Low Red Land
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Low Red Land

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"SF Bay Guardian Feature, 2007"

"Go West, Young Band," a San Francisco Bay Guardian article based on an interview with Neil, by Duncan Scott Davidson (linked above and reprinted below):
"Sometimes you get lucky. Every week I have to find a picture to run in the club guide, and one week I picked Low Red Land. They later sent me a self-released 2006 CD titled The Weight of Nations. The disc stayed in my truck's deck for a week.
The trio of 26-year-olds — Mark Devito on drums, Ben Thorne on bass, and Neil Thompson on guitar and vocals — is also no stranger to intuition. Having met at Hamilton College in New York, they'd originally been a four-piece called Great American with another college buddy, Matthew Stringer. After graduating, the four moved to Boston, where they put out a self-titled, self-released EP and album. When Stringer left to go to med school, the rest of the bandmates knew they wanted to continue playing and move to San Francisco. They renamed themselves Low Red Land after a lyric in a Larry Jon Wilson song, 'Ohoopee River Bottom Land.'
The moniker is fittingly evocative: it speaks of the sage-and-sand-filled expanses of their journey west, of red dirt cliffs and winding rivers.
This unexpectedly rangy, Western feeling fills The Weight of Nations, though being from the 'totally podunk' coal-mining town of Shickshinny, Pa., Thompson can assure you that the East can be just as country as anywhere else.
While the album is 'intensely personal' for Thompson, it also contains subtly penned protest songs in the fine though rare tradition of Woody Guthrie's 'This Land Is Your Land.' 'You're Alive' is about the death of Thompson's childhood friend, Michael Cleary, a first lieutenant in the Army, in a roadside bomb attack in Iraq. And for me, that's the key to The Weight of Nations: the protests are personal, soaked in sadness, and set against the American tapestry in a way that calls to mind the poetic scope of Hart Crane's The Bridge. It's easy to see why the group has been likened to Crazy Horse, though I'd pick Creedence Clearwater Revival meets the Meat Puppets. 'As long as the bands aren't bad, I'm pretty psyched,' Thompson says of these comparisons. 'Somebody said we sound like the Dave Matthews Band. I was bummed out for the whole day.'" - San Francisco Bay Guardian, written by Duncan Scott Davidson


"The Oregonian Show Preview, 4/17/2007"

"There's a sweep to Low Red Land's music that does indeed sound geographic, a kind of twanginess that somehow invokes the West (they're from San Francisco; not exactly the kind of town that tumbleweeds blow through, but whatever, we still like the imagery). Their album's unapologetically lo-fi; they recorded it over two days in Arizona with no overdubs. They're at the Towne Lounge tonight if you want to give them an extended listen." (The text refers to our show in Portland, OR, at the Towne Lounge on 4/17/07.) - The Oregonian, written by Luciana Lopez


"West Coast Performer Magazine "Weight of Nations" review"

"There's nothing like a bunch of angry young men thrashing their frustrations out on some gritty, glittering, guitar-based riffs. Mark DeVito, Neil Thompson, and Ben Thorne are Low Red Land, a San Francisco-based rock band that falls halfway between grunge rock and alt-country. The band's lyrics sound more like spoken word and are treated as such; the ringing guitars take a backseat to the crucial phrases to make sure they are heard. In a strange mix of anger and optimism, 'Weight Of Nations' comes across as an album made by a bunch who sound - and perhaps feel - older than they are. Particularly engaging about this record are the subtle and well-placed expressions of disaffection with the contemporary political climate. 'Pontchartrain' begins with the line, 'We should not hide the scars of elections lost / But there's a dead man and he's floating in Pontchartrain.' In 'Hawks Die,' the vocals cry, 'The steam ship sank as the archers fired ... while senators think of the things they'll have to say.' The low-fi production is well suited to most of the record. However, the quality of the drum sound often drifts apart from the rest of the instruments, sounding disconnected. This flaw is unfortunate, considering that the songs are provocative and well-written. The title song wraps up the album with a banjo-picking dirge. In a most disturbing confrontation, Low Red Land asks, 'Will you be there when my face turns blue?' It feels more like a thinly-veiled request."
- West Coast Performer, written by Ali Marcus


"KQED 9/18/08 Review"

[Low Red Land] has recently been all over the local indie radar. Despite this band’s ability to play Show Previewheartbreakingly beautiful acoustic sets, their electrified show gets quite raucous. The new album “Dog’s Hymns” is a breathtaking combination of folky lyrics and phrasing over driving, distorted and sometimes feedback-laden guitars. Vocalists Neil Thompson and Ben Thorne are not afraid to tear their vocal chords, whether it’s in unison or in harmony. The song topics Low Red Land chooses are also quite uncharacteristic of their noisy indie or alternative counterparts. Instead of bedroom love songs and teenage angst, the band sings poetic tunes of gunfighters and ancestry. - KQED San Francisco


"The Onion AV Club 9/18/08 Feature"

Excerpt from Interview/Feature on LRL for CD Release 9/18/08 at Slim's, SF.

