The King Said – Comet Chaser

Comet Chaser cover art

Artist The King Said
Album Comet Chaser
Genre Post-Rock / Progressive
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Label White Label
Release 26 January 2013
Rating Solid / Very Good

The King Said are yet another promising instrumental band to hail from Northern Ireland, who bring us their debut release in ‘Comet Chaser’. Drawing inspiration from second wave post rock acts such as This Will Destroy You and Mono, you might imagine a similar predictability to this before you even hit ‘play’, but this isn’t entirely the case. There is no hanging around, as the title track immediately grabs attention with a soaring guitar lead – the rest of the band catching up shortly after with pounding rhythm. This is largely constant throughout, building on a riff you will be humming shortly.

The King Said differ from the acts mentioned above in that they get straight to the point. There is still a quiet/loud element to this music, but condensed into a much shorter space of time. There’s the odd shade of post-metal; the double kick and big muff bass lines give us that extra beef. “Concrete Sky” is a slower starter, and more similar to the likes of The American Dollar or even Mogwai with looming ambient introduction and handy drum line.

Contrary to the traditional shoe gaze stance of a lot of post rock acts, The King Said invert and encourage us to look skyward, through their sound and track names. Closer “Architect” is the best example on this release, giving the impression that something bigger is up there – it is unashamedly grandiose, thumping and shuddering to its climax which is absolutely massive. This is happy post rock – think Moonlit Sailor and you will love this. Overall, ‘Comet Chaser’ is a clear and concise first outing, and if this is a taster of things to come for The King Said, the future could well be bright as their sound. – Zicowoods

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Surgeon – Fjords

Fjords cover art

Artist Fjords
Album Surgeon
Genre Post-Metal / Post-Rock
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Label Independent
Release 25 December 2012
Rating Average

I’ve heard the Newfoundland, Canada 4-piece Surgeon described as Post-metal, though they are self-described as instrumental prog-rock, which is more fitting than Post-metal, as they are aren’t metal to my ears. I recently gave their latest release “Fjords” a listen, and I’m left wanting more. Some of that is due to expecting more metal in the “post-metal”. To explain:

There are a lot of moments of cool bits or great sounds on this album. A great example is the opening and titular track of the album; the listener is greeted with a barrage of heavy punches. I love albums that start out by slamming the listener around. It really gets the listener’s attention, makes one sit up and take notice. You’ve my attention, Surgeon. However, we go from that opening assault to a mellower instrumental jam section. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t live up to the promise first thirty seconds of the track delivers. We start picking up momentum, and the bits around the five-minute mark are great furrow-your-brow-and-smirk “fuck yeah” moments that end far too soon. In the end, it’s a 6+ minute song that has a minute worth of awesome and the rest is only OK.

For one more example, “Leaf Blower” has a cool guitar intro. Add some cymbal and a rad guitar harmonic part, and this track feels like it’s really going places. However, around two minutes in and we’ve lost that intensity. We’ve gone into prog territory. This is not a bad thing at all, but it’s not incredible either. “Leaf Blower” doesn’t recapture my attention like the opening 30 seconds did. The tracks on the album seem to have this in common. There are a lot of builds that don’t grow to bursting, and there are a lot of cool parts with too much “only ok” music between. This album isn’t a bad listen, but it’s not gripping. But fans of instrumental or prog music should definitely give this a listen. However, as a post-rock/post-metal release, I’d call it average. – Tim

We Used to Heave Horses – ‘Parts’

Parts cover art

Artist We Used to Have Horses
Album Parts
Genre Post-Rock / Ambient
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Label Let’s Juggle  Records
Release 25 January 2013
Rating Solid

Last year Niall Jones, the  tireless artist who goes under the moniker We Used to Have Horses, put out two albums and an EP within the first four months of 2012. While I did praise the releases for their stellar guitar work and use of string instruments, I cited muddy bass and out-of-place drumming during the more ambient segments as turnoffs. Jones is back this year with ‘Parts‘, a four-track 24 minute record that is an exciting departure from the more ambient side of the project, venturing into the heavier territories of crescendo-core filled with upbeat math-rock influence.

