Posts Tagged ‘post rock’

Into the arms of infinity

I’ve been dreaming of this moment for a long, long time. 3 years, in fact. 3 years, an demo and a name change later, I’m proud to bring you the Is This Revolutionary? review of Signals to Vega’s debut album, Into The Arms of Infinity. Anyone who’s been following this blog knows my infatuation with this band. From the moment “Faster, My Friend… The Old World Is Behind You” began, I was head over heels. I’ve gotten to know David, Ricky, Joe and Zac since 2010, and they are as fantastic musicians as they are people. Their music has gotten me through the darkest of times, and I only hope you can take away from it what I can.

The album starts, and you are immediately brought into the fold of what Signals to Vega is all about: big volume & big emotion; “Redshift” grabs onto your heartstrings and never lets go. What I love about this song, which is reflective of the entire album, is the incredibly full song structure due to the combination of the guitar parts. Their wall of sound is so warm and inviting, and pairing that with such a beautiful second guitar creates an atmosphere that is unlike any other. Each moment you’re listening, whether you’re alone in your car or in a crowded subway station, your soul fuses with the sound and you become one with the music. If any stronger evidence is needed, 3:48 of “Oh, Rhien” is the strongest example of how well they pull it off. It may seem simple, but the way they build up, slow it down, and then resume without any loss of momentum takes a whole lot of artistic skill and creativity. The hidden gem is the drums, which are overlooked because of the show-stealing guitars. If you take a good listen, you’ll realize how talented of a musician that man is, and how he really provides the grounding that allows the entire band to work.

Rating: I almost feel this section is unnecessary. I have seen this band grow and develop over the past three years (all the different copies I have of “Fear Not the Cycle of Life” as proof) and their ability is unmistakable. I will stake my entire reputation on this claim: Signals to Vega is the pinnacle of post-rock. Into The Arms of Infinity is proof that what I said on November 22, 2010 was correct, “[Signals to Vega] will rise as one of the best post-rock bands in the next decade.” If you don’t believe me, take a listen. You’ll never be the same again. 5/5 kegs as probably the best album I’ve had the pleasure of listening to.

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I think Joe used to like this band (R.I.P., buddy).

All right, so this was one of those albums that got lost in the shuffle. And by lost in the shuffle, I mean they gave me the download for free, I lost it, and then proceeded to listen to it on loop on Spotify. Hopefully they got at least a little bit of money. Anyway, Battlestations is this super-cool post-rock band from Brussels, Belgium. Before you say, “Ben, you always say something’s super-cool and never back it up”, I’ll give you this: In A Cold Embrace gives me this incredible feeling that I hated, therefore I loved. What I mean is that I don’t think I’ve heard an album that’s made me feel this alone since the first time I listened to Boards of Canada (try Geogaddi). Granted, the album artwork and the song titles (“You Are Not Welcome Here”) didn’t help, but it was much more than that. The songs constantly feature sounds going in reverse, which ALWAYS freaks me out, and really deep voices saying things that I don’t even want to decipher.

Between being scared half to death and suppressing the urge to turn on the lights, there was really something to love about this album. Their inspirations are all over the place, and I swear, they have some of the most impressive and eclectic layering  their songs. On their first track, they go from this cLOUDDEAD trip-hop beat to featuring a flamenco-style Spanish guitar, all the while over this guttural SunnO))) drone. The combination seems out there, but it blew my mind with how awesome it sounded together.

Track 2, “Comrade/ The Way We Grieve”, gave me the chills. Again with the layering, the entire song was like one big, fantastic game of “We Love Katamari“. The bass line was outrageous, and the fact that build-up broke all of a sudden after 5 minutes was a little bit disappointing. However, that’s part of the reason why I love this band and this album: they constantly keep you on your toes. You never know what you’re getting next, and it’s beautiful.

