This is a Blog about Post-Rock.

I wanted to take a moment away from the reviews to just talk a little about our site and the post-rock scene in general from my perspective as someone who runs what I think is a relatively successful music blog. I don’t think I’ve ever written a true “blog” post in my life, so this should be interesting and hopefully it will be well received enough that I can do it again sometime down the line. Rest assured that we’ll get back to regular postrockstar content with our next posting.

Usually I save these for last but before I get started I really want to thank a couple of people who have gone above and beyond what has been asked of them in helping supply the site with high quality posts. I’m thankful for all our writers who have contributed to the site but I especially want to recognize ShaneXedge and Shooter for their regular weekly contributions. Alone I could not produce the three or so weekly updates we’ve been publishing for nearly 9 months now and they have come through more times in the last couple months than I can even count. When I started Postrockstar I had all the free time in the world but that quickly changed as I transitioned from one career path to another. If you didn’t notice, Shane also created the term “Post-*” a couple of weeks, which is shorthand for post-everything. We’re really going to be championing this term hard in the upcoming months as I think it’s absolutely perfect to describe a lot of the music that comes through this site.

I got to see Maserati perform along with Joy Wants Eternity earlier this month and it was one of the better shows I’ve seen. Maserati brings so much energy to their music that their albums really don’t do them enough justice. Unfortunately I came down with a bad case of food poisoning the morning of the Caspian / Native / You May Die in the Desert concert I was slated to do photography at. To my knowledge this is the first time Caspian has played in Seattle in at least three years and I’m really hoping I won’t have to wait another three years to finally see them. A big thanks to Brian of You May Die in the Desert  for securing a photo pass for me that I was never able to use.

It’s been a really good first three months for post-* (there it is again!). We’ve had a handful of really creative and amazing albums come through the site lately and it’s only going to be getting better in the upcoming months. My favorite album of the year so far is  “Reanimation” by Lights and Motion . I really do believe that this is a timeless classic that is at the absolute peak of crescendo-core.

While we’re talking about Deep Elm artists, I’d like to bring up something about the label that I think has become sort of the elephant in the room. It’s no secret that their band lineup is chalked full of excellent bands. These bands music and track records of success really speaks for and sells itself, yet time and time again the label goes to extravagant lengths to endlessly promote their latest releases to the moon  that it becomes overkill. At a certain point I think you have to just let the records speak for themselves without all the glitz and glamour of an All-Star PR team’s frenzied marketing strategies.Hopefully I’m not missing the mark too much here, but my opinion is reinforced by the fact that I’ve talked to more than a few people who have used the specific term “hype machine” when speaking about Deep Elm and their artists. I love Deep Elm to death and I think that they are by far and away the best post-rock label in the genre right now, but I just wish they would realize that the people they are marketing to are smarter than the average music listener.

Shifting gears, our site rarely gives unfavorable reviews, yet when we do there seems to always be backlash regarding them. Earlier this month Shane gave the new Long Distance Calling album “The Flood Inside” a rating of average. .While we’ve only gotten a couple negative comments back so far, I just wanted to take a quick moment to say I whole heartedly support Shane’s review of that album. I was extremely disappointed to see Long Distance Calling step away from their post-rock/metal roots and gravitate towards hard-rock. Maybe I was just expecting too much from the album or perhaps I should have known something was up when they added a vocalist to their lineup. But the album really does sound nothing like their previous work and is a far cry from their 2009 masterpiece “Avoid the Light”, which easily is a member of my top 5 post-rock albums of all time.

I think the biggest travesty on this album though is that they brought in one of my favorite vocalists of all time, Vincent Cavanagh of Anathema, yet his role in the track “Welcome Change” is incredibly underpowered and largely forgettable. This is a band that is just three years removed from releasing “The Nearing Grave” which saw the band collaborate with Katatonia frontman Jonas Renske to create the epic track “The Nearing Grave” in which Renske’s full talents and range were on display and meshed perfectly with the band’s talents. I’m not sure what went wrong this time around but I’m just not a very big fan of the direction they are headed.