…Like a posse of pissed-off high-school history teachers armed with amps and calling [out] lies cloaked in lore, the trio weaves earnest lessons into brutal roots-laced rock worthy of beer-drenched basements, outdoor barbecues, and the odd taqueria. - The Onion AV Club


"Instrumental Analysis Review of Dog's Hymns 9/2008"

Springing forth from the revitalized Bay Area indie music scene, San Francisco's Low Red Land continue to impress with their latest, Dog's Hymns. Throughout the album the band takes spare folk and country melodies and morphs and bends them in unexpected and beautiful directions, often building to dramatic, noise-drenched conclusions.

The songs ebb and flow between alt-country twang and yelping harmonies, ATDI neo-prog freak-outs, the earnest post-hardcore of Sunny Day Real Estate and the driving, over-driven guitars of a Neil Young and Crazy Horse garage work-out. Even more impressive, each song flows into the next, the album as a whole comprising a single, fully realized composition. Truly heady stuff for their second full-length release.

I'd recommend grabbing a good pair of headphones, picking a particularly forlorn and rainy night, and immersing yourself in Dog's Hymns for a little while - it's that kind of record. - IA


"Buzzgrinder.com Low Red Land: Weight of Nations (review)"

Low Red Land has released an excellent entry in to the alternative country genre with their latest record Weight Of Nations. Names like Neil Young, Son Volt and to a lesser degree Mark Mulcahy come to mind while listening to the albums 9 tracks. The groups lo-fi inspired twang is quite infections and should appeal to most fans of the genre.
- Buzzgrinder.com


"The College Crowd Digs Me"

"There is something refreshingly real about this San Francisco band...Low Red Land...that borders on dangerous. With biting Southern tang mixed with some rural twang...one can almost imagine Steve Earle fronting for My Morning Jacket.
In fact, this three man forest fire (Ben Thorne, Neil Thompson, Mark DeVito) oft-times drifts into deliciously strange jams only to bring it all together with well-written lyrics delivered in Low Red Land style. Check these lyrics!
"There are people who hit so hard you lose your sense of fear, but you won't be spitting blood all by yourself."
(Dreams That Heroes Dream)
That's a bad-ass line.
And they seem to have many interesting ideas that fortunately will keep this band from becoming accursed as a one-note wonder. They offer mp3 samples [on their website].
Low Red Land is real, indeed. Good Stuff!" - The College Crowd Digs Me


"Wiretap Music Live Review 2/6/08"

I first heard Low Red Land on the Dragon Slayers Vol. 2 comp put out by Thread Productions. There isn’t a bad song on that disc, but Low Red Land’s stuck out in my mind because their song, “West Texas,� is named after my home state. And also because the guitars and vocals would stay in my head long after the disc stopped spinning.

Their live show was everything I’d expected: Loud, swelling guitars and desperately earnest, often shouted vocals. Indie punk and hardcore riffs atop driving rhythms. Sheer blasts of echoy guitar noise. It’s kinda like Fugazi meets post-rock, if you will.

But a surprise was in store at the end of the night, when the band closed their set with a quiet, all-acoustic number on banjo, guitar, and accordion. Singer/guitarist Neil Thompson didn’t sing into the mic, either, instead letting his vocal chords provide their own amplification, just as the other instruments were doing. It was a brilliant way to end the show, low red land acoustic.jpgdemonstrating a completely different side to the band’s talents.

Low Red Land has actually released one acoustic EP and plans to release another this year. They'll also be releasing their second electric album in 2008. You can catch Low Red Land play an all-acoustic show before they head out on tour through most of March.

Whether they’re electrified or not, the Low Red Land live experience will amply reward your attendance. - Wiretap Music


"The Bay Bridged Reviews"

Live Show Review 6/8/08

"Low Red Land: I first saw these three guys at the baybridged inaugural rooftop podcast and they definitely made an impression with what was a stripped-down, bring-your-own-banjo type of acoustic set. Then cut to Sunday, which was rock and roll, irrevocably. They played with energy (even more impressive because they’d just gotten off a plane from NY hours before the show) and a little twang, reminds me of Son Volt, not Wilco. The vocals have a Mountain Goats ring to them (another compliment, Go Wolfpack!), and the interplay–both instrumentally and vocally–between bassist Ben Thorne and guitarist Neil Thompson is spot on and harmonically gratifying. It drives fairly hard when it wants, tho, too. Think Arcade Fire, I don’t want to say Band of Horses, but I just did.

