Two weeks ago, it was Cloud Cult. This week, you can stream the brand new Low album at the NPR Music site, a great promotional avenue in the indie world. “The Invisible Way” comes out next week (March 19) via Sub Pop, and if you don’t read any music blogs or listen to the Current, then you might not know it was produced by Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy at his band’s studio/rehearsal space in Chicago – same place where Tweedy helmed Mavis Staple’s last record (a Grammy winner) as well as her upcoming disc.
Last week, Low’s own frontman Alan Sparhawk recounted how Tweedy focused more on the technical aspect of the recording instead of the artistic side: “Jeff told us up front, ‘You guys know how to do what you do. I’m not going to be concerned with that.’ So he focused his energy more on making sure everything sounded right and there was the right energy in the room — which he was good at, since it’s his room.”
Look for a full feature on the new record (the Duluth band’s 10th in 20 years) in Sunday’s newspaper. One part not covered in the article was Sparhawk’s explanation for the trio’s gradual return to the quieter, somber sound of its early albums, a transition that has been gradually in the works since its 2005 noisy masterpiece “The Great Destroyer.” He said, “I think ‘The Great Destroyer’ was about as far as we wanted to stretch the boundary, sort of a turning point. Since then, we’ve been scaling back. I sort of see it like I’m getting myself out of the way of the music more, holding back more. There’s a lot less ego in it now.”
Of course, it probably helps that Sparhawk gets in plenty of heavy guitar work (and ego) in his other band, Retribution Gospel Choir, which also just released a two-song – but full-length – album titled “3.” Wilco guitar wiz Nels Cline (who has been pals with Low since his days in the underrated L.A. band Geraldine Fibbers) guested on both the RGC record and Low’s last record, 2010’s “C’Mon.” For its Twin Cities release party, Low is welcoming the members of Trampled by Turtles as collaborators for a special “Current Sessions” taping at the Fitzgerald Theater on April 23 -- now a sold-out show.