In the “and now for something completely different” category, I discovered Tara Yost’s (Keyboardist of The End of the Ocean) blog last month and promptly read everything. If you’re not a fan of reading about  the everyday life of talented musicians, you should at least check it out for her unique artwork. While we’re on The End of the Ocean, they are in the process of wrapping up a whirlwind month that included an eastcoast tour and a all-star super concert with the likes of Gifts From Enola, Sunlight Ascending and If These Trees Could Talk. If I didn’t love Seattle’s gray sky and overcast weather so much I’d move to the middle of the country in a heartbeat. Insert First world problems “I don’t live anywhere near where my favorite bands play” meme here.

In closing, I was really happy to see the community rally around El Ten Eleven after their gear was stolen by making their upcoming release ‘Transitions Remixed’ the number one seller on bandcamp. Those guys are two of the hardest working musicians I’ve ever had the opportunity to see perform and I’m really glad to see karma was on their side even through what I’m sure has been a stressful week for the guys. I’m really hoping my schedule allows me to see them when they’re back in town in a few weeks. I highly suggest you catch a show if they’re within an earshot of you. What they are capable of will blow your mind and leave you wondering just how the hell they were able to accomplish such a complex sound as just a two piece band.

Thank you so much for supporting our blog as we continue to grow. We’re always looking for comments, feedback, suggestions, etc so feel free to leave a comment here or email us at postrockstars@gmail.com !

El Ten Eleven has gear stolen, prompts early pre-orders of ‘Transitions’ Remixed.

Earlier this week our friends El Ten Eleven suffered a major setback just days prior to heading out for tour when the majority of their gear was stolen from their car while at the studio.  In response to help offset costs, the band has put their latest effort, a remix album of 2012’s much heralded ‘Transitions’ album,  up for presale on their bandcamp.  There is a whole slew of options available including some swanky VIP packages that can net you time with the band when they come to your neck of the woods. To read more about the situation check out El Ten Eleven’s facebook page or read more below:

Friends,

Today our road manager parked my car that was full of our gear outside of our rehearsal studio, went inside to get the room ready and came back out a half hour later to find almost all of the gear stolen. It happened in broad daylight at 3pm on a very busy street.

Kristian’s double neck, fretless Wal bass, both pedal boards, and basically Tim’s entire drum kit (rototoms, cymbals, snare, kick pedal, all of his electronic drum equipment, and bass head) were stolen.

We are really, really screwed. Our tour is supposed to start in three days.

As you probably know, we are the hardest working band in show business and will do anything we can to still do the tour. We are utilizing every resource we can think of to get gear.

We are going to release our remix album next week but we are going to put one of the songs up for sale right now to raise some funds. If you have extra money and can donate to our cause, we would be unbelievably grateful.

This is sort of an emergency Kickstarter type of thing, but we aren’t going to use Kickstarter because it takes too long, the campaign has to be approved, we have to meet a goal, etc. Instead, we’re just gonna put the song up on Bandcamp and let you pay what you want for it. If you have extra money and can donate to our cause, we would be unbelievably grateful.

We hate begging for money. That’s why we’re offering a download. We want you to get at least something. But the truth is we need your help. If you enjoy our music and/or our shows and can afford to, please help us get back on the road! We are desperate.

If you can’t afford to spend any money but want to help, please spread the word. Especially if you are in Southern California. This gear is unique. There are very few Carvin double necks, Wal basses or roto toms out there. We’ll be watching the pawn shops, ebay and Craigslist like hawks. Maybe you can, too.

Also, the two A-holes who took the stuff apparently are Latino, in their 20’s and of average build. That’s about all we got from one witness.

Again, please know how much we hate asking for money, but if every person who liked us on Facebook just gave one buck, we could really start rebuilding our set up.

Thank you so much for your time. You can’t imagine how grateful Tim and I are at the support you’ve given us over the years. We still can’t believe you like us!

Thank you, thank you.

Kristian

Roundtable Review – And So I Watch You From Afar – All Hail Bright Futures

https://i1.wp.com/f.bandcamp.com/z/41/33/4133239432-1.jpg

Artist And So I Watch You From Afar
Album ‘All Hail Bright Futures’
Genre Post-Rock / Math-Rock
Buy/DL bandcamp
Web Facebook | Sargent House
Label Sargent House
Release Mar 19 2013
Rating Excellent

After a short hiatus, we’re back with yet another roundtable review. This time around  Shane, Shooter and myself (Iamhop) are taking a look at the much anticipated ‘All Hail Bright Futures’ by And So I Watch You From Afar, the band’s third full length.

