It’s hard to translate the meme of the Golden Age to post rock because post-rock’s Golden Age has come and gone. During my (Eden’s) end of year review, I’ll be exploring what 2017 has done to the narrative of the Golden Age in depth but suffice it to say, even…
There’s a lot happening in the music world, and we here at Heavy Blog try our very best to keep up with it! Like the vast majority of heavy music fans, our tastes are incredibly vast, with our 3X3s in each Playlist Update typically covering numerous genres and sometimes a different style in each square. While we have occasionally covered non-metal topics in past blog posts, we decided that a dedicated column was warranted in order to more completely recommend all of the music that we have been listening to. Unmetal Monday is a weekly column which covers noteworthy tracks and albums from outside the metal universe, and we encourage you all to share your favorite non-metal picks from the week in the comments. This week, we’ll be highlighting a few albums and tracks that struck our fancy over the past few weeks. Head past the jump to dial down the distortion.
2017. As metal in the Internet Age continues to proliferate, its identity is in constant shift. Ideas about which genres mean what, the role of politics on music, the very fabric of the financial institutions which create the scene, all come into question as the barriers between fan, musician and business man collapse. And yet, despite of what alarmists might say to the contrary, great music is still being made across a wide variety of genres, inside and outside of the metal strata. That’s why these mid year lists are important; they allow us to more carefully consider the lighthouse releases thus far released during the year and the trends which they signify. When making this list, we attempted to consider truly stand out albums, which have something interesting to say about their respective genres, the artists themselves and the interplay therein. Thus, your mileage may vary. The idea of this list is not to be definitive or exhaustive. Indeed, such an effort would be inherently doomed to fail. Instead, this list attempts to present a facet into the trends running through our community as they manifest inside the Heavy Blog staff’s “collective taste”. As you read it, consider your own relationship to the insane amount of music and the ways in which you filter it. Perhaps we can offer our own alternative viewpoint.
As I wrote in my review of LA post/math-rock enclave Arms of Tripoli’s recent sophomore album Daughters, I have a particular soft spot for the band not only because they clearly pull influence from so many instrumental and progressive bands that I already love, but also because they were the first band I came to know and love specifically through writing for Heavy Blog back in 2014 for their debut full-length Dream In Tongues. In my mind the band are just about everything that is good about instrumental post-rock without any of the bloat, mediocrity, and tediousness that plagues so much of the genre and its heavier cousins in post-metal. I’ve been following them closely since and eagerly awaited their next release. So when Arms’ bassist Mike Bouvet reached out to me personally about the upcoming release of Daughters, I knew that I wanted to talk to them about a whole bunch of things. Over a few e-mails we discussed their formation, their collaboration and improv-focused writing process, what sets them apart from most post-rock bands out there, and, of course, eggs.
This year charges on and doesn’t appear to show any signs of slowing down. As we near the six month mark (and our own Top 25 of 2017 So Far), it’s becoming apparent that 2017 hits on broader fronts than 2016 did. While the previous year was an amazing year for some very specific genres, there were others that suffered less than stellar performance. With 2017, there’s very little that’s left untouched, with great releases coming from left and right. The list below is a great example of this; it contains post rock, grindcore, jazz, psychedelic electronics, death metal, stoner and oh so much more. Each of these sub-genres have been producing great releases this year, giving 2017 the illusion of a siege. From us, the nominal besieged, a measure of elasticity is required; we must keep our ears open and listen to new places, places we might have abandoned up until now.
For those who missed our last installment, We post biweekly updates covering what the staff at Heavy Blog have been spinning. Given the amount of time we spend on the site telling you about music that does not fall neatly into the confines of conventional “metal,” it should come as no surprise that many of us on staff have pretty eclectic tastes that range far outside of metal and heavy things. We can’t post about all of them at length here, but we can at least let you know what we’re actually listening to. For those that would like to participate as well (and please do) can drop a 3X3 in the comments, which can be made with tapmusic.net through your last.fm account, or create it manually with topsters.net. Also, consider these posts open threads to talk about pretty much anything music-related. We love hearing all of your thoughts on this stuff and love being able to nerd out along with all of you.
If we were to make a word cloud out of all of the post rock reviews and op-eds in the world, how much space do you think the word “drums” would take? While such a word cloud remains an unreachable goal, we’d wager that it wouldn’t take much space at…
Last we wrote about the LA post/math-rock enclave Arms of Tripoli was for their 2014 debut full-length Dream In Tongues, which came to us out of nowhere and quickly became a blog favorite among several of us for its mixture of bright and summery post-rock and shoegaze sounds with some knottier and more math-y elements thrown in to keep things more than interesting. As a brief personal pretext to this, Dream In Tongues was one of the first albums I reviewed for Heavy Blog, was the first album I had given a very positive review of, and it was also quite possibly the first album that myself and now editor-in-chief Eden Kupermintz (both of us were still just mere innocent and not yet completely jaded newbie writers at that point) bonded over, thus forging a friendship and partnership that is responsible for much of what you know of Heavy Blog as today.
Though it may seem like we talked ad naseum about how fucking spectacular 2016 was in terms of new music, the fact remains that we saw more fantastic albums drop than we could seemingly keep up with. But just when we thought our palates were satiated, here comes 2017 with an excellent early roster of release announcements, some we’ve expected for a while and others that came out of nowhere. The following is a surely incomplete list of all the albums worth craving as we ring in the new year. Some of these albums have been fully announced with pre-order links and all that jazz, while others are merely probable assumptions based on various updates on social media. Regardless, these are all phenomenal projects worth looking for in the coming year. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and we encourage you to comment with some albums you’re anticipating so we can share in your excitement.
The goal of these taxonomy posts is not to provide an exhaustive and accurate list or definition of a certain genre or genres. Quite the opposite in fact: attempting to make such a complete list would only replace one stagnated image-object with another, creating an equally irrelevant definition, whether it can be considered currently accurate or not. Therefore, we want to keep some of that fuzz, to leave ends untied and room for further articles and discussion among our readers. We’re not saying that this is going to be a series; these posts take far too much time and energy to commit to something like that. We are saying however that there’s plenty more to discuss, within and without the progressive metal genre and we’ll try and do that when we can.
So, post rock. Post rock is a perfect candidate for such an examination. On the one hand, there’s a very strong and often negative image of what post rock is. Seminal bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, God Is An Astronaut and Explosions In The Sky have enjoyed widespread, cultural popularity, solidifying the image of post rock in the eyes of the public. Pretentious, long-winded, dreamy, beautiful, cinematic, instrumental and rarified are all adjectives which were born from this image. Post rock was, and still is, perceived as a genre for the few, starry eyed and sentimental. Perhaps owing to just how good the afore-mentioned bands really are, their music also overpowered the conceptual space for the genre, leading people to expect certain things from the music that fell under the moniker.