Archive for the ‘post-rock’ Tag
I’ve been meaning to write about these guys for yonks. Overhead, The Albatross are a Dublin based post-rock six-piece. If there’s one thing Ireland isn’t short of its post/math rock acts. From international giants like God is as Astronaut and And So I Watch You From Afar to the likes of Halves and Enemies, we’re well stocked when it comes to instrumental rock acts.
What I can’t understand is why Overhead haven’t made a bigger impression. Their debut EP Lads With Sticks is riddled with big cinematic crescendos, the likes of which Explosions In The Sky and This Will Destroy You have championed for years. And having seen them live for the first time when they rocked the Pavilion in Cork earlier this summer, I can vouch for their live presence. The end of ‘Footprints in The Bloodsaoked Snow’ was a genuine hairs standing on the back of your neck moment.
Even if you think you’ve heard it all from the Irish post-rock scene give Overhead, The Albatorss a listen.
It’s more than a little clichéd to refer to post-rock as “epic” or “cinematic” but few adjectives better describe the near tangible presence of an Explosions in the Sky song. The Texas-based four-piece seem to have a copyright over the sound of marching snare rolls set against delicate layering of guitar. Their range has shown little divergence since 2000’s How Strange, Innocence but this lack of variety has done little to damage their popularity. You know what to expect from Explosions, it’ll be all crests and troughs building to a screeching climax. This predictability should render the music somewhat stale but the fact is they write damn good tunes, just ask any fan of Friday Night Lights.
Take Care, Take Care, Take Care is the bands first release since 2007’s All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone, and you get the feeling the niche to which they have limited themselves is finally getting a little cramped. It’s not that this six track LP lacks the quality of the previous five but for the first time there is a distinct feeling of deja entendu. When adhering to such a tight framework, there’s only so much re-arranging of sound and re-tuning of guitars that can be done.
Third track ‘Trembling Hands’ sticks out like a sore thumb as the “something new.” It’s by a distance the shortest track, clocking just 3.31 and is the only offering of vocals on the album. Much like Mogwai’s recent voyage into unknown territory, this experiment takes away from an otherwise solid post-rock compilation. Almost as if in a rush to get back to what they do best, ‘Trembling Hands’ takes the established Explosions in the Sky blueprint and speeds it up with the questionable, or perhaps more accurately, unnecessary inclusion of vocals.
The other five tracks all work their magic in their own way. ‘Postcard From 1952′ takes two minutes to find its voice before coming to life in a celebration of guitars with the incessant crashing of cymbals. Album closer’ Let Me Back In’ grows more engaging with every listen while ‘Human Qualities’ playfully pokes and jabs before delivering a spectacular knockout punch. The stats read five tried and tested tunes to one experimental and five triumphs to one disappointment. Take Care, Take Care, Take Care is a consuming post-rock album but falls just short of the heights reached by The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place and All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone, unlike those LP’s this one shows signs of a band confined to sound which is running low on room for creative expression.
Several acts can lay claim to a devoted cult following, with Mogwai it’s more like an army with separate factions. While it is almost universally accepted that the Glasgow outfit’s debut LP Young Team, released in 1997 is their best to date, subsequent releases have proved more than a bit divisive. Having stretched the boundaries of their post-rock sound over five other albums you got the feeling they were going to try something a little different this time round. While Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will takes the prize for best title so far, the album is the weakest to date.
Disappointingly it’s these ventures into pastures new that inspire the album’s downfall. Over the last 15 years Stuart Braithwaite and company have mastered both ends of the post-rock spectrum. From the haunting delicacy of tunes like Cody to the teeth-grinding roar of numbers such as Glasgow Mega Snake. Vitally however, every album had a clear direction, a coherence. HWNDBYW loses itself somewhere between the classic Mogwai sound and a fresh start. Guarding the two most experimental tracks “Mexican Grand Prix” and “George Square Thatcher Death Party” are tunes which would fit seamlessly into other Mogwai albums, the result however is an LP that lacks its own identity.