Shane: Everyone’s favorite creepily named Irishmen are back with a new album, and oh, it’s a great one. They continue to defy easy genre classification, by just providing awesome, infectious, instrumental jams. They don’t have the crescendos, the build-ups, or any of the “cinematic” stuff, they don’t really have the math rock angle going on, they just play what they love, and it comes out awesome. I mean, they use a steel drum for crying out loud. Who else has the balls to do that?

They do slow things down a bit here and there, like on “The Stay Golden Pt. 3 (Trails…)”, and the following track, “Mend And Make Safe”. While the former is a short little mellow track, the latter is a little less bouncy version of classic ASIWYFA, which reminds me a bit of The Dismemberment Plan (in a very, very good way).

In an album so full of highlights (the chant on “Ambulance” is pretty damn awesome, for example), it’s hard to really find anything “wrong” with this album. If I had one bone to pick, I’m not that into the first 3 minutes or so of “Ka Ba Ta Bo Da Ka“, but the track finishes strong. The final track, “Young Brave Minds”, is probably the stand out track to me, which is a difficult thing to say given how great everything else on the album is.

Every time ASIWYFA puts out a new album, I wonder how they’re going to top it. Well, they’ve topped ‘Gangs‘ here, in my opinion, and of course, now I’m wondering how they’re going to top this. Excellent.

—–

IamHop:  And So I Watch You From Afar is one of those bands you really need to see live to truly appreciate the energy that flows through the band’s barrage of musical insanity . While technically sound, the band really does thrive off the unrelenting energy they bring forth into creating a chaotic and rambunctiously fun sound. When I saw them open for Russian Circles last summer, I expected a solid show. What I didn’t expect was for them to completely tear the house down and take all the air out of the room in the process. At the end of the night, people were talking about ASIWYFA, not Russian Circles. I have to hand it to them for their ability to create highly catchy mathy post-rock that never settles  falls into grooves and is constantly out to surprise the listener. You truly never know what to expect when you listen to one of their albums.

Which leads us to their latest effort ‘All Hail Bright Futures’, released earlier this month. The album picks up right where their 2011 album “Gangs” left off. Everything you’ve come to expect from the band is present and there are no real surprises to be found throughout the album’s 12 tracks. “Big Thinks Do  Remarkable” is a fantastic jam that kicks things off and never quits as it pushes forward. It’s just too hard not to chant along the track. “The Stay Golden” blends crazy electronic elements with more chanting and guitar work that simply flows on all levels. “Young Brave Minds” is the only song over 5 minutes to be found on the album and is there to reassure us that all the members of ASIWYFA haven’t developed ADHD and suddenly lack the attention span to create a great song longer than 3 minutes. While it is the best song on the album, the shorter tracks are really what sells the whole thing to me. Obviously this is an album that flows brilliantly without a dull moment to ever be found.

In comparison to their previous two releases, ‘All Hail Bright Futures’ is a much more solid album from  front to back. While their other two albums are home to some truly epic tracks that are must listen to post-rock essentials, their biggest fault is that both tended to taper off in energy and had trouble maintaining my interest after the initial rush of musical intensity the first few tracks brought to the table began to die down. That problem is nowhere to be found on this album and is a highly enjoyable experience from front to back. Mark this one down as “Excellent” in my book.

—-

Shooter: And So I Watch You from Afar channel Battles in their latest bid to become recognized as the most fun not-quite-post-rock band in the post-rock circuit today. ‘All Hail Bright Futures’ focuses this band’s pop sensibilities into one hard-and-fast ride, such that it’s incredibly difficult to not be excited by the infectious hooks that seep from the get-go. The riffs are quick and packed with energy as you’d expect, yet there’s also a sense of patience that was at times missing in previous albums. No longer do songs hurriedly shift from riff to riff — each melody is allowed to repeat for long enough for the hooks to really attach. The now-prominent use of vocals aids in making each motif more memorable, yet it also lends a somewhat cute and fun edge to the music. And So I Watch You from Afar have always stated their case that post-rock can be a blast, but it’s never been more convincing than it is here. ‘All Hail Bright Futures’ is like a dream pop album on a sugar-high. Aggressive metal elements that were once a distraction are now left by the wayside in the aid of a cohesive pop sound. I feel like this band has finally found its identity. Excellent

This update courtesy of Trish & Tara

Our friends The End of the Ocean are out driving around the east coast as they continue to embark on their March tour.  Keyboardist Tara and guitarist Trish have been documenting some of the more..well..let’s call them interesting moments of their travels and creating tour diary videos. Check em out below and if you’re on the east coast be sure to catch one of their shows, they put on an amazing live performance.

