2013 Year End Awards

It has been a whirlwind year here at Postrockstar as we put the finishing touches on our first full calendar year reviewing and promoting all things relevant to the world of Post-Rock and instrumental music. This year we were able review 73 albums and promoted 150 other albums, constantly offering our readers fresh new music to feast their ears upon. As you might imagine dissecting and breaking down the ins & outs of 200+ albums for these year end awards was no easy task. The team has been hard at work researching, discussing and sometimes even arguing their picks for these awards right up to the last very weekend before they went live. At the end of it all, we stand firmly behind our picks and believe these are the very best offerings of the year from some of the most talented bands in their respective subgenres. Without further Ado…

Winner : Ef – Ceremonies

“The craftsmanship and attention to detail found on this album was the first thing that grabbed my attention. ‘Ceremonies’ has so many incredibly vibrant moments that picking a favorite song is nearly impossible. There is no filler here, each of the eight tracks are all the same caliber of material that I’ve come to expect from Ef.” – James

Click here to read our full review of ‘Ceremonies’

Runner Up: Lights & Motion – Reanimation

“It’s beautiful, dramatic, powerful, to-the-point, explosive and uplifting. The culmination of everything that post-rock (or a certain school of post-rock) has been trying to achieve for the past decade. It picks your spirits up where all else has failed. It inspires feelings of awe and wonder. It’s music for stargazers. It’s the sound of your first crush and your last love.”Shooter

Click here to read our roundtable review of ‘Reanimation’

 Winner: Deafheaven – Sunbather

“Deafheaven does their thing very, very well, and with “Sunbather“, have undoubtedly released one of the greatest albums of the year. I know, it came out in June with a full 7 months of music yet to be released, but I can say with great certainty that I’ll stand by that statement.”ShaneXedge

Click here to read our review of ‘Sunbather’

Runner Up: Light Bearer – Silver Tongue

“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.” – ShaneXedge

Click here to read our review of ‘Silver Tongue’

Winner: And So I Watch You From Afar – All Hail Bright Futures

“‘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.”Shooter

Click here to read our roundtable review of ‘All Hail Bright Futures’

Runner up: Jardin De La Croix – 187 Steps To Cross The Universe

“Fasten your seat belts and secure your headphones tightly to your head because you are in for a hell of a ride. An excellent must-listen to release that is not to be taken lightly. Bands looking to melt faces in 2013 be warned: The bar has been set high.”James

Click here to read our full review of ‘187 Steps To Cross The Universe’

Winner: My Bloody Valentine – M B V

“It’s impossible to have any sort of discussion about shoegaze, as a genre, without talking about My Bloody Valentine, and as such, there were very high expectations and hopes surrounding this album. In my opinion, ‘M B V‘ lives up to the hopes..”ShanexEdge

Click here to read our full review of ‘M B V ‘

Runner up: The Fauns – Lights

“This British five piece take the best inspirational elements from all of the 90s shoegaze/dream pop giants, and churn out a masterpiece of an album (helped in no small part by Alison Garner’s incredible vocals). Though there were other huge, notable shoegaze releases this year, how many other bands released a single mixed by Clint Mansell?!” – ShaneXedge

Click here to download ‘Lights’ on bandcamp

Winner: Caspian – Hymn For The Greatest Generation

The post-rock world’s collective hearts sank for Caspian this past August with the sudden passing of bassist Chris Friedrich. In the wake of tragedy this talented collective of musicians pressed forward, touring and releasing ‘Hymn For The Greatest Generation’ , an EP that simply stood head and shoulders above the rest of the EP’s released in 2013. The acoustic styling of ‘CMF’ won our hearts as a touching tribute to their fallen brother, while the title track is simply Caspian reinventing their sound yet again.

