State Of The Art: Rhode Island’s THE LOW CARDS
Hailing from Providence, Rhode Island, The Low Cards are a bluesy, swamp-rock three piece band led by frontman, singer/songwriter/guitarist Dan Baker. Baker has been writing music himself for some time; he has three solo albums where his first was released back in 2008. The Low Cards came to be when Baker joined up with bassist Brian Jablonski, who actually plays an upright bass, and drummer Matt Slobogan. Their debut, self-titled album dropped on November 29, 2017 and was recorded entirely live at Machines with Magnets in Pawtucket, RI. They did this with the intention to capture the raw intensity of their sound, and boy did they ever accomplish that. The audio was mastered together by West West Side Music out of New Windsor, New York. At first glance, The Low Cards have some musical resemblance to The Black Keys and in one track off the record I’m pretty sure they really wanted to be Johnny Cash, but the more you listen, the more you realize that these guys have a genuine sound of their own that I can’t seem to get enough of.
Baker’s lyrics, for the most part, focus on life and death. He’s a great storyteller about life and seemingly welcomes the idea of death. Being from a small town myself, his words and stories definitely hit home. For example, the first track, “Townie” is about just that; being born, raised, and dying in a small town. Baker does not hold back with his vocals. You can feel the emotion and inflection he uses to create his own sound, and when the rest of the band kicks in you know you’re in for something special. The second track, “Closer” is kind of like nothing I’ve ever heard before. The goofy guitar riff paired with the perfectly timed accent of Slobogan’s cowbell give this song the feeling of what you would expect to go along with a circus act. However, the lyrics go way deeper than that, as Baker talks about putting your ego aside and coming to grips with the nature of reality. I don’t want to focus too much on the individual tracks in this article, so I’ll leave that with what is probably my favorite line on the album. The third track and first single, “Suffer”, Baker says, “I don’t care if there ain’t no god. Though you might find it odd. I do suffer.” Between the context and the way he sings it, this part is just simply badass. The only problem with this band is their following is so small that it’s hard to find much information about them. They seem to tour rather locally around Rhode Island, which is ironic that a band with such a small notoriety is playing in a state smaller than most counties. They definitely deserve some publicity, which is the whole reason I’m doing this article. Hopefully we’ll see them grow and put out more music in the near future.
with The Quahogs, High Fascination, Avi Jacob
Providence’s Americana scene is very much a cornucopia of talents. There’s a motley crew of folky singer-songwriters, rhythmic bluegrass acts and bluesy rock bands that make up a unique community. The Low Cards are indeed a part of it and they put a swampy spin on the style with their self-titled debut that was released on November 29. Dan Baker slings on guitar while crooning a voice that’s reminiscent of both Tom Waits and John Fogarty. The rhythm section of Brian Jablonski on upright bass and Matt Slobogan on drums is the glue that holds everything together.
The band’s sound is like a jug band without a jug. They convey a vibe that’s energetic and fun much like an act that would be playing on a street corner with random instruments like a washboard and pots & pans. It’s an organic essence that brings about the comparisons. There’s no nonsense and each song off of the album is straight to the point. A thud is consistent throughout the album as well while adding emphasis and feeling.
“Road Outta Here” is a raw rock & roll track that’s about leaving things behind and moving on. There’s a steady build up in the beginning that leads to an abundance of twanging. With a steady backing coming from Jablonski and Slobogan, “Closer” has a jumpy structure and it’s one of the faster tracks off of the album. For the ones who like to reminisce about fancy cars, “Corvette” definitely goes out to them. It has a badass aesthetic that gives it a chance of being part of an action film soundtrack.
The Low Cards will be making a stop at The Grange in Providence’s west end on December 20th with MorganEve Swain from Brown Bird & The Huntress and Holder Of Hands. They’ll also be heading up to the Boston area on January 6 to rock Atwood’s Tavern in Cambridge, MA. Whether you can only catch one of the shows or you’re planning on being at both, grab a copy of the new album. Its honest rock & roll music done in peculiar ways.
75OL-260 The Low Cards – Self Titled
$10.00 S&H Included
$10.00 S&H Included
Digital download and streaming available here
4. Dead Man
6. Suffolk County Line
8. Ain’t My Home
9. All I Know
10. Road out Of Here
CD Release show!
164 Water St
with Muddy Ruckus and Zach Schmidt
Pump House Music Works
1464 Kingstown Rd