda Williams or The Avett Brothers. But the thing they haven’t lost is their absolute sick love for the instruments. They rotate around the stage like dancers: they can each do so much. And with every song, things come together in a way that seems just orchestrated. This album is proof of things coming together.

-Micah Ling

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