You May Die in the Desert – International Waters – 80%

International Waters cover art

(Iamhop: Please welcome László Reynolds to postrockstar ! László is 15 years of age and lives in New Zealand. His favorite bands include GY!BE, Slint, Mogwai, Isis, and My Bloody Valentine. This is his debut review.)

Coming to us from rainy city of Seattle, Washington, You May Die in the Desert are  still in the Bandcamp phase of their career and looking to break out. Although you can order a physical copy of International Waters online, you won’t be seeing ten pristine vinyl copies lined up in the ‘new releases’ shelves sporting yellow $35.99 stickers in your local record store anytime soon. They’ve made albums prior to this, in fact they’ve been a unit for around seven years, but their work still carries all the ferocity and bright-eyed artistic enthusiasm of a new band who are booking their first studio.

International Waters is one of those albums where the cover artwork reflects the music almost flawlessly. The hard, straight edges and borders represent a common thread, an order, whereas the sprawling coastline portrays Waters’ relentless and dizzying, but surprisingly fresh crescendos, swells and breakdowns. Brandon Salter, one third of this get-up, (he also made the cover art, funny enough) is a beast on this album. His guitar sparkles in a way that makes me think of a half-way split between the jazz fusion/djent-inspired tones of Animals as Leaders, and the bright, reverb-soaked shimmer that we all know so well from Explosions in the Sky.

What Waters has also pulled off well is sounding incredibly tight and practiced, yet actually playing the songs with a live mentality, with an in-the-moment liberty and carelessness. An example of this is the intro to ‘West of 1848’, a very memorable track here. The drums burst in with this brief and ungainly yet monolithic and pounding fill as the shining sheets of guitars and bass kick into life. And as this song progresses further, and that one riff starts up, it becomes evident – this is no ordinary post-rock album, and that’s all it really comes down to.

Available for $9 or more at Bandcamp: