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Scott Dolan

Any Post-Rockers in the house?

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I have no idea how I accidentally fell into this sub genre, but I've been on a Post-Rock kick for the past couple of weeks now, and I find it almost as exciting as when I first discovered Alt. Country! My first three albums so far: 

Raise Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven - Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Millions Living Today Will Never Die - Tortoise

Agaetis Byrjun - Sigur Roś

And I keep listening to them over and over again, thoroughly impressed and satisfied with each and every listen. Are there any other must haves that I need to add to my collection next? I also have albums in my iTunes queue from Explosions In The Sky and This Will Destroy You. 

Oh, as a side note I also picked up Homogenic from Björk. How did I avoid her badassery for all these years?! 

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I remember fondly seeing Tortoise a few times when they were touring "Millions Now Living" in 1996. Also on the bill were 5iveStyle (funky, jittery white Meters with John Herndon) and The Sea & Cake. Have seen Tortoise & the Sea & Cake many times since, only saw 5iveStyle a couple times.

What else?

Dianogah were pretty good - saw them a bunch. Two electric basses and a low, jazz-tuned drum kit. Their first LP was probably the best and is not coincidentally the hardest to find now.

Never got into Godspeed -- thought they were more by-the-numbers than the other stuff.

Gastr del Sol were really something in their prime - the first three LPs and the EP "The Harp Factory on Lake Street" are all pretty indispensable in my opinion.

What else was lumped into this genre of sorts?

Aerial M (David Pajo solo dreck), boring...

Ativin had their moments but I think the form had worn itself out by that point.

Scenic were good, more dust-bowl filmic psych if you ask me.

Stereolab got lumped in but other than John McEntire's production techniques, they were pretty much a Neu!/Velvets cover band (and a good one at that). All the young arty college girls were into 'em.

The first three Rachel's records [sic] were cool though seeing them was kind of a bore. Goth kids from Louisville ripping off Michael Nyman and prog but it worked when it did.

The Coctails were pretty interesting with their arch-lounge-jazz vibe. Used to have a couple/few of their records.

The For Carnation were awesome actually, never saw them (they didn't really gig much IIRC) but the two Matador EPs and the LP are all very, very good. Outgrowth of Slint (their LP "Spiderland" started it all and is a certifiable classic), but in a poetic and restrained fashion that was interesting.

Rex I always wanted to like more than I did, but their albums have some really wonderful moments. I'd recommend checking them out. They were terrible live, unfortunately.

June of 44 was a fun band to watch and their first three LPs are good, if dated. Actually the very first one is rad and sounds more like an amalgam of Rodan/Bitch Magnet/Codeine, all great and heavy/arty rock bands from the early 90s (or in the case of BM, late 1980s). 

I'm sure there are more I'm forgetting but it was a time when my hormones were raging, booze was flowing, and I've forgotten more than I'll ever remember.

I don't know if I'd throw Don Caballero into the mix -- more hipster prog -- but the first few albums were cool for what they were. I walked out on the one gig I attended though, which would have been about '97 or '98. Storm&Stress were better.

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Outstanding stuff as usual, Clifford! Many of the names you mentioned have come across my radar. 

The one thing I will say in defense of GY!BE is that there are too many great moments to miss if you dismiss the fact that they sometimes drone on a bit more than the legal limit. 

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a scene/genre I touched base with but never wholly embraced for no real reason. Haven't really listened to much recently but when I do I enjoy it

 I can't top Clifford's list but will give my votes for Tortoise, Godpeed (most definitely, every album's worth your time), Aerial M (I like it more than CA does), Sea & Cake

recently I heard the new Radian album which is well worth a visit.

as for Bjork, well she's just a mighty talent and is her own sub-genre (but not a lot to do with post-rock), truly sui generis. I bought everything in her first few years but I've been less attentive in the last decade or so. If you've not heard Vespertine I urge you to do so as soon as humanly possible.

Sigur Ros, initial impact was greater for me than any lasting interest which explains why I've three albums I've not listened to for a long while. Maybe this will be my prompt to reinvestigate

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I may have to bump Sea & Cake up to next on my list with you and Clifford giving them such an enthusiastic thumbs up. Which album of theirs do you recommend starting with? 

As for Björk, my next two that I want to get from her are Vespertine and Vulnicura. 

