2020 in Review: Post Rock

The year in review ends on a high note with a short but potent list of post rock albums, EPs, & singles. Some of the bands are new to these pages and some mark a welcome return from a lengthy gap between releases, some as long as five or six years. Whichever the case, what they all provided were moments of exhilarating beauty and much needed catharsis during a difficult year.

A Sudden Burst of Colour

[self-released]

Link: https://asbocmusic.bandcamp.com/album/forever-captivator-aa

Hailing from Motherwell in Scotland, A Sudden Burst of Colour is an instrumental rock trio with an exuberant style laden with shimmering, clean guitars, driving rhythms, and strong melodic hooks. The band lives up to their name on this EP with two brand new tracks and a pair of lively reworks by electronic music producers Joey Fehrenbach and Alex Rose (Minus the Bear), aka Nightblind.

Released on CD and digital with additional merch options available


All Shall Be Well – ZWARTGROEN

[self-released]

Link: https://allshallbewell.bandcamp.com/album/zwartgroen

This five-piece collective from the Netherlands brings a splash of color to the sometimes bleak landscape of post rock with their unique combination of chromatic themes and storytelling approach to composition. ZWARTGROEN (black/green) is the band’s collagic musical tale of survivors negotiating a post-apocalyptic world that mines the public domain archive of Rijksmuseum Amsterdam for both its inspiration and its artwork. Lush, melodic, and beautifully arranged, it is a sumptuous and satisfying listen.

Released on limited edition CD and green vinyl LP


Astralia – So Near So Far

[Aloud Music]

Link: https://astralia.bandcamp.com/track/so-far-so-near

The Spanish atmospheric post-rock trio released their first new music in three years with this single recorded one summer afternoon in Barcelona last year, a piece as majestic and uplifting as the mountains that loom over the horizon beyond their home town. “Distance only exists for what we long for…”

Digital release only


Caspian – On Circles

[Triple Crown Records]

Links: Bandcamp (digital) | Triple Crown Records (CD/LP)

On their first full-length studio album since 2015’s Dust and Disquiet, Caspian continues to stretch their sound in new & creative directions with one of their most adventurous efforts yet and one that yields many beautiful and exhilarating moments. Among the highlights here are the overlapping guitar & saxophone lines of the rousing “Wildblood” and the intertwining of Shelly Weiss’ violin and Jo Quali’s cello on the radiant “Ishmael”.

Released digitally, on CD, and in several vinyl LP editions (black, blue/green, clear green with splatter)


Glories – Distant After

[self-released]

Link: https://glories.bandcamp.com/album/distant-after

The triumphant return of Glories with Distant After, their first record since the tragic loss of band brother and guitarist Zach Cooner in the summer of 2017. Working with producer, mixer & engineer Jeremy SH Griffith and music recorded in their own basements, Adam Blevins, Dallas Kelley, & Kyle Posten have created another radiant Glories record that no doubt has special meaning to them as well as listeners who have bonded with their music over the years. 

Digital release only


Signal Hill / North End – Winnebago Drive / Cabra

[Better Looking Records]

Links: Signal Hill Bandcamp | North End Bandcamp

Aftrer having a northeastern US tour cancelled in the spring due to Covid-19, two bands found a different way to collaborate and connect with fans by recording new tracks for this split EP whose geographic spread from LA to London is depicted by map points on the cover. The wayfaring “Winnebago Drive” is an imaginary road trip with Signal Hill at their summery sounding best while North End’s math-rock oriented “Cabra” is full of hairpin turns and high-speed crescendos.

Released digitally and on limited 7-inch colored vinyl (red or blue)


Sora Shima – At the Edge of Hope Is Despair

[self-released]

Link: https://sorashima.bandcamp.com/album/at-the-edge-of-hope-is-despair

It was a pleasant surprise to hear the first new music in six years from New Zealand’s Sora Shima who we’ve not heard from since their outstanding 2014 release, You Are Surrounded. The tracks may be short, but are no less epic for their brevity.

Digital release only


Still Motions- Mirrors

[Post.Recordings / Araki]

Link: https://stillmotions.bandcamp.com/album/mirrors

Still Motions is a four piece ambient post rock band out of Phoenix, Arizona arriving on the scene with a strong debut balancing crunching riffs, thundering percussion, and anthemic crescendos with atmospheric guitars and well-crafted melodies. A cathartic and ultimately uplifting listen.

Released digitally, on CD, and in two limited vinyl editions (white with gold splatter and vice versa)


Sunlight Ascending – Echos in Green

[Dropping Bombs]

Links: Bandcamp (digital) | Dropping Bombs (vinyl)

Another band returning from a long absence is Sunlight Ascending with the soaring William Blake inspired epic Echos in Green, their first new studio material in nearly 5 years which the band recorded in Toronto near the start of the pandemic. A limited vinyl pressing of the single will be available in February 2021.

Released digitally and on limited edition vinyl (green or yellow)


Unwed Sailor – Look Alive

[Old Bear Records / Steadfast Records]

Link: https://unwedsailor.bandcamp.com/album/look-alive

Founded in Seattle in 1998, Johnathon Ford is leading his instrumental post-rock band Unwed Sailor into its third decade with the release of a new album next month. Behind Ford’s sinewy bass, Matt Putman’s driving beats, and David Swatzell’s buzzing guitars, Look Alive is an energetic outing that howls as much as it soars as the trio reference musical touchstones across a swath of styles ranging from new wave and shoegaze to indie rock.

Released digitally and on CD, vinyl LP, and cassette


Vasudeva – Generator

[Skeletal Lightning]

Link: https://vasudeva.bandcamp.com/album/generator

The New Jersey based trio of Vasudeva have never sounded more assured as they apply sophisticated atmospheric textures and studio techniques to their taut, dynamic instrumentals. With a free-flowing style as strongly rooted in R&B as it is in rock, the result is a musical adrenaline rush with a dose of the cerebral.

Released digitally, CD, and two limited vinyl editions – pink and ‘clear in black’


Whalefall – It Will Become Itself

[self-released]

Link: https://whalefall.bandcamp.com/album/it-will-become-itself

It was a serendipitous evening in June 2018 when all five members of Whale Fall found themselves in Los Angeles at the same time and decided to go into the studio with some new ideas to work on. Listening back to that recording after rediscovering it months later, the band they realized what had originally been intended as a loose improvisational session had instead yielded something much closer to a complete record that needed only minimal polishing in the studio to stand on its own. An adventurous peregrination into melody, noise, and texture punctuated by lovely piano and brass passages.

Released digitally, on CD, and in two limited vinyl LP editions – black and ‘pacific blue’

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