One way or the other it’s a very professional thing they’ve got going on. Drummer Mark DeVito is more than capable both as an anchor and a utility man, busting out the accordion now and again to sex up the mood while maintaining a steady kick snare. Impressive multi-tasking, Mr. Devito. So if you haven’t, go back and hear them for yourself, just search the baybridged archives and you’ll have access to the rooftop acoustic nice-nice.

But truth be told I preferred the Makeout Room set. I like them better as a rock band. They probably like them better as a rock band, too. It shows on their faces, that rock and roll. I know they’ve been around for a little while, they released a record in 2006, I mean they play around town, in NY and stuff, right. Whatever I’m new to them. And I’m happy to report that I’d place them–from what I’ve seen in SF of late–among the top-notch garage outfits in the City, with Thee Ohsees, Dodos, you know, Master/Slave and ‘em boys. How many times can I mention the Ohsees and Dodos and why isn’t John Dwyer on MTV yet what the tits, man? I’ve been waiting on True Life: I’m a Wylin’ Out San Francisco Garagista for months now. . . .

So, back to Low Red Land. Will I be there when your face turns blue? Maybe. Will I be at El Rio on the 4th of July to watch these three fellows and six other bands do it up. For sure, if it’s clever, that is, if I’m not drunk on a boat somewheres. In the meantime it’s off to Aquarius to dig for their CD."

9/14/07 Show Preview:

"Headliner Low Red Land has developed into one of the most promising bands in the Bay Area. Their first full length, 'Weight of Nations,' is very good, but the band has bested that record with an incendiary live show that is as engaging as is it is intense. Their newest songs seize on this potential, showcasing excellent control of dynamics and melody alike. '[T]he protests are personal, soaked in sadness, and set against the American tapestry in a way that calls to mind the poetic scope of Hart Crane's The Bridge.' (SF Bay Guardian) 'It's heartbreakingly good….and those dern lyrics will stick to yr insides like liver on a hot wall….Better than pudding.' (Pirate Cat Radio)"

July 2007 Band Feature:

"This week's featured band is Low Red Land, a San Francisco trio we've been impressed by since hearing their debut album, 'Weight of Nations,' almost exactly a year ago. Recorded live in two days, the album crackles with a dynamic blend of rock and roll and traditional Country & Western sounds mixed with personal lyrics drawn from the lives of the band members, long-time friends who moved together to San Francisco when the band started.
That album, though, was only the beginning. When we spoke with Neil, Mark and Ben last week, they discussed their plan to record a second album later this month and tour in the fall in support of that release. That tour will be their third nationwide trip in two-and-a-half years, in addition to several smaller tours and a multitude of performances locally, many alongside their fellow members of the Thread Productions collective.
Low Red Land's touring schedule is indicative of the discipline and commitment that seems to inform every aspect of the band, resulting in tight, dynamic songs informed by a well-honed musicanship. Along with the interview, we've included four songs in the episode, including a new song [a demo version of "West Texas] that shows where the band is headed and an acoustic track from an upcoming all-acoustic EP [referring to our first acoustic EP for Ghost Mansion Records]." - The Bay Bridged


Discography

Our releases include a few of home-made demos and our independent full-length, "Weight of Nations," released July 4, 2006. We also released an acoustic EP in August of 2007.
Our sophomore album, "Dog's Hymns," was released independently on September 18, 2008 at Slim's in San Francisco.

"Dog's Hymns" was also released on October 10, 2008 digitally through Thinker Thought Records.

Photos

Bio

Low Red Land is a three piece comprised of long time friends Ben Thorne (bass and vocals), Neil Thompson (guitar and vocals), and Mark DeVito (drums). They met in New York while in college and later moved to Boston to play in a now defunct band. After a few years they split from their old band, took a chance, and moved to San Francisco; a town that is known for a million things, none of which include a particular affinity toward anything even resembling a twang. But that hasn't mattered much. Since their arrival to the city they have found a great deal of inspiration, not to mention fans.

Low Red Land have created a sound that is quite unique, yet gratifying and familiar. They merge layers of rock, folk, country, and hardcore to create songs that are intensely dynamic. Their lyrics have been described as "subtly penned protest songs," but these protests are personal while still being poignant. The band, however, won't tell you any of this. The guys of Low Red Land prefer to just say, "Come see us play a show. We are awesome." Their consistently growing and ever loyal fan base seems to agree with them. They have been criss crossing our nations highways for the past two years with great dedication, collecting numerous rave live reviews and drawing in new fans at every stop. With more than 300 shows already played, the band has no plans to slow down. Look for them in a city near you.

In the past three years Low Red Land have released two full length albums and one acoustic EP by themselves. They have also successfully booked and promoted over 300 shows around the country with no outside help. The band is a true example of the DIY ethic, working to build a strong and loyal following around the country. They plan to continue their assault on US highways, and they also plan to tour Japan and Europe in 2009/2010.