Also, I avoiding Sigur Roś for years because of the vocals. But I guess my head was in the right place for them when I bought Agaetis a couple of weekends ago. I took right to it. The sound of Jonsi's bowed electric guitar is truly wonderful.

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"POST-Rock" ... :excited:

How pigeonholish can you get??  :D

What's that supposed to be and what's their common denominator?

Offhand only Björk sounds familiar among the names mentioned but from what I have casually heard she sounded to me like she still occupies one of those many cross-pollinated substyles of rock today (a stylistically wide enough field anyway these days). And some Youtube clips by some of the others named above (Godspeed You etc.) confirm this - at least IMHO. If you want to take a closer look you'd probably even find 70s rock acts who have gone those routes before. Just listened to some "Sea & Cake" on Youtube - out of sheer curiosity. Nice moods conveyed but conventional enough overall to my ears. Where does this warrant such a new label that signals a departure from everything?

I could get some sense out of labels such as "post-bop"  (meaning e.g. that it goes into something more/new beyond the essence of bop/hard bop but still audibly coming from there WITHIN the genre of jazz) but "post-rock"?? After all "rock" is the overriding name of the genre anyway. This is a bit like labeling some new noises out there "post-jazz". (Or is there already such a "style" ?? :D)

Now where do you go when you go "post-rock"? What's beyond that? Or do you fall off the cliff into .. well, into what? "Anything goes", maybe? ;)

Or to put it another way: How many marketing tags do you need and why OTOH do they insist out there to lump in all sorts of stuff with "jazz" even though there isn't even the slightest tenuous stylistic connection with the tree of jazz (including free jazz). How come the music makers all of a sudden seem fit to stand on their own feet with some niche rock that is no longer supposed to be rock but elsewhere they still try to fly under the jazz banner even though the continuity (in in the loosest terms) is long gone? Anyway ... I'd know of enough acts flying under the "jazz" banner today where a label such as "post-jazz" would be much, much more called for. ;)

 

 

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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Wow. Thanks for chiming in with no information concerning a sub genre you're completely unfamiliar with. Your assumptions and conclusions were not insightful or meaningful in any way. 

Lastly, I never said Björk was Post-Rock. Because she's not. 

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Well, enlighten me, then. :D What's the common stylistic denominator that will give those intrigued enough to want to explore this subgenre an offhand indication of where they're heading? (And don't tell me any such genre label must be an "anything goes" label today)
As for familiarization, I DID listen to several clips by a couple of acts on Youtube just to get some overall impressions. Hence my post , although in fact I found some of these (e.g. Sea & Cake) quite attractive in a way.

Helpful or not, I find this subgenre term fairly pretentious in its insinuation of an all-encompassing "breakway" from everything that came before, as if they had managed to fill a stylistic vacuum.
If you listen and explore closely (those who REALLY know all those earlier acts will certainly be able to give you examples) you cannot help but notice in some of these cases that that field's been plowed before. Some of those Godspeed You clips I've listened to, for example, remind me strangely of some of those 70s way out Krautrock recordings from over here, for example. Not all that groundbreakingly new to warrant such a "getting beyond everything else" label  IMO

Just my 2c - like it or not. ;)

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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The groups we're talking about are labeled as Post-Rock. So that's what I refer to them as. 

You can call them anything you wish. Or go outside and shout at the sky over the grievous injustice of the term Post-Rock. 

It isn't as though this is the first genre to have the hyphenated prefix of Post- added to it. Why you take as such a personal affront is beyond me. 

Edited by Scott Dolan

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It's no personal affront. And no injustice. Not at all. :lol:

I just try to figure what meaning this is supposed to convey. Because any such label normally should communicate a meaning (in the sense of a common denominator that immediately comes to mind) to those GETTING INTO that music too, shouldn't it? Everybody knows what they're up against when it says "Heavy Metal" on the bill. "Death Metal", "Speed Metal", whatever ... just finer nuances (or sub-subgenres) to the initiated but all of them flying under the Heavy Metal tag - at least to those getting into the music (just an example, this ... because my son is heavily - literally - into this and is distinguishing all sorts of sub-sub genres, just like us jazzmen distinguish between all sorts of subgenres even within the various styles of jazz and immediately associate specific sounds and contents with most of them). Or to name an example closer to my own stomping grounds of way back, I'd even perfectly understand if, say, Psychobilly were labeled "Post-Rockabilly". In more way than one that's what it was/is.

