Since I don’t like making erroneous statements when I write reviews, this is what I found on the Tonequake Records website describing Low Roar: “Low Roar is Ryan Karazija. Ryan Karazija is Low Roar. Ryan moved to Iceland, the winter was dark, and this is what happened!” Before I looked at this, I thought of New England winters of yore as children ran through the streets throwing snowballs, getting off buses for school, frolicking in the glaring light of sun off the ice. Many of you may remember Karazija from Audrye Sessions, an indie darling, which is to say they broke up before they made a real impact (You know aside from the requisite montage sequence on Dr. Drew’s Celebrity Rehab).
Their break-up in August 2010 could be a main reason as to the dour nature of this album. It’s similar to Audrye Sessions, but without the high highs and low lows. It’s less emo and more of a beautiful subtle mix of guitars and vocals that seem mixed in a cave. I wasn’t a fan of his former band and I found all to be sort of passé. There was nothing original about them whatsoever and I found their music to be at times fringing on poppy Dashboard Confessional nonsensical crap.
However, this record demonstrates that Karazija has matured considerably. He has honed his songwriting skills and style into something of a quiet desperation as opposed to an overreaching plea for help. It is very reminiscent of some of the mellower Radiohead songs. I wouldn’t listen if you suffer from depression because this isn’t a happy album to say the least It is, however, tonally sublime and if you want to impress your hipster friends with how little you care, put this album on in the background while you pepper your walls with American Apparel ads.
My biggest concern, as it is for many artists, is where does he go from here? It is evident that the singer/songwriter is immensely talented, but as Elliott Smith once proved, talent does not always equal commercial success. Karazija is definitely a branch on that tree, a tree that has yielded many followers, but little love from the music community as a whole. I anxiously await to see what steps he takes in the future, but focusing on the present this album is a definite must listen.