Saturday, May 9, 2009

Post Rock Anyone?

Both of the bands I’m reviewing have been described as “Post Rock.” Hmm. What the heck is that supposed to mean? After listening to them a lot, I sort of know what the term means. It means, not only is it hard to put a label on the group, but the music is largely without structure. Here’s how Wikipedia defines it: Post-rock is a genre of alternative rock characterized by the use of musical instruments commonly associated with rock music, but using rhythms, harmonies, melodies, timbre, and chord progressions that are not usually found in rock tradition. It is the use of 'rock instrumentation' for non-rock purposes. Practitioners of the genre's style typically produce instrumental music.

Okay, now that we have that out of the way, I’d like to present two groups—Explosions in the Sky and This Will Destroy You. Both bands are guitar focused and produce beautiful layers of sound. Explosions has a harder edge at times and many of their tunes run 10 to 12 minutes. They’ve also done the soundtrack to “Friday Night Lights” which is subtle and very pretty; some of their best work in my opinion. They’ve been compared to both Mogwai and Godspeed You Black Emperor! This Will Destroy You is similar to Explosions. While their music is all instrumental as well, they have a softer edge to them. Most of their songs start out as a mere whisper and build to a majestic, blistering crescendo—a semi-cacophonous sonic plateau. Then the music retreats and lets you down with a gentle, quiet landing. In some ways, I’d rather classify these groups as “noise rock”. While this term has negative connotations to some, I think of it as a genre you can either have on as background music, or listen to it for its complexities. If you enjoy these two groups, a couple others I would recommend are Four Tet and Japancakes.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Just listen to the song Gabriel by Lamb and you know you’re in for something special. This group makes some extraordinary music. The lead singer has an exceptional voice. However, it’s manipulated in ways at times that I’m not totally enamored with. Some times, I enjoy what she does with it, like the song Darkness: near the end it’s distorted to a very cool psychedelic finish. At other tines, she uses her voice to achieve a child-like echoey sound that, quite frankly, becomes rather annoying at times. Overall, the group is heavily into drum & bass with a lot of psychedelic additions to make their sound fairly unique. Why haven’t I heard of this marvelous group earlier?