But "Post-Rock" used in the same sense? A subgenre going PAST the OVERALL genre? Again - where ARE you heading stylewise in that subgenre, then?

Look, to cut it short - of course you can call any subgenre anyway you want, but if it gets that pretentious then don't be surprised if somebody out there calls "Emperor's Clothes" about this MARKETING tag. ;)

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I'm not sure any of those bands are rolling in dough. Nor are they getting any air time on radio. So if it's nothing more than a marketing tool, it's a completely ineffective one. 

Here's the opening description on the Post-Rock Wiki page: 

"Post-rock is a form of experimental rock[1]characterized by the influence and use of instruments commonly associated with rock, but using rhythms and "guitars as facilitators of timbre and textures" not traditionally found in rock. Post-rock bands are often instrumental.[4][5][1]"

 

Edited by Scott Dolan

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Clifford already mentioned it, but Slint's Spiderland is pretty much the source of all this stuff, and in my opinion was never really bettered in the genre.  if you don't know that album Scott, I highly recommend it.  Also, if you're getting into Godspeed, some of the off-shoot projects were pretty cool.  I've not really listened to this kind of stuff much for years, but at one point Godspeed / Silver Mount Zion / Set Fire to Flames were massively important to me.

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@Scott D.:

Thanks for this START of a description/definition. But where do Sea & Cake fit in, then, for example? The exception to the rule? (No coincidence I mentioned them for the third time. The few tunes by them I checked on Youtube I found quite intriguing somehow ... But "post" (beyond) THE major genre of popular music today? Not by a long shot IMO)

And before this starts to run in circles, please allow me one final comment: If this description is what it's all about, then it sounds like a tag used "for want of a better fitting one".  A lot of past acts would have fitted into that category. So that term blurs rather than defines.

Anway ... to each his own ... Enjoy! (sincerely ... ;))

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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2 hours ago, Olie Brice said:

Clifford already mentioned it, but Slint's Spiderland is pretty much the source of all this stuff, and in my opinion was never really bettered in the genre.  if you don't know that album Scott, I highly recommend it.  Also, if you're getting into Godspeed, some of the off-shoot projects were pretty cool.  I've not really listened to this kind of stuff much for years, but at one point Godspeed / Silver Mount Zion / Set Fire to Flames were massively important to me.

YES! Spiderland is also in my queue! I completely forgot to mention that one. 

I checked out some Silver Mt. Zion, or whatever iteration of the name Efrim is using now, and have to admit the vocals turned me off. I do intend to explore it more because I enjoy his musical ideas, but at this point Sigur Roś is the only band that regularly uses vocals that I've enjoyed so far. Though I will admit that I have liked a lot of the things I've heard from Swans. 

2 hours ago, Big Beat Steve said:

@Scott D.:

Thanks for this START of a description/definition. But where do Sea & Cake fit in, then, for example? The exception to the rule? (No coincidence I mentioned them for the third time. The few tunes by them I checked on Youtube I found quite intriguing somehow ... But "post" (beyond) THE major genre of popular music today? Not by a long shot IMO)

And before this starts to run in circles, please allow me one final comment: If this description is what it's all about, then it sounds like a tag used "for want of a better fitting one".  A lot of past acts would have fitted into that category. So that term blurs rather than defines.

Anway ... to each his own ... Enjoy! (sincerely ... ;))

What would you label this? 

 

 

Edited by Scott Dolan

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Slightly tangentially related - but Bonnie Prince Billy (Will Oldham and his various aliases) kind of overlaps with that scene and is wonderful.  'Ease Down the Road' is my favourite of his albums.  And he took the photo that's on the cover of Spiderland.

This thread has just sent me back listening to 'Spiderland' - still a classic! Kind of links Minutemen/Fugazi to the post-rock bands listed above...

Djed is amazing - I wish Tortoise had reached those heights more often

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I agree, it's just a fantastic piece. As good as the rest of the album is, it doesn't reach the heights and scope of Djed. 

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2 hours ago, Scott Dolan said:

As good as the rest of the album is, it doesn't reach the heights and scope of Djed. 

yep, and is still their best album imo

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And it's usually at or near the top of most "best ever" lists. I've found a pretty even split between it and Spiderland for first place. 

