Oakland-based post punk trio Low Praise — Andrew (drums), Chris (guitar vocals) and Warren (baritone guitar, vocals) — have specialized in the sort of nervous energy paired and chanted hooks that bring late 70s post-punk bands like The Fall and Wire to mind.
Low Praise’s full-length debut DRESSING is slated for a May 19, 2023 release. Recorded over the course of two sessions split apart by the peak of the pandemic, the album captures the band being forced to evolve and collaborate remotely, leading to experimentation in song structure and their overall sound. When the band was able to reconvene, they were able to reimagine the material in a stripped down, live band format. The end result reportedly sees the band writing material that’s their most diverse and wide-reaching while touching upon the anxiety and helplessly they individually and collectively felt during the pandemic.
Last month, I wrote about “Forget That It’s Summer,” a single built around looping and angular, reverb-drenched guitar attack and a nervous, motorik groove paired with chanted, mantra-like hooks. Sure it brings Wire, The Fall and even Blessing to mind, but it also manages to evoke an eerily family existential dread and despair.
“‘Forget That It’s Summer’ was the first song we wrote together during the Covid depths, during our shared peak fear, anxiety and loneliness,” Low Praise’s Warren says in press notes. “As a band that had always jammed stuff out in person and worked off that energy this song was originally composed through chopping up loops, file sharing and experimentation. We actually built a complete version of this song as a weird loop construct with a ton of layers, mostly as a way to still make something, anything together during that self-imposed separation. We then reconstructed it as a stripped down live band version once we could finally get together again. So I think you kind of still hear that in the song that it was born from a pretty different process.
Thematically, this was a period where I think we were all mega-bumming and at the same time getting the immense appreciation and perspective for all of the little things you take for granted in normal life that we all lost access to during that period. Just being able to see your friends, make music together, have physical contact with the people you love. It was a period of forced reflection and forced appreciation. All put to a dance groove for some reason.”
“Time Is Calling,” DRESSING‘s second and latest single is built around a decidedly 120 Minutes-era alt-rock take on post-punk featuring a sort of jangling guitar attack, thunderous drumming and the band’s penchant for pairing arena rock friendly hooks with an unerring sense of melodicism. But much like its predecessor, the song is rooted in existential dread — of time and peers passing you by while your life seemingly sputters in front of your eyes. In this line of work, the bitter feeling of failure is all too familiar.
“This song is about accepting impermanence. Like a lot of folks the past few years (especially), I was riding a wave of anxiety, depression, and uncertainty of what the future was going to be like. At the time I was nearing 40, unemployed due to Covid related layoffs, filled with existential dread, and pondering what I’ve done with my life and what to do with the rest of it,” Low Praise’s Chris Stevens explains. “I’d often wake up in the middle of the night with all of these thoughts and try to find a way to calm myself down in order to get a couple of hours of sleep. I already had the phrase ‘time is calling’ in my head, along with the main guitar riff and vocal melody. So, I would just run through lyric ideas based around that until I’d eventually fall asleep. When we all got together to go over the song idea, we ended up fleshing out the basic structure in one night pretty much. It’s just one of those songs that felt strong and we didn’t want to overthink too much.”