The intro track, “1.1” opens up the record with dual layered clean guitar-work that is shortly joined by a twinkly piano arrangement. As those layers setup a solid baseline, the track really kicks into gear at the first sound of distortion guitar which interjects itself into the fray about four minutes into the album. A solid breakdown at the end of the track really ties the whole track together. “1.2” leaps outward as the next track and is a far departure from what we come to expect out of We Used to Have Horses. A prominent bass-line plays over a math-rock sounding guitar layer as drums hurry the pace with a quick beat. Post-Rock and Math-rock somewhat go hand in hand and we see quite a bit of overlap in the genres, but I think this might be the first time I’ve heard a primarily ambient artist attempt a math-rock jam. I particularly enjoy the bass in the track and the whole track itself is an interesting number that finishes by spiraling out of control.

“1.3” is the real breadwinner on ‘Parts‘ in my opinion. The track opens with fluttering piano work that creates an aural soundscape that is calm and relaxing. A quiet gentle guitar plays a complimentary partner to the piano work as the two synergize beautifully to create an ambient soundscape that feels like the ideal track for heavy eyes to drift away to into slumber land. Building in intensity a second guitar layer steals the spotlight for a brief moment as a crescendo guitar spirals in the depth of the mix while cymbals crash at a reserved volume as to not overpower the mood. This is exactly the sort of excellent ambient jam I’ve come to expect from We Used to Have Horses and “1.3″ certainly doesn’t disappoint. “1.4” closes out the album as a strong post-rock track that is fairly heavy crescendo-core that I noticed shared more than a few similarities in the traits of bands Jones lists as influences. The album closes strong with a giant post-rock finale that sees the track come to a full head of steam before tapering off into the ambience from which the album begin.

Parts‘ is a real interesting album that tells the story of a well-rounded musician not afraid to branch out and try to create new sounds in unfamiliar territories. Each of the four tracks on this album are distinct and full of their own personality. And while they might not synergize together as well as the songs on his other albums, I still think I prefer ‘Parts‘ to We Use to Have Horse‘s three 2012 releases. The production of the album is miles better and I just feel like this album is really a breath of fresh air in the discography of Jones, who has already accomplished so much in the ambient and post-rock genres in such little time. – 2/15/13

The Autumn Leaves Fall In – “The Different Visions of Things”

The Different Visions Of Things cover art

Artist The Autumn Leaves Fall In
Album The Different Vision of Things
Genre Post-Metal / Drone
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Label Independent
Release 17 January 2013
Rating Very Good

The Autumn Leaves Fall In are a deafening post-rock/Post-Metal band from Italy who have the keen ability to create beautiful soundscapes only to blow them up with Thick guitar work that groans in agony and despair. The Florence 3-piece put out their latest album, ‘The Different Visions Of Things’ as a DIY release on bandcamp in January and I have to say that I’m thoroughly impressed by the maturity and craftsmanship presented throughout the album. Formed in 2010 these fine gents have created one hell of a record that fans of highly moody soundscapes should lavish.

From the alluring drone post-rock of “We Were One” to the layered guitar work of “Chinese Shadows Theater” which embeds multiple different styles of guitar that build in a calculating and methodical, edging but never reaching full fruition. Bass is rich and warm, playing the perfect minimalist partner to guitar work that drives each of the 6 tracks. One element of this album I really enjoy is that drummer Alessandro Lucarini never tries to do too much behind the kit. When guitar work isn’t front and center, Lucarini provides a solid beat and when the guitar peaks throughout the tracks there isn’t the non-stop cymbal riding that is rampant in post-rock. A perfect example of this is the track “Deeper Through It” in which he maintains a relatively straight forward beat that pushes the track along, pairing beautifully with the drone guitar static, only intensifying towards the end of the track as the whole song comes to a head.