The only time neither rank that highly is amongst those who like the New Age-y stuff better. On those lists it's usually an album from God Is An Astronaut. Their stuff is...OK, but seems more like what Smooth Jazz is to traditional Jazz. 

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6 hours ago, Scott Dolan said:

I may have to bump Sea & Cake up to next on my list with you and Clifford giving them such an enthusiastic thumbs up. Which album of theirs do you recommend starting with? 

Nassau or The Fawn. Both are superb. First couple records on either side are excellent too.

Also the term post-rock is really horrible, though I remember it being tossed around when this stuff was coming out over 20 years ago! I just think of it as progressive independent music.

I would be willing to try the first Godspeed record again -- I bought it when it came out and sold it not long after, though it was all right. Heard a couple others that really turned me off, but this was like 17 years ago or something. 

Palace/Bonnie 'Prince' Billy is certainly a tangent to the orbit and one of the great songwriters of the last 20 years. "Ohio River Boat Song" is one of my favorite tunes in any genre.

Almost forgot this one, which is an incredible record by -- as I understood it -- a non-performing band:

Directions in Music by Bundy K. Brown, Doug Scharin and James Warden. 

https://www.discogs.com/Directions-Directions-In-Music/release/178565

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Or simply experimental. I think it's simply a product of its era, honestly. Similar to the big tent of Alt. Country. 

they're simply so far removed from the current popular forms of Rock and Country they seemingly need to be titled in such a way that conveys that. 

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Also the term post-rock is really horrible ... I just think of it as progressive independent music.

Thanks! You beat me to it.

Referring to this return question ...

3 hours ago, Scott Dolan said:

What would you label this? 

 

 

... I was about to post the below when your comment and the answer by Scott D. came up.

 

Who am I to coin a term for a (sub-) genre? ;) Experimental it is for sure. Somehow the overall feel this generates in places reminds me of the music to experimental short films (dating back to the 60s/70s) I saw before (and I can assure you I haven't seen many), and other sounds are reminsicent (at least to me) of some of the German 70s avantgarde jazz we had here, including some of the vocaleseing out to produce sounds where the human voice was put to non-vocal use.

What had me puzzled about this "post-rock" term and its implications of going BEYOND the MAJOR overriding genre of today's popular music (which I doubt it does throughout) is just this:  If you want to coin a term to describe a music genre or sub-genre, then say what it is but NOT what it is not.  See what I mean? ;)

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The best "post-rock" music, including Tortoise, really "rocks." Tortoise is a rock band -- a prog-rock band for sure, and with some strange leanings I guess (much tamer than a lot of Krautrock or Zeuhl however), but they are rock musicians playing songs. Djed is a pretty special piece of music indeed and there's not much else like it, but it's appealing enough to fit within the scope of independent pop and rock music. Don't forget that in 1996 when this was released, the tide in indie rock was moving away (somewhat) from lo-fi pop and sludgy weirdness to music that expressed clarity and optimism as well as an interest in exploring more complex structures. On the one hand you had your Sebadoh and Grifters and Pavement, on the other your Polvo, Tortoise, and Rachel's -- these were very different approaches.

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I went through a phase (almost 20 years ago - yikes!) where I listened to a bunch of this stuff - Tortoise, Stereolab, Labradford, Godspeed, Gastr del Sol, The Sea and Cake, Don Caballero (if you throw them into this bucket), Isotope 217 (which might be more jazz-rock than post-rock...)

In retrospect a lot of it just elicits a shrug from me.  "Djed" is a masterpiece and the Tortoise album TNT is one of my personal favorites, I also enjoy Stereolab, but if I never hear the rest of those bands again that would be no major tragedy.  (Though it also would be no major tragedy if I did hear them again. :) )

If you like post-rock, you should check out the final two Talk Talk albums (SPIRIT OF EDEN, LAUGHING STOCK).  Masterpieces that anticipated elements of the style.  Another pretty good album is Bark Psychosis's HEX.

PS Sigur Ros came around after I moved onto other music, but I've liked what I've heard.

Edited by Guy Berger

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Ah, thanks for bringing up Labradford! They were really cool. 

Yeah, Spirit of Eden is excellent.

There were a few Austin bands that were part of the zeitgeist too: Windsor for the Derby, Stars of the Lid, American Analog Set (more soft indie pop), none of which I've listened to in about 15 years but I remember liking them at the time.

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