Rating: I literally could rant and rave for a paragraph for almost every song, but that would take entirely too long for the point I’m trying to get across: buy this album. It’s for fans for those who enjoy off-the-beaten-path instrumental music. If you’re the kind of person who likes their music one part experimental, one part heavy, one part haunting, and one part beautiful, Battlestations is your band. 4/5 kegs. [P.S.- Totally wins the “Creepiest Album Art Ever” award. By far.]

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Twincities- Self-Titled (2011)

Posted: September 23, 2011 by Is This Revolutionary? in Album, Long Island, Reviews
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“I find the direct negative correlation between amount of gear and the amount of notes played on the gear fascinating.” – Dave Friedrich

My friends, nature works in a very easy way to understand: the most basic way is generally the best way to take. How we wish everything in life could be like nature, but think about how many times it actually is. When I need comfort in a good meal, I don’t seek fancy, exquisite dishes; rather, I turn to simple (albeit fattening) foods to put me in a better mood. Relaxation, I’ll take a cup of tea and a good book over a hiking trip. There’s just something to be said about simplicity that taps into our essence and puts us in line with nature itself.

The same premise occurs in music, although on a scale that is a little harder to recognize. Remember the calming tune your parents would hum to soothe you to sleep, which very well be the one that you’ll hum to your little ones when they are fussing. The sound of the ocean rolling up upon a deserted shoreline can bring the feeling of inner peace to the listener, whether there to experience the actual event or not. This concept is embraced and harnessed by Twincities, a four-piece instrumental band from Long Island, New York. The beauty of their music comes not from the amount of notes they can play in a single moment, nor how long they can hold a delay pedal down (as many up-and-coming post-rock bands think it key), but the emotion and passion by which they play.

The first track sets up the mood for the entire album, from its beautiful first notes accompanied by a faint resonance and xylophone to its eventual crash symbol-filled end. Appropriately entitled “1” , this song takes you through the crescendo-ing that is a staple of many of the bands in this genre.

“2”, the next track, starts off in a very similar manner (don’t worry, there’s a pattern here). The beginning is a glockenspiel solo lasts for nearly a whole 2 minutes, but it’s the delicate sound against the silence and eventual guitar build-up that makes you appreciate the powerful influx of energy that follows. Midway through “2”, the second guitar takes a heavy, sludge turn that juxtaposes the staccato, crisp lead guitar as it echos together in a Souvenir’s Young America type feel (less heavy, but the resemblance is there).

The intro into “3” sounds like it’s going in reverse, which is a really nice touch, but it’s the rest of the song that stands out by staying quiet. The glockenspiel drifting in and out of audibility along with a very faint resonance wall brings a touch of artistic minimalism, making you feel like you’re on a porch before a thunderstorm, the light winds sounding a wind chime above you.

This carries into the beginning of “4”, where it is met by a pair of dissonance-laced guitars. The pace speeds up, unexpectedly, which is followed by an enthusiastic drum roll intro into a beat which brings to mind old Explosions in the Sky. The crash symbols light up the already inspirational mood set by the rapid guitar and drum-line, and everything burns out like a star on its final cycle. It then reverts to their familiar calm before it rebirths at the end, filled with energy and duel between the two guitar parts. The battle climaxes into feedback, which then ends the album.

Rating: To hit your stride on a first release is very difficult, especially when the options are so vast, as in the case of instrumental music. Russian Circles had something magical from their first EP, and they’ve grown into the post-rock/metal juggernauts we know them as today. Signals To Vega also had a similar outing, and we’ve yet to see any forward progression towards a new album, but that’s only a matter of time. Twincities is one of the rare, few bands that will be making a name for themselves from the start. For it’s honesty, simplicity and subtle beauty, this album deserves a 4.5/5.

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Author’s note: Twincities features Is This Revolutionary?’s own Salvatore as well as Ricky and I’s mutual friends Fletcher and Matt. An interview will be coming fairly soon.

Listener- Wooden Heart (2010)

Posted: September 19, 2011 by Is This Revolutionary? in Album, Reviews
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Listener is what Dan Smith calls “Talk Music”. Essentially, this involved Smith performing one of his many magnificent poems over a variety of different types of music. From post-rock to banjo, Listener’s got it all.

