Hello everyone and welcome back to our Post Rock Post spinoff post (dare you to say that one five times in a row), A Collective Nod! In case you don’t remember, I’ll be using this platform to shine a light on an interesting phenomena: musical collectives and especially post rock collectives. These groups, whether created by financial realities or artistic dreams, incorporate several bands into one. Last time, we took a look at the South West Post Rock Collective, a tightly knit group of artists and bands centered around the area of Austin, Texas. This time, we’re flying all the way over the Atlantic, to the United Kingdom, where a more loosely tied group has been operating for a while now.
A Cheery Wave From Stranded Youths, besides having a great name for itself, is quite interesting: it mainly exists in the form of compilations, drawing on external, established gatherings (like Arc-Tangent) as their physical gathering points. As such, the collective has been around for a long time. It’s first volume, basically an album, was released as far back as November 2010. As such, our task in covering this collective is a bit more complicated but we shall not fear! Bravely, we’ll be focusing on several bands from most compilations, shining a spot light not on a specific release but on the growth and evolution of this collective into what it is today. Some of the bands we’ve already written about for the blog, indeed some of them were discovered via these compilations, but if they’re good enough (and they are), we’ll mention them again. Alright? Let’s get started!
We’ll start with a name that some of you might know: Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster. Named after one of the most iconic images of the 20th century, the band set out to create much of the same disturbing yet strangely endearing feelings with their music. Tacoma paddle in the type of post-rock that creates a sense of claustrophobia or imminent dread, as you feel the build up waiting deceptively docile beneath the surface. The live recording which was featured on the very first compilation is a fine example of this: it’s first three minutes are almost completely filled by a calm build up that then ushers in extremely powerful bass/drum combos with screeching feedback. From there, the track careens to many a-place, exploring the themes originally set by its build up.
On the same album we find the math-y and energetic Double Handsome Dragons with their charming “Are we not the future of this nation”. It wastes time with its energy, exploding right from the get go with a political, fiery sample. Its main strength lies in the synths that are overlaid above everything: they’re so blocky as to be nearly indiscernible but they still manage to lend the track a veneer of power that is hard to resist. The track then evolves into a frantic passage that is accentuated by brilliant cymbal work, treble riding high for a few dozen seconds before the ensemble returns to support it with the full fury of the track’s theme unleashed. The synths return for a short bridge, ushering in the final guitar crescendo which will carry us to the end of the track and the return of the radical sample.
Skipping right ahead to Volume 3 (or “3rd Wave” as the collective likes to call its releases), we open with one of my all time favorite post rock track. This is “The Gove Curve” by Rumour Cubes, a band we’ve written about in the past. “The Gove Curve” is an incredibly powerful piece, opening with their staple strings over a deep bass line. The violins set the rainy, dire mood of the track before they are joined by a powerful of post rock crescendo. The strings take on a more aggressive melody, assisted by screeching guitars to create a wall of sound that is a perfect foil for what’s to come. After this, the instruments return to their placid place but are joined by a powerful narration of poetry. In fact, two pieces as the narration is split into two parts. Both parts speak of urban dejection, being lost in that city, of decay and a coming doom. The second one almost soothes the ongoing rhythm of the track, only to end with a taste for more on your tongue.
Another high point of this specific release is the closing track. Talon give us “Impala”, a track constantly tottering on the verge between post and math rock. It’s one minute build up belies it’s second part, where over-driven guitars interact once again with strings. However, the structure soon falls apart as the guitars perform intricate and counterpoint parts to said strings. The drums do their best to keep up, with excellent cymbals and even a blast-beat or two for the tricky fills between passages. Overall, the track is epic and complicated, not adjectives we usually use for post-rock. It’s a good closer to a very strong release, also containing some other favorites of ours like Brontide and Nordic Giants.
Glazing over three terrific releases (seriously, 4, 5 and 6 are amazing) we land on the most recent release, compiled and released on July of 2015. It’s also one of the most varied releases by this collective, which was why it was important for me to shine a light on it. Check out Alright the Captain for example. Their track, “HBT”, is filled with wobbly bass, weird, minor sounding guitar lines and an overall rhythm which stumbles and falls into math/post rock insanity. It reminds me a bit of Dumbsaint in it’s overall vibe as the large cymbals and insidious bass lines lend a dark and oppressive feeling to the whole thing. It’s one of the more out there post-rock tracks I’ve had the pleasure of listening to and, in a genre that often suffers from blandness, a refreshing deviation towards post-metal.
Another highlight of this release is Flies Are Spies From Hell with “Slow Heat Death”. Returning more to the upbeat pastures of classic post-rock, the track never the less manages to combine towering bass and piano to a very pleasing malange, giving the track a playful feel that reminds us of release-mates Vasa (check out their track as well, we love them) or even Adebisi Shank. However, into this light-heart theme are quickly introduced variations: the piano claims its own grounds within the sound, quickly turning into a powerful punctuation to the the accompanying guitars. A middle passage is classic post rock, slowly building up into the outro. The outro itself is insanely convincing however, completely according the piano it’s deserved central role. It’s somber keys set the way for the end of the track, poignant, nostalgic and hopeful, in the best of post rock tradition.
The greatest thing about all of this music? It’s available for Name Your Price! That’s right, you can pay what you for every single one of these compilations. A Cheery Wave From Stranded Youngsters is one of the most interesting and diverse collectives out there: we haven’t even mentioned a small fragment of the different variations of post-rock that they house. Add to that fact that they also sport plenty of math-rock, more electronic works and other side roads and you’ve got yourself an impressive body of work. Here’s to anew release sometimes this year and many more incredible bands enjoying the support and name of this astonishing collective!