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Albums Of The Week: Lowest Of The Low | Welcome To The Plunderdome

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Lowest Of The Low’s sixth studio album Welcome To The Plunderdome features 12 self-produced tracks from the legendary Canadian Indie Rock Hall of Famers — and showcases a revitalized band deeply committed to delivering melodic and thought-provoking rock in their tried-and-true way: With all the passion and commitment of vintage punk.

The album’s first single and video, Hey Kid (You Got Soul!) features a strong ska element and sizzling guitars, clearly validating frontman and principal songwriter Ron Hawkins’ claim that Lowest Of The Low remain a band happily “full of piss and vinegar … It’s about a kid who is so full of rage that he winds up in prison,” says Hawkins on the new track. “There, he has an epiphany about turning your rage into something positive and the need to band together to change things. The song is a bit of a nod to my uncles, as I come from a family with bank robbers in it.”

The adrenalized cut comes with a joyous new video, directed and shot by the band’s drummer David Ray Alexander and featuring Aranivah, who created some of her wildly popular social-media videos specifically for the song. A member of N.Y.C. band Ratas En Zelo, self described as “immigrant Latinas delivering estrogen-fueled accordion0punk,” Aranivah’s unique alternative dance videos have garnered over 7.1 million likes.

It’s been six years since bassist Greg Smith (Weakerthans) and guitarist/vocalist Michael McKenzie joined Hawkins (vocals, guitars), Lawrence Nichols (guitars, vocals, harmonica, keyboards) and Alexander (drums), and Hawkins couldn’t be happier at how this unit has gelled.

“Not since the early days of The Low 1.0 has the band felt so tight as a unit, all cylinders firing in the same direction,” Hawkins stresses. “It is just a great hang. Everyone has the freedom to play what they want to play and arrange together, and in our regular Monday rehearsal sessions we are now writing songs together. We go, ‘Let’s just fuck around and act like teenagers!’ ”

The previous LOTL album, 2019’s Agitpop, was recorded at elite Toronto studio Union Sound with producer David Bottrill (Peter Gabriel, Tool), but the band seized the recording reins this time around. Building upon the momentum of rehearsals at Green Door Studio, the intimate Toronto space run by John Critchley (13 Engines), The Low laid down bed tracks there, as well as at Red House (Michael McKenzie’s space) and Ron’s house. The engineering credits are shared by Critchley, Hawkins, McKenzie and Nichols.

Ron notes that, “this is the first time we’ve really produced a record together, and I’m thrilled at the results. I feel this is the perfect blend of capturing the energy of the band on the floor then adding a sprinkling of beautiful touches, like the horns.” A judiciously employed horn section of top local players dubbed The Legitimizers add vivid colours to many of the album tunes.

LOTL built a faithful following and a very full dance card on the strength of their joyous live shows, where they perfected their mix of clever wordplay, razor-sharp hooks and airtight harmonies. Their 1991 landmark and platinum-selling debut album Shakespeare My Butt, is in the top 10 of the Top 100 Canadian Albums of All Time. It was the best-selling independent release in Canadian history at the time. In 2008, Lowest Of The Low were inducted into the Canadian Indie Rock Hall of Fame.”


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