The Low Anthem's unique brand of Americana makes room for gospel, folk, and blues, a blend that began taking shape in their hometown of Providence, RI. Ben Knox Miller and Jeff Prystowsky -- both students at Brown University, as well as late-night DJs at the school's radio station -- formed the Low Anthem in 2006, drawing upon their background as classical composers to help mold the group's eclectic music. Jocie Adams joined one year later, and the group began widening its arsenal of instruments accordingly, utilizing everything from World War I pump organs to crotales in the process. After making its independent debut with 2007's What the Crow Brings, the band rang in 2008 by temporarily relocating to Block Island -- a remote location 12 miles off the Rhode Island coast -- to record an album with producer Jesse Lauter. The stark, serene environment proved to be appropriate for the music, which the band initially self-released under the title Oh My God, Charlie Darwin.
As their buzz continued to build, the Low Anthem signed a contract with Nonesuch Recordings and reissued Oh My God in 2009, supporting the release with a string of performances at summer festivals. Multi-instrumentalist Mat Davidson was added to the lineup later that year, joining the Low Anthem's ranks one month before they headed to Central Falls, RI, to record a third album. Setting up a makeshift studio inside an abandoned pasta sauce factory, the group recorded Smart Flesh over a period of three months, making good use of the building's carvernous, resonant spaces. The album was released in February 2011. ~ Andrew Leahey