“They never cease to amaze me because they never waver or falter, they don’t even misstep on occasion. Caspian’s career trajectory has been a clear path upward since 2009 and the band has transformed themselves into a pioneer at the forefront of a genre that desperately needs leaders. I never know what to expect from a Caspian release, but you can bet I’m going to listen to it the moment it’s released. ‘Hymn For The Greatest Generation’ is as emotionally charged as they come. You shouldn’t need any convincing why this EP is a must own.” – James

Click here to download ‘Hymn For the Greatest Generation’ on bandcamp

Runner up: Lavinia – Take Shelter EP

“The beginning seduces you, then proceeds to kick you in the balls, and you’re not even halfway through the first song. Lavinia’s EP is just too short, I wish it were an hour long.”Foofer

Click here to download ‘Take Shelter EP’ on bandcamp

Winner: Hammock – Oblivion Hymns

“..Hammock is a band that’s only true descriptor is unique. Of course, words like beautiful, ethereal, majestic, can all be used, but they fail in the most magnificent of ways. They fall short because they are just words. The music, the layers, the use of every instrument is what brings life to those hollow words.  Hammock is what people think of when they desire a soundtrack to their lives.” – TenaciousListening

Click here to read our review of ‘Oblivion Hymns’

Runner up: North Atlantic Drift – Monuments

“North Atlantic Drift’s Monuments is a powerful record that is both spacious, as ambient music is prone to being, and melodious. What wins it for me is you can drift off to this music, but you are compelled to do so with ears pricked lest you miss some of the bigger moments that almost nudge you to make sure you are still listening. The duo has blended beautifully elements of post-rock and electronica to create one of my favourite albums of 2013 and it is easily placed as runner up for the best ambient release this year.” – Bryan

Click here to download ‘Monuments’ on bandcamp

Winner: J.R. Alexander – Moments

“‘Moments‘ in many ways treads upon Alexander’s previous musical ideology except with an added presence of electronica, glitch and downtempo influence. By combining gorgeous string instrument arrangements, elegant piano work and rusticly smooth acoustic guitar work with electronic-inspired beats Alexander has created a downtempo sound that quite frankly has me struggling to find the proper way to describe it.  – James

Click here to read our review of ‘Moments’

Runner up: The Watermark High – Murmurs EP

“While ‘Slow Motion Clarity’ could be considered a more ambient, instrument focused album, ‘Murmurs’ flips the script, giving us a much more glitchy, aggressive side of Watermark High. Straight-forward post-rock fans will likely hate this pick and think that this EP has no place being anywhere near the site. Maybe they’re right, who knows, but if you can’t see the influence or parallels between post-rock and The Watermark High, your missing the entire point of what we’re trying to accomplish with Postrockstar” – James

Click here to download ‘Murmurs’ on bandcamp

Winner: Lights & Motion – Reanimation

“‘Reanimation‘ is an hour plus long magical journey that explores the depths of the soul by seamlessly transitioning between moments of glory, triumph and heartbreak. After dozens of listens I still find myself impressed at the musical mind of Christoffer Franzén (Lights & Motion). That no one particular instrument stands out as clearly being dominant or “better” than the rest speaks volumes to Franzén’s talent.”James

Click here to read our roundtable review of ‘Reanimation’

Runner up: set & setting – Equanimity

“Warmth and delicacy permeate the production values of “Equanimity.” In fact it’s almost sort of intimidating. Nothing is fragile, but everything is very delicate of spirit, like a special memory from a long time ago. Even when set and setting kick into the heavier sections they leave room for breath, which keeps the whole album sounding imbued with life.”Erich

Click here to read our review of ‘Equanimity’

Winner: This Patch of Sky – Heroes & Ghosts

This category is always difficult because there are usually several bands well deserving of this spot and this year was no different. Although proper and well thought out cases were made for those other bands, This Patch of Sky was the voting council’s collective top pick. With ‘Heroes & Ghosts’ we witnessed a transformation through maturity and comfort of a band no longer interested in simply blowing away the listener away with raw power, but rather reward the listener through complex build ups, ranges of emotions and storytelling. The leap in quality from their 2012 effort ‘Newly Risen, How Bright You Shine’ and ‘Heroes & Ghosts’ is unmistakable and the band’s new found direction only excites us for what’s to come from this young Oregon band.