You listen to the first song and you think someone put an insane person’s rant to music. Although an interesting concept, Smith’s spontaneous shouting is part of the charm. And the lyrics, oh, the lyrics, they are of the utmost beauty. As me (infuriating, see bottom) friend remarked, “It seems like you can quote 12-12 things Smith says per song and be absolutely floored. Like, jaw-dropped.” And that’s not to understate the rest of what he has to say. He has a flow and delivery like Buddy Wakefield, but it’s his singing that really takes Listener to a whole new level. He sounds like an unprofessional Adam Duritz (of the Counting Crows) with a southern twang to his pronunciation, which makes him sound more like your best friend than a man on a recording. The banjo complements his voice (seeing as he is from Arkansas), but his speech and content fit more of the post-rock atmosphere he delivers on a number of the songs. Great lyrics, unique sounds, and true passion makes Wooden Heart an album to pick up.

Rating: I promised myself I’d grade harsher. I was tired of giving out consistent high ratings; it made us look like a positive-review vending machine where you submit a release and you get a good word. I really felt like most of them deserved what I gave them, but I have never felt as strongly as this. Wooden Heart gets a 5/5 kegs.

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My friend showed me a song from this album months ago, and so I looked up the entire thing. We re-listened to it last night, and he called me a liar for saying I had listened to it previously. Uh…okay, you are the lord of Listener. Enjoy your crown. /endrant

Hail the Titans- Hymns of Mare Nostrum (2011)

Posted: September 9, 2011 by Is This Revolutionary? in Album, Reviews
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Another post I let slip away due to our horrible organization skills.

The first thing you hear is an ebbing and flowing of a wall of sound, which struck me as off for a band called Hail the Titans, a title that sounds more commanding and forceful than the whimsy that came from the first song. It was peaceful and ambient in a way that fused The American Dollar and When The World Was Sound.

The band itself has a very unique style. Not sticking to either the previously mentioned ambiance, an intense And So I Watch You From Afar sound, or anything else in particular, it’s very hard to describe what they were going for, which I think it good, all in all. The first three tracks are very, very solid.

Then comes “Wave Goodbye to the Shoreline; Hello Giant Squid”,  a monster of a track than was noisy and had an awful gap for about 3 minutes of what sounded like free-form jazz and microphone feedback (think of all the reasons you hated Animal Collective’s second album). The beginning and end, however, were enough to redeem the track as a whole and progress through the album. But, at that mark, Hail the Titans bring the power that I was expecting: “Cesium” was filled with the beauty of fast-paced guitar (similar to “Search:Party:Animal” by And So I Watch You From Afar”) but keeping some echoing heavy parts similar to Gifts from Enola near the middle. My favorite track on the album comes from “I Am Become Death”, a solemn, yet oddly upbeat, song with a crash symbol-infused ending.

Finally, the last two tracks, which consisted of “The Owner’s Manual to the Universe, Chapter III, Celestial Mapping” and “Practical Applications of the Metaphysical”, were a severe drawback from the rest of the album. The former was a bunch of electronic noise that, although accurate to the title, just seemed like a waste of time and simply just filler. The last track, however, annoyed the shit out of me, something I never have exactly gotten from a instrumental song before. It really would have been an incredible piece if not for that high-pitch whatever that just kept making noise over a really good baseline. And then, when you think it’s all over, and you start jamming to the song again, it comes back, haunting you until the ending. Not the best final impression to leave on the listener.

Rating: This band has a lot of really strong traits that made this album at least listenable. They seemed to be good musicians, and they definitely had some creativity in there, based off of that last track (I applaud it for the attempt, yet knock it for the execution).  However, much of this album didn’t strike me as anything I hadn’t heard before, as shown by the many similarities I drew from other bands. Simply put, when this band is hot, they’re hot. When they’re off the mark, though, it makes you want to shut off the album entirely. If I were to make a suggestion, keep embracing the creativity. Although I seriously didn’t like the “high-pitched whatever” [showing my ignorance towards what instrument that was/music in general], I have to give this band loads of credit for pushing the limits of post-rock, something where many bands today fall short. Their good, quality songs, combined with their potential and creativity, tells me for certain that this band is on its way to making something fantastic. If and when their next album comes out, I will have no second thoughts in reviewing it. But for now, a 3.5/5 shall do.

