Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Retribution Gospel Choir: Retribution Gospel Choir

Alan Sparhawk's main project, the Duluth slowcore trio Low, has cranked up the volume and feedback so much over its last couple of albums that Sparhawk's raucous side projects Black Eyed Snakes and Retribution Gospel Choir aren't as much of a surprise as they once were. Looking back, they now seem like ways for Sparhawk to experiment with new sounds before committing himself to adding them into the Low recipe. But there's still lots of ground to explore with RGC—he's able to go even further out into louder, harder-rocking territory, and he sounds as comfortable there as he ever did in Low's quiet, still spaces.

Originally a duo project with Sun Kil Moon's Mark Kozelek, RGC is now a Sparhawk-fronted trio also featuring Low bassist Matt Livingston, though Kozelek is still involved as producer. (It's his record label, too.) Two songs here first appeared on Low's Drums And Guns, and the changes are instructive: "Breaker" morphs from an organ-and-handclap-driven drone to one built around a thrashing guitar riff, with the urgency kicked up a notch. Better? Not exactly, but it's like watching two great actors interpret the same role in different ways—they're both right, and perfect for their context.

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