Friday, January 22, 2010

What to Do Tonight: Retribution Gospel Choir

Posted By on Fri, Jan 22, 2010 at 8:52 AM

Alan Sparhawk has spent more than 15 years fronting slow-core progenitors Low with his wife and partner in otherworldly beautiful vocal harmony Mimi Parker. Even though Low have loosened up their sound a bit over their past few releases, it’s easy to see them as a sort of musical dam. Their seemingly innate ability to keep the tempos slow and thick as molasses finally burst through the earthen walls that long held them back in the form of Retribution Gospel Choir, which was originally formed as a jam-session side project with Red House Painters and Sun Kill Moon frontman (and Massillon native) Mark Kozelek. The original lineup never released a record, but Sparhawk kept the project afloat with Low bassist Matt Livingston and No Wait Wait drummer Eric Pollard. Kozelek produced Retribution Gospel Choir’s self-titled debut and issued it on his Caldo Verde label in 2008. Sparhawk then inked a deal with Low’s label Sub Pop, which will release the unimaginatively titled but awesome 2 later this month. It is a pleasure to hear Sparhawk rock out, and he does so with abandon on highlights like “Hide It Away,” “Workin’ Hard” and the unimaginatively titled but awesome “Electric Guitar,” where you can almost hear the years of discipline necessary to maintain Low’s approach erupt out of Sparhawk’s squealing guitar. If Low are the musical dam, Retribution Gospel Choir are the gust that was an extremely long time coming. They play the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Hts., 216.321.5588, grogshop.gs), with Teenage Grandpa and Marathon opening at 9 p.m. Tickets: $8. — Chris Drabick

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