“‘Heroes and Ghosts’ is an impressive step forward for a band who could have chosen to play it safe and continued to carve themselves a nice little niche in the post-rock world. For them to willingly go out of their way to reinvent their sound and further themselves as musicians is a noble undertaking that has earned the band much respect in my book.” – James

Click here to read our review of ‘Heroes & Ghosts’

Winner: EF – Ceremonies

“To say that we’ve been ultra critical of vocals in post-rock on this site would be an understatement. Vocals have the ability to ruin even the best of albums when they don’t fit in and are overbearing or they have the ability to accentuate everything around them and add an incredible amount of depth when used properly and sparingly. The vocals in Ceremonies take the latter route and are absolutely adorable, heartfelt and shine in their limited role. While much of the staff agreed there wasn’t a vocal-centric release quite like Alcest’s ‘Les Voyages de l’Âme’ which took the award this year, the vocals harmonized well enough with the rest of ‘Ceremonies’ that we felt no other album was more deserving.” James

Click here to read our review of ‘Ceremonies’

Runner up: Jesu – Everyday I Get Closer To The Light From Which I Came

“Again this is just another great example of when vocals can bring out the best in everything else around them. No one understands that better than Justin Broadrick and the vocals found within ‘Everyday I Get Closer To The Light From Which I Came’ are very much what we’ve come to love and expect from him. Downtrodden, static-laced and optimistically bleak, Broadrick’s vocals are by no means nothing you haven’t experienced before, but than again, there’s probably nobody else who could do them any better either.” – James

Click here to download ‘Everyday I Get Closer To The Light From Which I came’ on bandcamp

(Despite our best efforts we simply couldn’t pick a winner in this category and after lengthy discussion, it was agreed there would be dual winners for this category. The violin work found on ‘Ascendere’ offers the album an enormous range of depth and is really what sets it apart from the rest of the field by giving it an identity. ‘Ascendere’ is the quintessential example of how just one instrument can drastically alter a band’s entire sound. While on the other hand Ólafur Arnalds’ “For Now I Am Winter” is a testament of true classical beauty and simply in a class of its own)

Winner: Ólafur Arnalds – For Now I Am Winter

“It would have been a grave injustice for us not to give this award to Arnalds as well, who’s latest ‘For Now I Am Winter’ embodies the very essence of this category. At just 27 years of age Arnalds has classical compositions perfected, each one of his works dripping with heartfelt passages, powerful emotion and an array of sounds that just blend perfectly with one another. ‘For Now I Am Winter’ is an important album in the career of the young icelandic virtuoso, showing he capable of much more than neo-classical and ambient pieces by incorporating looping electronics, hypnotic beats and offering a slightly more aggressive side to his work. This album is gorgeous.” – James

Click here to visit Ólafur Arnalds’ website and download ‘For Now I Am Winter’

Winner: Aesthesys – Ascendere

“I tend to think of post-rock with neoclassical influence and/or string instruments as noble and place it on a pedestal much higher than the more modern third-wave stylings of big guitar crescendo and distortion driven tracks. Whenever I review an album like ‘Ascendere’ I expect so much more out of them than a standard album. In that aspect, I think Aesthesys has shined at incorporating these elements into a more traditional post-rock sound. In another light, I feel like their best work is ahead of them and that this album is just a taste of what’s to come from a band who’s potential is as bright as sun on the album cover.”James

Click here to read our review of ‘Ascendere’