New Music Friday

Here at postrockstar we get a lot of requests each week asking for us to either review or promote bands. Ultimately our goal is to review as many as possible, but unfortunately we tend to end up resigned to the cruel fate of too much music and not enough time. As a collective, we are simply of group of every day people living every day lives who each possess a love and passion to share the music that helps get us through our days.  While we do cover a fair amount of  albums throughout the year, there are others that sit around in queue that deserve to be heard by the fine people that actually read our blog!  So instead of us reviewing these albums, we’re going to let you fill in the blanks! Check out the bands below and leave us a comment, letting us know what you think!

Let Our Minds Be Languageless, Let Our Bodies Be Verbose cover art

Artist Mandala Eyes
Album Let Our Minds Be Languageless, Let Our Bodies Be Verbose
Genre Ambient / Post-Rock
Buy/DL bandcamp
Web Facebook
Label Independent
Release 19 February 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artist A Light in the Dark
Album Sweet Dreams
Genre Post-Rock / Experimental
Buy/DL Mediafire
Web Facebook
Label Independent
Release 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artist The Stars Above
Album Shoreline
Genre Electronic / Post-Rock
Buy/DL Bandcamp
Web Facebook
Label Independent
Release 11 February 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artist Things Do get Better
Album Meanings
Genre Post-Rock / Drone
Buy/DL Bandcamp
Web
Label Independent
Release 17 February 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artist Our Smallest Adventures EP
Album Our Smallest Adventures
Genre Post-Rock / Ambient
Buy/DL Bandcamp
Web  Facebook
Label Independent
Release 17 February 2013

Huldra – Monuments, Monoliths

Monuments, Monoliths cover art

Artist Huldra
Album Monuments, Monoliths
Genre Post-Metal
Buy/DL Bandcamp
Web Facebook
Label Independent
Release 12 January 2013
Rating Very Good

While I’m not really the biggest fan of the deep, growling vocals, Huldra have enough going on to make it work well, and for me to really enjoy it. That said, being greeted by those vocals alone can be a bit of a shock, but it certainly pays off. The debut full-length (the band previously released the ‘Signals From the Void‘ EP, and a split with fellow Utah band Dustbloom) by this Salt Lake City quintet is heavy on the sludge, and heavy on the Isis influence. There’s no rip-off here, by any means, though – Huldra brings enough of their own immense songwriting talent to make things truly unique. In addition to all of the post-rock/sludge/whatever influences, there’s a bit of psychedelia that creeps in here and there, mostly through some of the bass lines, which creates a wonderfully eerie mood.

The phrase “roller coaster ride” is used a lot to describe post-* albums, and in this case, it’s especially fitting. The opening track, “Monuments“, is a relentless assault (albeit with some underlying melodic guitar riffs) that runs it’s course before diving straight into the much more subdued and melodic “Twisted Tongues and Gnarled Roots“. This is where some of the first instances of the previously mentioned bass lines can first be noticed, and they have sort of a Tool feel to them. The song ascends to a truly beautiful ending, with frantic guitars and driving drums leading the way for the last 2 minutes.

Noctua” acts as a somewhat calm, breather moment, before Huldra launches into the epic 12 minute “Ursidae“. The track builds and builds over the course of the first 8 minutes or so before really kicking into its full strength, and it’s magnificent when it does. It’s one of the top moments on the album to me, and really shows how talented these guys are. The follow up, “Thousands of Eyes“, wastes no time getting right into the heaviness. Sludgy riffs, pounding drums, and fierce vocals greet you almost immediately. The aural assault wanes after about a minute and a half, leading to some clean vocals and melodic guitar work, before picking right back up. Admittedly, I’m not much of a fan of the clean vocals here, they fit the mood and tone, but… I just don’t think they’re very good. The rest of the track is really remarkable, though, so it’s just a minor setback.

