Wonderful things have a way of starting out in the smallest of ways. For example, a reinvigorated theatre that’s continuously adding to the dynamics of a city’s music scene came back to life when a band rented out studio space within the building to create a new album. That’s what happened to the Columbus Theatre in Providence’s west end, when the Low Anthem started recording what is now known as Eyeland, the band’s fifth studio album that’s officially out today.
It shows the Low Anthem’s sound, with music written by Ben Knox Miller and Jeff Prystowsky, going into a more psychedelic route while sustaining the Providence group’s folk roots. With Florence Wallis and Bryan Minto adding numerous audial dimensions within the record, it’s truly a unique listening experience from start to finish.
And the record is indelibly tied into the Columbus Theatre, now a central hub for the arts in Providence.
“It’s a unique opportunity to tell the story in light of the reopening of the Columbus Theatre and the album that began it all,” says Prystowsky. “At first, five years ago, all we set out to do was record what became Eyeland. We had no plans to stay any longer. Now, fast forward five years, and strangely to us, we have completed a metamorphosis into a band that helps run a place like the Columbus Theatre.”
In those five years, The Low Anthem have joined up with Supply & Demand Music’s Tom Weyman as the Columbus Cooperative. Together they’ve put on a unique array of events including live music, film screenings and even a few TED talks since reopening the room in 2012.
On Eyeland, the album starts off with the ambient introduction of “In Eyeland”, which has Miller singing over a series of mellow tones and sonically inclined piano keys. A track that’s a highlight of Eyeland is “The Pepsi Moon”, an excellent example of the Low Anthem retaining their signature folk sound while not being afraid to incorporate different styles to keep things original. A trumpet being present in the distance adds an interesting element to a song that has a stripped down vibe. With an electronic beat anchoring the base, “In The Air Hockey Fire” has Miller telling a story about his youth while growing up in New York when his friend’s house burnt down due to a socket in the air hockey table in the basement catching fire. The notion of picking up the pieces of what’s left and persevering through difficult times can resonate with anyone.