Winner: God Is An Astronaut – Origins

“It is unfortunate when a band releases an album that just doesn’t connect with  their fan base and in that respect we have to give this award to God Is An Astronaut for their ‘Origins’ album. Three years removed from ‘Age of the Fifth Sun’, the band opted to leave their dreamy atmospheric sound in the past, pursuing a much different and far less appealing distortion heavy dream pop hybrid sound that left us scratching our heads. GIAA’s contributions to the post-rock realm cannot be ignored and we believe that they are band that deserves the respect and attention from the post-rock fans, but we would like to see them get back to their roots in the future.”James

Click here to download ‘Origins’ on bandcamp

Winner: Arbor Lights – Hatherton Lake

In a new addition to the year end awards we wanted to recognize the artists who’s album covers are as unique and/or beautiful as the music they create. This year there was a whole slew of potential suitors for this award but the Postrockstar staff agreed it was Arbor Lights’ “Hatherton Lake” that appealed most to our liking. The artwork comes to us from Renée Sylvestre, who captures the album’s theme and focus all too well. From the messy water colors, the finely detailed diving suite and the elegant script font, the whole package feels perfect.

“Hatherton Lake is a lake in Walsall (UK). Named after Lord Hathertonits, lore includes a story of a diver, who died in a search for the body of the Mayor of Walsall; who had drowned. With that in mind I can tell you that this track, “The Mayor and the Diver” (an extended version of “Coda” from the band’s self-titled EP) conjures the panic you could associate with seeing the light fade through the ever stilling surface of the lake as you sink, seemingly peacefully, to your death.” – TenaciousListening

Click here to read our review of ‘Hatherton Lake’


Runner up: EF – Ceremonies

“Ef has once again teamed up with Staffan Larsson to create the album artwork for Ceremonies. Larsson manages to capture the emotional highs and lows of Efs sound through his artwork. The interconnectedness of this artwork to the sound is what makes this stand out to us as the album artwork of the year.” – Bryan

Click here to read our review of ‘Ceremonies’

Winner: set & setting – “Essence of Paradox”

Post-Rock is a genre built on slow build ups, grand finales and tracks that routinely push the 10 minute mark. Not all ‘epic’ songs have to push the double digits mark nor do they have to be a brooding masterpiece of layered crescendos and false finishes. Truth is there are probably close to 50 songs that could easily contend for this award but “Essence of Paradox” by set & setting stood just taller than the rest. This song is a near 14 minute marathon of a track that packs an enormous punch, never slows down, never gives an inch, and continually builds to a finale that is well worth the wait. A true masterpiece.

“The band’s final song was “Essence of Paradox“, their  13 minute long magnum opus that felt like it was never going to end. And none of us wanted it to end either. Louder, faster, harder. Louder, faster, harder. The build up continued as a crowd in awe witnessed a band playing endlessly like the world was crumbling around them. There are few things in this life that are true and pure. Being in the band’s presence as they performed “Essence of Paradox” felt like an honor and a privilege. If set and setting was a drug, I would have overdosed and died with no regrets.”James (on “Essence of Paradox” performed live in Seattle)

Click here to read our review of ‘Equanamity’

Runner up: Cloudkicker – “A weather front was stalled out in the Pacific–like a lonely person, lost in thought, oblivious of time.”

Better known as Cloudkicker, Ben Sharp has consistently reinvented his sound with each new release to his catalog, offering his faithful following new glimpses into the mind of possibly the most complete sounding solo project on the planet. But with 2013’s ‘Subsume’ came something I don’t think any of us could have imagined: a 16 minute destroyer of worlds that completely changes everything the way we view Sharp as a musician. While 2012’s ‘Fade’ did give us one 10+ minute track, “A Weather Front…” just goes to show that Sharp’s Djentbased prog-metal (Post-Djent?) is more than capable of standing toe to toe with epics from the likes of GY!BE, EITS, Sigur Ros, etc.

