Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of ambient/post-rock music, and it seems that every time I mention a band on twitter, someone says “thanks for telling me about them!” So I figured I might as well put together a list of what’s been playing on my list lately.
First, though, a quick disclaimer: I’m going to use the term “post-rock” with a very, very broad stroke. Some of these bands (Russian Circles, for instance) don’t quite fit into the category, but for simplicity’s sake, I’m gonna lump them in. Nothing personal, just an ease of categorization thing. Honestly, so many bands these days transcend so many different genres that it feels the whole classification thing is becoming a moot point, but that’s neither here nor there.
Without further ado:
Why am I starting with Red Sparowes? Because it’s what’s playing as I write this. They have 3 full length albums, spanning from 2005 to 2010. I can actually say I haven’t listened to The Fear is Excruciating, but Therein Lies the Answer yet, but it’s right on my list. Long, ambient albums is Sparowes’ forte. They tell a story, both with their song titles and with their music. Both At the Soundless Dawn and Every Red Heart Shines Toward the Red Sun are incredible albums.
Stuff to listen for: The fantastic bass work. In At the Soundless Dawn, the bassist is Jeff Caxide (now of Isis), and he does a fantastic job. But the switch to Andy Arahood in Every Red Heart doesn’t slow them down. The bass harmonies and riffs running throughout their albums are incredible.
In writing this post, it looks like I’m missing some albums from great bands. Caspian is one of those. I’ve given their The Four Trees album a couple of listens, and I like it more and more. This is about as quintessential post-rock as a band can get. I will admit, I can’t give as full of a review for these guys, as I’ve only listened to the album a few times, but if you like anything else on this list, you’ll almost certainly like Caspian.
Stuff to listen for: I love the guitar work on Sea Lawn on The Four Trees. Sounds like probably a slide guitar into a delay, and it’s such a cool sound.
I can admit to being a bit of a fanboy on this one, but cut me some slack. The drummer is a friend of mine, and they’re a local band. I still haven’t
gotten a chance to see them live, which bugs me, but their album, Circles, is awesome. The second half of the album is especially good. I’m a sucker for up-beat post-rock (which I feel is kind of an oxymoron), and songs like Alamo, Our Grave and Into the Abyss are fantastic. The opening riff to Into the Abyss is a ton of fun to play on bass as well, which is a double bonus.
Stuff to listen for: Like I said, the bass riff on Into the Abyss, but also the drumming towards the end of Alive and Well.
Now, this is starting to run a little long, so I’m gonna break up this post into two posts, and wrap up with one more recommendation:
This band is one of those bands that might challenge the post-rock moniker, and move more into a post-metal/post-hard rock type genre. With three full albums under their belt (Enter, Geneva, and Station) and some huge tours, these guys have made it pretty dang big. I like Wiki’s description of them: “instrumental, sprawling music which runs the gamut of heavy discordant metal, to soft,
delicate passages.” These guys play some incredible music, and it fits just about any situation. All of their albums are fantastic, and definitely worth a listen. Plus, they apparently have a new album coming out later this year, which is also quite exciting.
Stuff to listen for: Brian Cook’s bass work on Geneva and Station is fantastic, and considering he was the bassist for These Arms Are Snakes and Botch, it’s no surprise.
That should provide you with plenty of listening for a few days. One caveat: If at all possible, listen to these bands on good, surround sound headphones or a decent speaker system. You’ll get so, so much more out of the music. Decent bass response is a necessity here.
But that’s just, like, my opinion, man.