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Every Silver Lining Has A Cloud- Self-Titled (2011)

Posted: July 29, 2011 by Is This Revolutionary? in Album, Reviews
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This is one of those albums that I found on my computer and have absolutely no idea where it came from. My best friend’s girl likes the band on Facebook, but I think she just liked the name and hasn’t a clue what music they play. Having no background on this band whatsoever, there’s nothing to do than just review.

E.S.L.H.A.C. is a very long name for a band with not a lot of presence. They don’t exactly explode at you with any sort of great force or heavy guitar riffs. The style is actually pretty basic: slow build-ups into a louder ending. I don’t think that they’re looking to blow you away however; S/T  drops electric guitar chords in the middle of somber songs just for accent, and that’s a style that I don’t see a lot of in post-rock today. As for song structure, there isn’t much as far as complexity goes. What they do bring to the table is a unique soundscape, one you can get lost in for quite a while. Maybe it’s because I’m tired, unmedicated and lonely, but I found myself a thousand miles away in my thoughts during “Motionless”, a song with many similarities to “Asa” by Caspian.

Rating: Every Silver Lining Has A Cloud isn’t a bad band by any stretch of the imagination. They’re very talented musicians, and to say that this album is garbage would be massively selling these guys short. What this album really lacks, however, is anything new. The little tricks they pulled out just weren’t enough to single this band out amongst all the others. Overall, an album to just mellow out to and do something productive to. 3/5 kegs.

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Streaming at the bottom of the page

And So I Watch You From Afar are at it again, this time with their latest album, Gangs. What draws many people to post-rock is the calm, soothing soundscapes that 3 guys and a delay pedal can produce, but ASIWYFA snubs it’s nose at that Sigur Rós stereotype and proceeds to shred it up in a way that would make an 80’s metal-head drool. Purely original, purely energy, The Belfast Boys know how to breathe life into a sometimes stagnant genre and give it the energy that it was lacking for so very long.

Gangs had a whole lot of hype to live up to. “Search:Party:Animal” was released some time ago, and the buzz was already being heard about Gangs being one of the top albums of 2011. It had everything their self-titled debut album had: creativity, originality and powerful, screaming guitar riffs. You’ll listen to Gangs and hear exactly that; every track on this album (minus one) contained the same essence that made me fall in love 2 years ago.

The best track on this album is “7 Billion People All Alive At Once”, because they seriously varied up the dynamics during the course of this song: it had a normal pace as compared to the rest of their works, but they brought it between soft and epic so many different times that it truly showed the artistic talent these guys have. In addition, being a hardcore kid, I am always a sucker for crowd vocals, especially in post-rock [you should have seen me swoon when I first heard “Don’t Waste Time Doing Things You Hate”]. When I heard them in this song, I got the same rush of togetherness that I normally get from hardcore, and it was such an incredible feeling. The psudo-title track “Gang (starting never stopping)” had a really familiar melodic structure to “S Is For Salamander” from their Letters EP, but nevertheless was a great track. The real sleeper song here, the one that I overlooked coming into this album, was “Homes – Ghost Parlor KA -6 to…”. It was so unexpected, but yet so needed in this action-packed album; it was slow, delicate and showed that And So I Watch You From Afar is not just a one-trick pony.

Rating: I feel that this album sounded much more like their first and not so much like Letters EP, but all the same, I am in love. I thought it was going to be just a simple re-hashing of previous efforts, just riding on that back and never progressing, but And So I Watch You From Afar proved that they can be harsh, they can be gentle, but they will never be “just another post-rock band”. 4.5/5 kegs.

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P.S.- We did an interview with Rory Friers not too long ago. Check it out: Here