“Sharp has outdone himself. After looking into Cloudkicker’s back catalogue, it seems he makes a habit of this. This time, however, He’s gone to the pinnacle of this post-metal mountain and basically established post-“djent” as not only a viable subgenre, but something so refined yet spirited that I don’t think Subsume’s legacy will ever be in question.” – Erich

Click here to read our review of ‘Subsume’

Spotify Playlist of EVERY album featured on Postrockstar in 2013

We have a New Years treat for all you spotify users out there. We’ve gone ahead and compiled a playlist featuring EVERY available on spotify album & EP that was featured on Postrockstar in 2013. This massive 855 track playlist spans over 87 hours of music. This playlist is our way of saying thanks by giving you the gift of music all in one place for you to discover, listen and enjoy.

Click the image above or go to the playlist here at Postrockstar 2013 . Be sure to come back on Friday for our 2013 Year End Awards!

Our 2013 Year End Awards are coming!

Just a quick note letting everyone know that our 2013 Year End Awards will be posted on FRIDAY!  After much internal debate and discussion, the winners have been decided and we are putting the finishing touches on our presentation of the awards. This year we are giving away 14 awards to the very best and deserving albums of 2013. Be sure check back Friday for our massive feature on the absolute must listen to albums of 2013!

You Bred Raptors seeking Drummer

(IamHopYou Bred Raptors is currently seeking a new drummer. Below is their ad found on Craigslist. Think you might be a potential candidate? Hit these guys up, they are really cool dudes with a unique sound and style..)

We are a highly successful trio looking for a new drummer to fill out this posse. . . or if you’re on the other side, a bandito outfit. We are comprised of 8 string electric bass, cello, 2 glockenspiels and drums. The band’s name is ‘YOU BRED RAPTORS?’ It’s a question. Wanna fight about it? We have been quite successful in the NYC area for the past 3 years playing shows at the Mercury Lounge, Knitting Factory, Public Assembly, Galapagos, Jacob Javits Center, The Rock Shop, The Cake Shop etc etc. Recently our drummer left to focus on work and so we are in the position to fill this void in our hearts. We have a MASSIVE online following (almost 10K on Facebook alone), steady income at every show, seasonal touring along the East Coast and connections to open up for touring bands in NYC.

Our latest music video:



We are in the Music Under New York program (with permits) playing both weekly subway shows as well as venue shows all over the 3 boroughs (no one counts Staten Island as a borough anyway).

We have been featured in New York Magazine, the Deli, The New Yorker and Bass Guitar Magazine as well as various and numerous online publications/blogs. The music is instrumental, gratifying, challenging, and has a Post-Rock feel with elements of Classical, Jazz, Metal and Hip-Hop. If you know or like any of the following bands, you might get a musical boner for what we do.

– Explosions in the Sky
– Russian Circles
– Wintergatan
– Scale the Summit
– Pelican
– Buckethead
– Primus
– Mogwai
– Tortoise

Yes, we wear masks and scientist outfits. Yes, we have an entire back story that you would be hurled into, but the experience is TOTALLY tits. We play to an absurd amount of people during subway performances and hit more demographics than any other touring band because of that. This translates to a huge built in audience for venue shows/other events. We have released two LPs and an EP, all of which have been very successful in sales. We have decided on using the rest of this summer to regroup with a new drummer and prep for Fall recording. We have 12 new songs ready to be recorded (all of which we have live recordings of in one form or another).

Here’s what we need from you:

– NOT a hired gun. We need a full time member who gives a shit about the project and isn’t just looking to get paid. We have the money, we just don’t have the time to print out an I9 and W4 form for you.

– A Flexible Schedule. Lots of shows and rehearsals. We reside and practice in Astoria. We also have a monthly residence here.

– Proper Gear. We are willing to purchase a new drumkit for subway performances but your own kit is essential. We have a practice space in the area for a reasonable monthly cost.

– Musical Versatility. Don’t be one of those wiener priests who can only recite one style of music. We love all types of music and while we use elements from each, this position is all about pushing boundaries of the unusual and striving to make new and interesting sounds.