Honestly this is one of the better releases I’ve heard all year in terms of heavier post-rock. We’ve seen a lot of “pretty” and “twinkly” third wave releases so far in the first month and half of the year, but not too many heavier albums that let your mind drift off to aural soundscapes and loud static-filled passages.  ‘The Different Visions of Things’ does a great job filling that void. This Will Destroy You and God Is An Astronaut fans should be feel right at home with The Autumn Leaves Fall In. This is an album that definitely has earned it’s spot on my ipod and should see ample amounts of play throughout the year. 2-15-13

Locomotora – This Very Holding Back

This very holding back cover art

Artist Locomotora
Album ‘This Very Holding Back’
Genre Post-rock / Instrumental
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Label Independent
Release Jan 25 2013
Rating Very Good

Though their debut album, ‘Canopy’, was released (somewhat unassumingly) during the tail end of 2011, it wasn’t until mid-way through last year that French post-rock newcomer Silent Whale Becomes A Dream became the most talked-about band in post-rock communities and forums across the web. They were the new Mono. To some, they were a better Mono. ‘Canopy’ was more Mono than Mono‘s own ‘For My Parents’ turned out to be. Mono.

But then people went quiet about ‘Canopy’ for a while; presumably because they were all busy listening to it. But this isn’t a review for some new Silent Whale Becomes A Dream release (who knows how long we will have to wait for that). This time, the honourary Mono album of 2013 award goes to… Locomotora, with their album ‘This Very Holding Back’.

It isn’t as straight-forward as that, however. Mono are a band of gaps. In the mid-00’s they shifted from their heavily guitar-centric “wall-of-noise” sound to a more serene and beautiful sonic fingerprint, whereby dramatic strings were growingly prominent and guitars were used to channel elegance and emotion rather than power and aggression. It just so happens that bands such as Silent Whale Becomes A Dream and Locomotora are here to fill those gaps, by playing music that embraces drama and beauty whilst still maintaining a dark and at times sorrowful quality that’s contrary to Mono‘s recent displays of romance and optimism. Locomotora are different to Silent Whale Becomes A Dream in that their focus is less on showcasing the power of textural guitar-playing, and more on composing a rich tapestry of sound, with mournful strings and songs that are both immediate and exploratory.

On the surface the tag “Mono clone” might seem appropriate when describing this band, however tonal differences are often what make an album stand on its own, a notion to which ‘This Very Holding Back’ is a striking testament.

New Music Friday!

Here’s a fresh batch of albums released in 2013 for your listening pleasure. We won’t be reviewing these but we want to hear what you think. Check them out and leave a comment letting us know what you think of these albums.

#TenderTropic cover art

Artist El Tercer Semestre
Album ‘#TenderTropic’
Genre Math-Rock
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Label Independent
Release Jan 15 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

Split cover art

Artist La tumba de Nicolas Cage/Témpano
Album ‘Split’
Genre Heavy Post-Rock
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Label Auge Records
Release Feb 1 2013

 

 

 

 

 

En vivo | Patio Espiral cover art

Artist Dos Astronautas
Album ‘En vivo | Patio Espiral ‘
Genre Ambient / Post-rock
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Label Independent
Release Jan 5 2013

 

 

 

 

 

Beginnings cover art

Artist Qualia
Album ‘Beginnings’
Genre Ambient / Post-rock
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Label Independent
Release Jan 18 2013

 

 

 

 

 

T A P S cover art

Artist Thousand Mile Channel
Album ‘T A P S’
Genre Electronic / Post-rock
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Label Housewarming Records
Release Jan 19 2013

They Rise, We Die release demo via bandcamp

demo cover artThey Rise, We Die are a 4-piece Seattle area post-rock/post-metal band who just released a rough demo via their bandcamp page that is available for “name your price”. The currently unsigned band will be performing on the same bill as X-Suns and Post-Madonna this Sunday at The Comet Bar in Seattle. Postrockstar will be on hand to check out what should be a great night of post-rock so you can expect photos and possibly video from that show in the near future!