Another transitional, ambient track, “Damnatio ad Bestias“, follows, further showcasing Huldra‘s understanding of setting a mood, and their great ability to do so. These interludes, as it were, give the album sort of a living feel to it, as though you can feel it truly rising and falling. “As Above, So Below” is one of the most instrument heavy songs on the album, with the vocals not kicking in until near the end. The brief burst of energy and vocals gives way again to a slower, melodic pace that rounds out the song.

My absolute favorite track on the album is up next, “Is This The End? This Is The End”. Even the initial riff lets you know that you’re in for a hell of a ride, and once everything else kicks in shortly thereafter, things get really good. To me, this is a near perfect sludge/post-metal song. The builds and breaks, the melody and mayhem, it all works together so well here. There’s one reeeeally weird element to the intro, but I don’t want to give it away. I want to see if anyone notices and agrees with me.

I may be in the minority here, but “Monoliths” is an incredibly beautiful track. Not only musically, but the inclusion of what sounds like a theremin perhaps, which creates noises that sound remarkably like whale songs is absolutely gorgeous. Overall, the track just has a haunting, beautiful feel to it, and despite being the most “experimental” track, it really is one that I can listen to over and over.

One final “breather” (“Auctoritas Non Veritas Facit Legem“) leads into the nearly 13 minute “The City in the Sky“, which provides Huldra with another opportunity to really explore their talents. The shorter songs on the album are good, of course, but I feel like the longer ones are where they truly shine. The interesting part of that is that the “shorter” songs still typically approach the 10 minute mark. There’s something about throwing in another two or three minutes that really makes the “long” songs stand out to me, but it may very well be that I just enjoy long, flowing songs.

All in all, it’s a really great album, with only a few minor flaws to me. Huldra are a fairly young band, in terms of how long they’ve been releasing music, so I’m very excited to see where they go from here.

Light Bearer – Silver Tongue

Silver Tongue cover art

Artist Light Bearer
Album ‘Silver Tongue’
Genre Post-Metal
Buy/DL bandcamp
Web Facebook
Label Halo of Flies/Alerta Antifascista/Moment of Collapse
Release Feb 8 2013
Rating Must Listen

For those who haven’t heard, or heard of, Light Bearer before, the London based sextet may prove difficult to pin a genre name on. Post-rock? Yep. Progressive metal? Yep. Drone? Yep. Post-hardcore? Yep. I think you get the point. The entirety of the band’s output is based around a story written by their vocalist, Alex CF (previously of Fall of Efrafa, currently also handling vocal duties for Momentum and Eleleth), which was influenced by Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, Milton’s Paradise Lost, and the Book of Genesis, amongst others. Hardly a stranger to singing/writing for a band with a literary focus (Fall of Efrafa’s discography was based around ideologies from Watership Down), Alex turns his focus here to the casting out of Lucifer from heaven, the story of Adam and Eve (Eve, of course, being representative of free will), the establishment of the church, and finally the war against God. Where ‘Lapsus‘ told the tale of Lucifer’s casting out from heaven after refusing to bow to humanity, ‘Silver Tongue‘ picks up with Lucifer rising from the void, atop the tower of Dis, to spread the message of truth and free will. Acting as the light bearer, he passes the metaphorical truth to Eve, herself an ancestor of humanity. The lyrics and storytelling here are absolutely top notch, and to me are a major part of what sets Light Bearer apart from other bands treading similar waters musically.

It’s rather difficult to fully describe an album with this much depth and intelligence, especially without relying on all of the cliches that could be so easily applied – epic, beautiful, haunting, crushing, etc. This album is all of that, and then some. The album opener, “Beautiful Is This Burden“, rolls along peacefully for the first 5 minutes or so as a string and horn laden intro, before the guitar, drums, and vocals kick in, bringing an extra depth and beauty. There are so many layers and sounds here, that now, upon my 6th or 7th listen, I’m still discovering little things in the background. Lee, the member responsible for the soundscapes, has really done a phenomenal job on this album, and it becomes immediately apparent here (especially if you listen through a quality pair of headphones).

