Release Date: Jun 17, 2014
Record label: Matador
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, New Wave/Post-Punk Revival, Experimental Rock, Hardcore Punk
Copenhagen’s Lower are the ‘sister’ band of Iceage, the two bands having toured extensively together and collaborated on an EP covering each other’s songs. And now, of course, they’re signed to the same international indie label – but ‘Seek Warmer Climes’ is not quite ‘New Brigade’ Part Two. A dour but enervating mix of post-punk and high-strung noise rock, it is nonetheless a thing of vulnerability and red-raw emotion.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Lower's 2012 debut EP, Walk on Heads, could so easily have been overlooked. Four tracks of dissonant, blink-and-you'll-miss-it hardcore that's over in a heartbeat (well, in less than nine minutes), the first release from the Danish quartet took no prisoners, but it did ask a lot of questions. Thankfully, those questions didn't fall on deaf ears, both in the thriving Copenhagen scene that they call home and internationally too.
Can we be honest for a second? Okay, thanks. For the past week, I’ve been dreading this review. Not that I have anything against Copenhagen’s Lower — seriously, they’re one of my favorite new acts — but as someone who’s finally drifted off his medication for bipolar disorder, the idea of spending countless hours with depressing existential post-punk didn’t exactly scream “healthy” or “fun.” In fact, that last word is something I’d never ascribe to the outfit, or their full-length debut, Seek Warmer Climes, for reasons I digressed at great lengths a couple of years back in my review of their exceptional eight-minute EP, Walk on Heads.
Copenhagen-based post-punkers Lower are cut from the same cloth as a whole subset of Danish punk bands growing during the early 2010s. Along with Pagan Youth, Hand of Dust, Sexdrome, the critically acclaimed Iceage, and others, Lower tap into the wiry, anxious angst of punk pioneers of the '80s and doomy indie bands of the early '90s. Though the sound throughout their debut full-length, Seek Warmer Climes, is firmly rooted in the influence of groundbreaking hardcore and post-punk, the band stands out somewhat from the crop by twisting in moments of art punk ennui and no wave dissonance.
The cover of the Copenhagen band Lower's 2012 EP, Walk on Heads, featured vocalist Adrian Toubro, head shaved, singing dramatically in a live setting. Its look and feel was reminiscent of an early hardcore 7", and the music itself possessed a similar kind of fury. Their full-length debut, Seek Warmer Climes, features a more romantic, refined image of a man in white lounging in the dirt, announcing a shift in Lower's sound.
Matador Records has a steady stable of rock bands pushing the limits and twist the expectations of punk sound and aesthetic. Currently, Fucked Up has blown hardcore wide open into their own brand of hooky arena rock. Savages deliver a serious post-punk palate as sharp and cool as a fresh blade. Iceage is so aggressive and unruly the band’s murky songs threaten to fall apart at any moment.
Copenhagen’s underground punk scene has been brewing up angst-ridden and pissed-off punk bands for some time now. Iceage of course waved the flag for Denmark’s oppressed-feeling teens when their debut album first dropped back in 2010, and their success at beguiling, amped-up no wave opened up the punk floodgates like a beckoning war cry. Though many bands have shared Iceage’s passion, there has only been one to date that has managed to share their absolute raw talent, and that band is Lower.
Sounding a bit like PiL had it been fronted by Strummer rather than Lydon, Lower play gothy, "angular" post-hardcore presumably intended to be enigmatically atmospheric. Sadly, the result is rather plodding, tuneless, and often literally yawn-inducing. So samey are these tracks that you could sequence them all in a completely different, random order, and the album would still sound exactly the same.
A clang of steel, a jangle of nerves, the gaping spaces left when songs are stripped of brawn: These have been the hallmarks of post-punk since the genre arose in the late ’70s as both a reaction against and an abstraction of punk. That context may be long gone, but post-punk has found innumerable new pathways through the decades. But that chrome-plated ghost of post-punk past has always lingered—a reflection of history that Lower’s debut album, Seek Warmer Climes, has hauntingly done away with.
Lower — Seek Warmer Climes (Matador)Lower has the sheer violence of adolescent ennui down cold. Everywhere, slow-rolling explosions, tangled claustrobias and screeching revulsions rise up out of tense staccato cadences. Picture a young man, consumed by boredom, drumming his hands and feet manically and occasionally throwing his head back to scream, and you’ve got the big picture.
Seek Warmer Climes, the new album from Danish quartet Lower, just might get its title from the chilly surfaces of the music itself. A fraught, anxious, icy forty minutes of post-punk, the record, despite regular bursts of kinetic energy and nervy boiling-points, nevertheless has the frost-rimed remove of Joy Division or Wire. The album’s ten songs are almost constantly in motion, but there is nevertheless a slow-phasing quality to Seek Warmer Climes, like time-lapse photography.
Following the path of their Danish music brethren such as Iceage and VÅR, Lower, the “downer punk” quartet based in the Scandinavian post-punk/hardcore hub of Copenhagen, is the most recent of the Nordic outfits to be making music blog news. The band first came onto the international scene with the short, four-track EP, Walking On Heads. And in those mere nine minutes, Lower embroiled listeners in lo-fi aesthetics and thrashing distorted riffs, conveying a sense of bleakness matched only by the dismally grey skies of their homeland.
opinions bySAMUEL TOLZMANN < @scatlint > Shamir, Northtown Pop music is teenaged Las Vegas singer-songwriter-producer Shamir Bailey’s oyster. His debut EP, Northtown, boasts five songs that sound like the work of the same utterly unique artistic voice without sounding much like one another, and which hearken back to very specific eras of America’s musical past without losing their grip on the here and now. Early single “If It Wasn’t True” is a classy disco kiss-off; “I Know It’s A Good Thing” rides a repetitive, vampy piano phrase like the hollowed-out memory of an classic house song.