Effects-laden vocals and an electronic beat mark new territory in “Mexican Grand Prix”, falling somewhere in between Radiohead and Liars. The fancy new tricks will do little to engage new listeners or impress seasoned followers as the track lacks any edge or imagination. More frustratingly on “George Square Thatcher Death Party” the tiresome synth and irritating auto-tuned vocals interfere with a stomping guitar riff.
It shouldn’t go unmentioned that HWNDBYW has its high points, “Death Rays” showcases Mogwai’s expertise in blending the loud with the timid and “San Pedro” packs a real punch once it gets its act together half way through. The problem is that even the moments of inspiration seem out-of-place on the album and you can’t help thinking how much cosier theywould be in one of the previous offerings. Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will is not a bad album, it’s just not a great album and due to the standards they have set themselves, many people expect greatness. In the many factions of the Mogwai army, there will be very few flying the flag for this release.
What better way to kick-start 2011 than a new video from Glasgow’s finest export? Anthony Crook’s video appeared on Nowness in early December and represents the first single off Mogwai‘s upcoming EP gloriously entitled Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will. The absorbing cinematography captures the soundscapes over landscapes effect of the music which lacks Mogwai’s customary spine-tingling bleakness but is altogether lovely and how often do we get to call post-rock lovely, eh? They play Galway’s Roisin Dubh on Valentines Night and The Olympia on Tuesday the 15th of Feb.
Very excited to hear post-rock giants Mogwai announce dates in Belfast, Galway and Dublin in early February. I’ve seen the Glasgow outfit twice before and can promise these gigs will leave your ears ringing for days, in a good way. Book early as tickets are sure to be snapped up quickly. They play Mandela Hall on the 13th, Galway’s Radisson Hotel the 14th and The Olympia theatre on the 15th.
Adebisi Shank are back with their second LP This is the Second Album of a Band Called Adebisi Shank, it’s nice to see their no-nonsense approach to album titles is unwavering. Already sitting at the forefront of Ireland’s considerable post/math rock scene, Adebisi Shank have given themselves every chance of further international recognition to add to last year’s tours of Japan and the UK with an album that marks a serious jump forward for the band.
While the foundations of their sound; fast, unpredictable, loud, dance provoking, remain intact these have been channelled to create more cohesive songs, adding some degree of method to the madness. Renowned for their chaotic live performances, one tends to think of Adebisi’s music as the soundtrack to anarchy, while they maintain this sound on much of This is the Second… there are notable divergences. (-_-) sees the lads enter unchartered territory, looping glitchy hip-hop beats with laid back guitar and water-like synths creating one hell of a chill out tune midway through the album.
Having cemented a name for themselves on This is the Album of a Band Called Adebisi Shank they clearly used this record as a chance to be more expressive and experimental. For one thing the album has electronics permeating through from start to finish. This is not to say that the jolting bass and frenetic guitar have been turned down to facilitate a different sound, rather the synths are used to add power to the already formidable punch of the album.
This album represents a step up in Adebisi Shank’s ability as songwriters. They have retained their raw sound, added new dimensions and composed songs with a direction, which don’t fall into the trap of hanging in midair unsure of where to go. Conor O’ Brien chipped in offering vocals which arrive in the form of calming melodies on Frunk and Europa. Logdrum, clocking over six minutes is the giant of the LP. The intro has more than a hint of Animal Collective and the song progresses with subtle tempo changes portraying a patience and craft previously overlooked.
Adebisi are back, they’ve brought all their old tricks with them, but this time they’ve brought a lot more.
Leicester based post-rockers Maybeshewill have announced two Irish gigs in October. On the 19th they play the Phoenix in Cork before heading to Baker’s Place in Limerick on the 20th. they’re sure to put on some ear-bleedingly awesome shows.