The journey continues with “Amalgam“, a much darker and heavier track than it’s predecessor. Here is where some of Light Bearer‘s sludgier elements really shine, the hammering guitar riffs crashing headfirst into some of the more melodic picking. The darkness carries through to “Matriarch“, with it’s mournful cello arrangement, and the whispered echoes of the clean vocals. It’s a darkly beautiful moment, and fits the theme of the record (especially this song) very well. The song ascends as it tells the story of the first Eve, as she begins to fathom free will, and gain an understanding of the world around her. “Clarus” follows up with an almost hymnal, choir-like quality, and acts as something of an interlude. The shortest song on the album, it consists entirely of swirling background sounds and haunting clean vocals (see, there’s one of those cliches).

The mythology of Eve accepting the forbidden fruit is told in “Aggressor and Usurper“, and the confrontational tone of the song meshes nicely with the story, and the building hostility between God and Lucifer. This track, lyrically, also see Light Bearer working in an aggressive anti-sexist stance, one which truthfully is carried through the hole album, it just becomes much more evident here. A three minute piano interlude in the song leads to one of the most explosive moments on the album, as the hostility comes to a head and the Authority begins to show his anger.

Oddly, the intro to the final track, “Silver Tongue“, sounds nearly like a radio friendly song of sorts, with its gentle, melodic strumming, and background tambourine. This carries through for about 2 minutes, before the full strength of the song comes rushing forward. Quite possibly my favorite track on the album, this nearly 20 minute opus wraps up the album very nicely. It’s sometimes difficult to fathom the idea of something heavy being ambient and beautiful as well, but this song is just that.

‘Silver Tongue’, as an album, is not something that is easily digested (nor are any other Light Bearer recordings, really). To me, that makes the mark of a truly great album. It’s not something that’s just going to be blurred background music – it demands your attention, and rewards you greatly for focusing on it. I know it seems especially odd to be focusing so much on the lyrical content of an album on a post-* blog, but as I said, the story is really a very vital part of what makes Light Bearer such a powerful band. That’s not to say that the music is a secondary force by any means, but especially in the flood of fantastic post-metal releases we’ve seen over the past few months, the ability to tell a cohesive, flowing story with great effect absolutely sets Light Bearer apart from their peers. Conveniently, all lyrics (and explanations) are available on the band’s website.

For any fans of atmospheric post-metal, this is an absolute must listen. It’s pay what you wish on their bandcamp page (with physical releases on vinyl, CD, cassette, and a “special edition” to follow), so what have you got to lose? – Shanexedge

Welcome to the World, Blake

Andy Othling of Lowercase Noises was recently blessed with his third child. As with Marshall in 2010 and, later, Vivian in 2011, Andy has composed a piece of music to coincide with the birth of his newborn child, Blake.

Blake cover art

I was going to review this. I reviewed Lowercase Noises‘Passage’ EP in November of last year. ‘Blake’ is different, though, and I don’t think that this an album that I have any right to critique — nor one that I particularly wish to. While listening to ‘Blake’ for the first time, I had in my head bullet-point impressions that I would intend to include in a proper review of the album. It wasn’t until the song “Taken” — in which a home recording can be heard of Andy’s wife discussing with (I believe) Marshall their excitement for the arrival of their newest gift — that it dawned on me: ‘Blake’ wasn’t written to be broken down, judged and objectified. It wasn’t written for us. It’s something much more personal than that.

But any new Lowercase Noises release is still worth talking about.

Like ‘Marshall’ and ‘Vivian’ before it, ‘Blake’ is an album with more ambient inclinations than might be found in some of Lowercase Noises‘ other works (including last year’s ‘Passage’). This is music written for a baby, and so soft and calming sounds are perfectly suited. Here, Andy isn’t necessarily aspiring to push his artistic explorations into new territories like he did with ‘Passage’ (which is why I don’t think this should be critiqued in a traditional sense); he simply wishes to make music from the heart that can truly mean something to his children as they grow. We’re just lucky enough to be welcomed into his personal life such that we can witness the birth of a family heirloom.

