Live Review: Low, Mike Noga, Jep & Dep

9 April 2016 | 10:16 am | Ross Clelland

"Low is a riddle. Those who get the punchline leave besotted."

More Low More Low

The girl behind the bar was quizzing earlycomers: “So, what’s this band like?”

With Low, that’s the easiest and hardest question.

“They’re quiet,” someone said.

“It’s called ‘slowcore’,” offered another guy.

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

“Who else do they sound like?,” she tries again.

“Yo La Tengo?”


The replying look is politely blank. We’ll try and explain later.

The thumbnail of Jep & Dep might be a bit simpler. Acoustic Australian-made Americana (Australicana?).Their voices mixing light, and a lot of dark. Default setting, heartbreak. Even in dreams of escaping to My Berlin, only to find it disappointingly gentrified.

Meantime, Mike Noga is the guy on next barstool mixing a Ballad Of An Ordinary Man with that story about embarrassingly fanboying over Mick Fleetwood. Even without future national anthem All My Friends Are Alcoholics getting a run, his long-coming album is even more eagerly awaited.

Conversely, you don’t feel you could just go up and hug Low. Alan Sparhawk doesn’t even acknowledge the often pin-drop quiet audience until about two-thirds through — and then only to chide Australia’s ‘smartass’ online song requests. But there is something inexorable, tidal, about their music. This is not typical rock fare of songs rising to climaxes. Mimi Parker’s sometimes thudding, sometimes martial drums and counterpoint voice just seem to crack at the right emotional moments in songs like Landslide or the odd archaeology of Plastic Cup, as Sparhawk’s guitar and Steve Carrington’s organ or bass break into cacophony. Then it all slips away again.

It can be compelling. There are people in this room lost in their own little worlds. For the less invested, sometimes you’re left adrift until an On My Own or an unexpected cover of Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together snares you. Low is a riddle. Those who get the punchline leave besotted.