2013 Travelogue: Twenty Outstanding Post Rock Albums (part 1)

This is one of a series of “travelogues”, or year-in-review posts, covering music I especially enjoyed this year.  First I’ll look at twenty albums in the category of post rock that really stood out and resonated with me.  These are the first ten.  Note that the albums are not in any kind of ranked order, but are simply listed alphabetically by artist.  

65daysofstatic – Wild Light

Wonderfully melodic, rhythmically inventive, perfectly balanced between sophistication and raw energy, ‘Wild Light’ is exhilarating ride from start to finish. Tracks like ‘ Prisms’ , ‘Unmake the Wild Light’, and ‘The Undertow’ are likely to get stuck on repeat for weeks.  This record demands to played loud and often.

Release: The Bird’s Robe Collective (September 2013)

Favorite tracks:  Unmake the Wild Light, Prisms

Information: http://birdsrobe.bandcamp.com/album/wild-light

Aural Method – Slumber, Savage Beasts 

A pleasant surprise so soon after the release of ‘When I Drifted I Heard a Faint Melody’, Matthew Kidd delivered another poetically themed masterpiece built around a haiku (Slumber, savage beasts / in lonesome winter forest / breathe deep your chorus).  It is a patient, graceful, and organic record where the music flows from heart to hands to instrument.  The soaring crescendo of the title track was one of my favorite musical moments heard in the genre this year.

Release: Independent (May 2013)

Favorite track:  Slumber, Savage Beasts, In Lonesome Winter Forest 

Information:  http://auralmethod.com/album/slumber-savage-beasts-2

Bright Like the Sun – Coda Fin

‘Coda Fin’ is a beautiful and assured debut from this 5-piece band hailing from San Antonio.  On first listen to ‘Across the Floors of Silent Seas’, I was smitten with their lyrical sound bristling with chaos and energy just below the surface.  Whatever it is that generates so much top class post rock in the great state of Texas, long may it continue.

Release: Independent (April 2013)

Favorite track:  Across the Floors of Silent Seas, Fathers

Information:  http://brightlikethesun.bandcamp.com/album/coda-fin-2

Caspian – Hymn for the Greatest Generation 

Technically considered an EP, ‘Hymn for the Greatest Generation’ delivers a complete listening experience that stands up against any album released this year with three magnificent new tracks and two inventive remixes, & a demo based on material from their previous release, ‘Waking Season’.  Favorite moments include the cathartic beauty of ‘The Heart that Fed’, the delicate acoustics of ‘CMF’, and a hypnotic treatment of ‘Procellous’ by Arms & Sleepers.

Release: Triple Crown Records (November 2013)

Favorite tracks:  The Heart that Fed, Procellous (Arms & Sleepers remix)

Informationhttp://caspiantheband.bandcamp.com/album/hymn-for-the-greatest-generation

Civil Protection – Stolen Fire

 

Civil Protection may be perceived as a “new” band, but it won’t take long for anyone who listens to ‘Stolen Fire’ to realize this is a group of guys who are brimming with skill, experience, and creativity (some may be familiar with the solo work of guitarist/vocalist Adam Fielding).  The album covers a wide dynamic range with gorgeous melodies, power chords galore, and a crack rhythm section delivering sophisticated bass lines and deft drumming.  This one goes to 11.

Release: Bunnysnot Records (October 2013)

Favorite tracks:  Stolen Fire, Monedula

Information: http://civilprotection.bandcamp.com/album/stolen-fire

Dorena – Nuet

The opening strains of ‘Semper’ tell you all you need to know about this delightful brand of post rock from Swedish band Dorena, a unique blend of indie, rock, pop, and electronic influences.  Nuet is a beautiful record that sparkles with nuances and clever arrangements.  The overall feeling is bright and uplifiting, but the guys can certainly put on a rousing jam as evidenced by the outro of ‘My Childhood Friend’

Release: Deep Elm Records (March 2013)

Favorite tracks:  Semper, My Childhood Friend

Information: http://deepelmdigital.com/album/nuet

GIAA – Origins

Returning to the label that put out their 2005 breakthrough album ‘All is Violent, All is Bright’, Ireland’s God is an Astronaut put out a diverse and highly listenable album with ‘Origins’.  The sound is unmistakably GIAA, but they are confident enough to widen their canvas and conquer some new sonic territory.  It’s hard to pin down a single favorite song or moment, but this record just flows beautifully from beginning to end.

Release: Rocket Girl Records (September 2013)

Favorite tracks:  Spiral Code, Calistoga 

Information: http://rocketgirl-godisanastronaut.bandcamp.com/album/origins

Glories  – Mother Reverb

Having only heard a 3-track EP that came out early last year, I was very enthusiastic to finally see the full length debut of this 5-man band from Birmingham, Alabama.  ‘Mother Reverb’ contains new recordings of two songs from that early EP and four brand new tracks, all of which boast their slightly southern Gothic take on post rock which heavily references Explosions in the Sky at their melodic best.  The evocative title and plaintive tones of ‘Mechanical Mariner’ should pull your right in and then you likely will not want to leave.

Release: Independent (April 2013)

Favorite tracks:  Mechanical Mariner, Pagan Holiday 

Information: http://glories.bandcamp.com/album/mother-reverb

I Am Waiting for you Last Summer  – In Eternal Lines 

This trio from Ryazan, Russia, produces a stunning and heady brand of post rock like no other.  The music is heavily permeated by chill, dubstep, and drum and bass aesthetics yet it rocks out fierce and loud.  The result is a sound that can range from dreamy to room shaking, sometimes in the same song.  You really have to hear it for yourself and with In Eternal Lines they have never sounded better.

Release: Flowers Blossom in Space (October 2013)

Favorite tracks:  Through the Walls, Distant Voices 

Listen/Order: http://iwfyls.bandcamp.com/album/in-eternal-lines

Karl Verkade  – Collections II 

Collections II contains four pieces that Karl describes as “a collection of ambient, experimental, dystopian, and soothing guitar and voice pieces that have expressed my soul at one time or another over the past few months.”.   And while ambient guitar might be the most expedient description, I think this album should appeal very strongly to the post rock crowd.  While the “dystopian” element is present, it is subtle.  The net effect of the music is soothing rather than unsettling.  The first track, ‘Under Two Skies’ is one of the most beautiful and absorbing pieces of solo electric guitar I’ve ever heard. It clocks in at over 38 minutes and I would not want it to be one second shorter.

Release: Independent (May 2013)

Favorite track:  Under Two Skies

Information: http://karlverkade.bandcamp.com/album/collections-ii

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