Listening to ‘Blake’ got me thinking about the sentimentality of music. How music can be something so personal to one individual; be such a catalyst for memories and nostalgia. The sounds we hear as we enter the world and grow up in it are instilled within us; as influences to mould our future selves, and as checkpoints to take us back to times once cherished but perhaps oft-forgotten. In a recent video posted to YouTube, Andy told us that what inspires him as an artist is the desire to release his creative energy, and hopefully to bestow it upon others. It’s his way of expressing himself. And that’s what makes the art of music so special for this particular musician. The albums that Andy writes for his children are not just a chapter in his musical career, but a way for him to express his love and excitement for his children. To instil their earliest memories with imprints of their father’s passion.

And that’s why Andy’s music is wholly something special.

To download ‘Blake’ on a name-your-price basis, click here.

Dorena – Nuet

Nuet cover art

Artist Dorena
Album Nuet
Genre Post-Rock
Buy/DL Deep Elm Digital
Web Facebook
Label Deep Elm
Release 12 March 2013
Rating Excellent

There is something to be said about the healing powers of the sweet sounds created by Dorena. A member of the Deep Elm Records family, the Swedish 5-piece sometimes electronic sometimes pop and almost always playful band has forged a career out of creating uplifting joyful tracks that speak to the soul. They are one of my “go to” bands when I’m having a bad day or when I just need a pick me up. The band’s ability to deliver obnoxiously catchy beats and melodies is what sets them apart from the rest of the third wave “pretty” post-rock crowd. With so many bands experimenting and tweaking their sound in the post-rock world, upon receiving my copy of ‘Nuet‘ I was thrilled to discover Dorena has chosen to nurture and improve upon their winning post-rock formula.

Nuet‘ is a rock-solid 49 minutes long spanning across seven unique tracks. Even while staying true to their sound,  the band has managed to incorporate some new elements into the mix while accentuating some lesser used elements. These minor changes all come across as charming and welcome editions, so much so that at times you don’t even notice them. So you say you are not familiar with the uprising of the chiptune genre? Let Dorena introduce you to the stylings of electronic 8-bit video game music (think old school 80’s Nintendo) with the intro to “Her Comforting Touch”. With a base layer that sounds like a sample straight out of Donkey Kong, the band has managed to add a unique touch to an otherwise classic track without causing any real ripples in the water. Actually the addition of chiptune isn’t even the most drastic change to be found on the album. There is a much more increased focus and emphasis on singing found scattered throughout the album. The fourth track “Dandelion” is the best example of this and offers a softer moment featuring melodramatic emotional singing for about half a minute or so. Later in the album, “A Late Farewell” also feature singing that meshes beautifully with the relaxed vibe of the song. As someone who is generally a harsh critic of vocals in post-rock, the vocals found on ‘Nuet‘ are refreshingly lovely and feel very natural to the progression of the band.

The album picks up right where their 2010 effort ‘About Everything and More‘ left off with the lead track “Semper“, A soft harmonious number with a casual yet prominent driven beat. ‘Semper‘ is the softer of the album’s two ambient tracks, joined by “A Late Farewell” which clocks in at nearly ten minutes as the album’s sixth track. “A Late Farewell” has everything you could ask for in an ambient post-rock track. A seven minute build up leads up to the track’s full realization as guitars moan in distorted agony as cymbals persistently crash. While these tracks are a nice change of pace, they are far from Dorena at their best.

“Young Hearts of Summer” is where ‘Nuet‘ truly starts to shine. Playful electronics push forward an obnoxiously catchy number as drummer Jonatan Tikas keeps a medium tempo beat. The guitar and keyboards in this track truly do feel inseparable as they complement one another perfectly through the ups and downs of the song. Elegant at times and high energy at others, the song is ripe with the joyful emotion that Dorena puts forth in their music. As great of a track as it is though, it simply outclassed by “My Childhood Friend”, which is the best track on the album and a worthy rival to my favorite Dorena track “From The Window of my Room”. With a minimal ambient intro that eventually comes to a crawl, the track suddenly jumps from first to fifth gear with a brightly distorted guitar leading into a Irish pub inspired jam. Just when you think that the vibe is coming to an end as the track starts to slow it shifts gears yet again with a series of Whoa-Oh-Oh’s that I dare anyone to try to not sing along to. “My Childhood Friend” is a wildly and outrageously creative track that could only be pulled off by a band as clever as Dorena.