– Reading music is a plus but not mandatory: The former drummer has parts written for glockenspiel and drums that we are used to. Look at it, make it your own, high five… out.

– Willing to learn glockenspiel is a plus but not mandatory.

You will get paid but the band fund is always the favorite child. We have a bank account. We are stupidly professional. Our money goes to merch, CD’s, recording costs and Chex Mix. We’re currently working on a new album, scoring the new film from TROMA pictures and are in talks with a few minor labels. . . We don’t want to get bogged down by unnecessary bullshit. Long story short, this is a serious commitment and is demanding of attention/effort, all of which will be paid for in dollars, friendship, and great times playing/creating music.

If this sounds awesome (and it is), don’t be shy.

Please contact us! Or we’ll take a toaster bath!

You Bred Raptors?

Where did all the reviews go?

I’ve stopped writing music reviews because after 10 months and 150 reviews my listening habits have gotten drastically worse and my overall enjoyment of all music has severely decreased to the point where listening to new music and writing reviews is no longer fun. I love music too much to keep doing this to myself, so I’m making the selfish decision to abstain from writing reviews at this time.

I always had this Holden Caulfield ala Catcher in the Rye complex when it came to Postrockstar. If I knew about a release, no matter how big or how obscure it might be, I needed to review it. I needed to save every album from being just another strand of data on the infinite internet. The people needed to know about the these artists and their works of art that they would otherwise probably never find. When you think like this and are in a position to discover bands and albums at will, backlogs of work quickly form. At the height of Postrockstar, I was pouring 12-15 hours a week into this site and still not scratching the surface of our backlog. Even with the help of other writers, who write for our site for no compensation, we could never keep up with the sheer amount of requests we get from bands asking to review their work. As it stands my inbox sits at 96 unread messages, 3 weeks after I removed the email link from the site.

Which leads me to the other reason I’ve stopped writing reviews: Bands who take reviews personal. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a lot of very personable bands who have facilitated my every need and have been nothing but kind and helpful to me.  The majority of the time I enjoyed what I heard from them and we both mutually benefited from our contact with one another.But what am I to do when I receive their music and I dislike it? If I write a negative review to a band who has been courteous to me and Postrockstar, a band will come back to me upset and in full defense mode. It’s happened on more occasions than I can recall. A lot of people wonder why our website has a lack of negative reviews. If I write a negative review, who am I really helping? I put myself in an awkward position with the band and ultimately put postrockstar in a no-win situation. We piss off a band and sometimes even our readers who disagree with the review. The only thing bad reviews have ever done for the site is increase our traffic. I’m not in the controversy business. I’m in the discover new music business.

Lastly, just as there are bands who are extremely friendly and helpful, unfortunately there are quite a few bands out there that are pushy, disrespectful and have treated Postrockstar as just another way to sell albums. I am more than willing to help promote hard-working bands and help undiscovered talents get exposure. I am not OK with being treated poorly by bands who are trying to push $15 independently released bandcamp downloads down our reader’s throats. In those 96 unread messages from the last 5 weeks, there are no less than four bands who have sent 6 or more emails  including one band who has sent exactly 12 emails. If you are in a band that recently sent us an email and want to know why we haven’t responded, it’s because I’ve all together stopped taking requests and don’t have the heart to tell hard-working bands “No” to their requests for reviews. It’s a case of a few bad apples ruining it for the rest of the bunch.

As much as I love post-* music and want to keep helping people discover music, I’m not willing to do it at the expense of my own happiness. When I started Postrockstar last year I was between careers with all the free time in the world. As that came to an end and I adjusted back to life as an office drone, my free time became less and less which meant that I value it more and more. I realized I couldn’t keep pouring all my free time into something that wasn’t making me happy. Music reviews ultimately became a thankless never-ending job for all the reasons above. I’m not ruling out writing reviews in the future and Postrockstar will still continue to promote albums and post relevant news we see fit. I’m sorry if this comes as a severe disappointment.