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Intelligent Design 

Soundbites: Intelligent Design, Pass it On, Bite Torrent

Published April 8, 2009 at 5:28 a.m.

Since September of last year, I’ve taken every chance I could get to rave about the unbridled indie-folk brilliance that is Providence’s The Low Anthem. And, fortunately, there have been numerous occasions to do so, as they’ve made Vermont a regular stop on their regional itinerary.

So, even though in the last seven months I’ve reviewed their CD, interviewed the band, and run a few spotlights and column blurbs about them, I’m gonna pimp TLA again. Go ahead, call me a fanboy. I don’t care, because they’re just that good. Simply put, The Low Anthem are the best thing to come out of Buddy Cianci Jr.’s mafia wonderland since Del’s Lemonade and the Awful Awful — where my Little Rhodies at?

And I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Since I reviewed Oh My God, Charlie Darwin in the September 8, 2008, issue of Seven Days, TLA have pretty much blown up. Rolling Stone, Paste, National Public Radio and a host of other national media outlets have praised the band’s ingenious arrangements and swirling harmonies as the cutting edge of new American folk. Bet you didn’t know your friendly neighborhood music critic was so influential on a national scale, did you?

Well, he’s not. I just happened to get to the album first, which was more a product of the band’s tour schedule than anything else. Still, first is first. So take that, David Fricke!

In further “I told you so” news, last week, TLA announced they had signed with Nonesuch Records, home to folks such as Wilco, The Black Keys, The Magnetic Fields and some guy named Eno. Although, the band did post the announcement on April 1…

This just in: My fact checker informs me it’s not an April Fool’s joke. Nonesuch Records. Rerelease on June 9. Thanks, Google.

Self-congratulatory folly aside, I’m not kidding when I tell you that The Low Anthem are deserving of every accolade and achievement that comes their way. The news of the Nonesuch signing is proof that, even in an age when “American Idol” rejects dominate the charts and folks like Paris Hilton are famous just for being famous (and super slutty), genuine artistry is sometimes still rewarded.

So, to repeat: The Low Anthem are in Vermont this week and you really ought to go check ’em out. Sunday night you can catch them at the grandest stage in all the land, the Flynn MainStage, opening for pop troubadour Ray Lamontagne. The following night, Montpelier’s Langdon Street Café hosts the Ocean State trio for what will likely be an increasingly rare opportunity to experience the band in such cozy confines. I mean, can Rolling Stone, NPR and yours truly all be wrong?

Well, yes, actually. But trust me, this time we’re not.


Remember Telephone? No, not those clunky old devices people once used to communicate before the iPhone and Twitter made it possible to talk without actually, you know, talking — or thinking. I mean the game Telephone.

Let me refresh your memory. One person whispers a sentence into the ear of the person seated next to him or her. Let’s say, “I like chocolate.” That person then repeats the sentence, to the best of his or her understanding, to the next person. And that person tells the next person. And that person tells the next person. The fun continues until the message reaches the last person in line, who then repeats what he or she heard aloud. The idea is that each generation of the sentence degrades in accuracy so that by the time the last person receives it, “I like chocolate” has turned into “Phish is getting back together.” And that, children, is how the Phab Phour reunited. True story.

Film curator Brian Dougherty-Johnson has taken the Telephone concept and applied it to film with a mind-bending visual romp entitled Psst! 3. The film is made up of 17 collaborative shorts, each of which is told in three parts by three separate teams of artists, directors and animators. The result is the celluloid equivalent of a mashup, combining a diverse array of styles, filmmaking techniques and stories. Based on what I’ve seen — which involved a flying sword, a bunny and a Victorian lady astronaut — it promises to be a wild ride.

(Not to play spoiler, but things don’t work out so well for the bunny, I’m afraid.)

This Thursday, at Merrill’s Roxy Cinema, Tick Tick and Matchless Music present a screening of Psst! 3, which also features a score from Burlington resident and Matchless Music founder Ben Jastatt. And the $5 ticket grants you admission to the after party at JDK following the show.


Speaking of Matchless Music, local dad-rocker Aaron Flinn — that’s not a slight; he’s a dad and he rocks — has just announced a deal with the online licensing company, which offers independent music for use in movies, TV, video games and, apparently, experimental films.

Flinn isn’t the only one getting in on video games. Recently, James Kochalka had a strange dream. He detailed the dream, in which he invented and played a video game starring himself, in his “American Elf” comic strip on March 27. About a week later, he was contacted by an unnamed designer who — get this — actually made the game. In his dream and the game, Kochalka’s character is a (presumably clothed) “Superstar” version of Link from Legend of Zelda. Unfortunately, the game is currently only available for PC. I use a Mac, so I guess I’ll wait for the Xbox 360 version. PC users — or Mac users with Crossover — can download the game for free at

The Walden Project, in association with the Willowell Foundation, will host its annual benefit to benefit, well, itself this Friday at Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater. Scheduled to appear are Alexandria Hall (aka tooth ache.), Fiona Spencer, Jeff Spencer (of late Burlington outfit Pinhead), Sam Bevet and Vermont’s most righteous babe, Anaïs Mitchell.

This just in from local reggae outfit Pulse Prophets, who wrap up their recording residency at Nectar’s this Monday: The band has signed a licensing deal with European label Cleopatra Records. In celebration they’ll be shooting video footage of their Nectar’s gig. Concert vids always look better with a crowd, so do the band a solid and check ’em out.

And finally, there’s a new metal supergroup in town. Called Demigoat, the band features Five Seconds Expired front man Jeff Howlett; Amadis guitarist Franky Andreas and his former Portugal Towers mates, bassist Ben Glassman and drummer Seth “No Nu Metal is Good Nu Metal” Gunderson; as well as guitarist Tim Niemic. What is a Demigoat, exactly? Loosely speaking, it’s half goat, half machine … and all rock. Catch the band this Tuesday at the Higher Ground Ballroom with All That Remains, August Burns Red and Born of Osiris.

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About The Author

Dan Bolles

Dan Bolles

Dan Bolles is Seven Days' assistant arts editor and also edits What's Good, the annual city guide to Burlington. He has received numerous state, regional and national awards for his coverage of the arts, music, sports and culture. He loves dogs, dark beer and the Boston Red Sox.


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