With ‘Nuet‘ being their third album, Dorena is at the stage of their career where complacency could have had the guys making wildly drastic changes to their sound. However the band stayed true to the style that has earned them so many adoring fans and a much deserved spot on the Deep Elm roster. To me, ‘Nuet‘ is a picture perfect example how a band can evolve and mature without making any sudden and unexpected changes. Unsurprisingly, Deep Elm Records has produced yet another winner that I simply can’t say enough good things about. If you are asking me to a choose a favorite between this album and ‘About Everything and More’, I’ll be more than happy to disappoint you by sidestepping the question because I simply can’t do it. Get ‘Nuet‘ ASAP and make the decision for yourself.

Long Distance Calling – The Flood Inside

Artist Long Distance Calling
Album The Flood Inside
Genre Post-Rock
Buy/DL Longdistancecalling.de
Web Facebook
Label Superball
Release 4 March 2013
Rating Average

The German five piece Long Distance Calling return with their follow up to 2011’s ‘Long Distance Calling‘, and a few things have changed – Out is founding member Reimut von Bonn, and in is a new keyboardist/vocalist, Marsen Fischer. The band has worked a bit with guest vocalists before (John Bush of Armored Saint & Anthrax, and Jonas Renske of Katatonia for example), but Fischer is a permanent addition, though his vocals are not found on every track. Another move from a band that is always evolving, it seems.

The lead off track on the album, “Nucleus“, shows perfectly how Long Distance Calling refuses to fit into a tidy little post-rock label. Everything is moving along at the sort of pace most post-rock listeners are used to – build-ups, melody, atmosphere – when out of nowhere at about the 4 minute mark, a solid 2+ minutes of blues guitar riffing, courtesy of Henrik Freischlader. It works very well with the rest of the song, even if it may come as a bit of a surprise.

Fischer’s vocals are first featured on the next track, “Inside the Flood“, and in choosing him, Long Distance Calling has gone for sort of a hard rock feel. The vocal style is reminiscent of Mike Patton, without nearly as much range. I always give bands credit for pushing themselves and trying something new, it’s just that sometimes, it doesn’t quite work. While Fischer is no doubt a talented singer, his vocals combined with the lazy, repetitive riffing (save for a 2 and a half minute segment that’s a bit too cheesy ballad for me) make the song little more than a sub-par hard rock song.

Ductus” is up next, and starts off with some calm, slow guitar picking, accompanied by a quote from Twin Peaks. The song picks up steam a little as the quote ends, and despite a few really out of tune guitar notes, things move along comfortably with the inclusion of some electronic elements. The pace switches about halfway through, and the song is dominated for a few moments by some heavy, rhythmic, almost tribal sounding drumming. Things tend to draw on a bit long, and I feel like this song could have been a minute or two shorter, honestly. It even ends with the cheesy, dramatic pause followed by a single loud guitar note (you know, the way bar bands end their cover set).

The best part of the following song, “Tell the End“, comes in the last 20 seconds, with an American Psycho quote. Otherwise, it is, sadly, another boring, repetitive song. “Welcome Change” features a few guest vocalists, Vincent Cavanagh from Anathema, and Norwegian singer/songwriter Petter Carlsen. Carlsen’s soft, delicate vocals are a big departure from Fischer’s hard rock style, yet they are even more powerful. Cavanagh is really only featured on the chorus, which strikes me as kind of an odd move – bringing in a guest vocalist for such a small part. The song works as a pretty good prog song, and actually is a bit of a welcome change, if only for the difference in vocals.

Waves” is an electronics heavy track, and is easily my favorite track on the album. It’s very simple, but good. Some solid guitar work, and excellent drumming, propel the track forward, but sadly things fall very, very flat with the following track, “The Man Within“. The intro drumming is top notch, but as usual on tracks with Fischer’s vocals, the music gets repetitive and very boring. There are more out of tune guitar notes here, and although there are some explosive moments on the track, it’s overall a rather predictable track.

One of the other high moments of the album is “Breaker“, a track that starts off with almost a stoner feel to it, and moves along nicely through a series of peaks and valleys, proving to be one of the more interesting tracks on the album. The album closer, “Black Hole“, starts off with an electronic, almost dancer feel to it, before progressing to a melancholic sounding end.

Ultimately, while I applaud  for branching out and taking chances, I think the album falls short. While they’re seemingly moving in a more prog oriented direction, I just don’t feel like they’ve quite gotten there yet.