Record Review: Low’s C’mon

Low: C'monLow: C’mon (Sub Pop, 4/12/11)

Low: “Try to Sleep”

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After more than 15 years of stringing together grim, minimalist lullabies that are equally at home on long walks through moonless winter eves or in well-lit churches, slowcore stalwart Low has begun to experiment a bit more with the trappings of, and opportunities created by, modern music. On its ninth record, C’mon, the band blends its signature brand of melancholia with bouncing, uptempo electronic textures, giving the 11 songs a lively, volatile feel.

In the third track, “Witches,” guitarist/singer Alan Sparhawk advises listeners to confront their problems with a baseball bat, and in the same spare voice, he tells guys who “are trying to act like Al Green” that they are weak. He sings this over drummer/vocalist Mimi Parker’s characteristically haunting “ooos” and “ahhs,” while a choppy, lighthearted guitar riff drifts over barely audible acoustic-guitar (or banjo?) plucking. Much like the song “Hatchet” on the band’s previous effort, Drums and Guns, “Witches” is a catchy number that adeptly references select facets of pop-music history and, in doing so, reveals a playful side of the band.


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Cosmos Records

Behind the Counter: Cosmos Records (Toronto, ON)

Each Tuesday, Behind the Counter speaks to an independent record store to ask about its recent favorites, best sellers, and noteworthy trends.

For more than a decade, independent record store Cosmos Records has supplied the Toronto area with hard-to-find vinyl releases. In addition to its flagship Queen St. West location, a sister store specializing in hip-hop and soul records opened down the street in 2005. Owner Aki Abe is known for his encyclopedic knowledge, an expertly cultivated record selection, and his downtown-Toronto nightclub, Una Más. Below, Abe answers a few questions, and Cosmos employees show off their favorite records.

Cosmos Records
Aki Abe holds Machine: s/t

What was your motivation for starting a music store? / What is your background in music?

In the late ’80s, I used to wholesale rare disco and soul LPs to Japan, which paid for my college tuition. I always seemed to obsess about something, whether it was rare action-figure erasers in grade two or obscure soul LPs I’ve never seen. If I didn’t open a record store, my apartment would’ve burst. I have no background in music.