I shouldn’t need to introduce Simeon Bartholomew by now but in case you’ve forgotten, he’s a good friend and one of the driving forces behind SEIMS. And if you don’t know who they are then you’ve really not being paying attention and you should go read our Post Rock Post Year in Review. Suffice it here to say that they released FOUR, one of my favorite albums of the year, continuing to delve deeper into the sort of explosive, unbridled, and intensely musical post-rock/jazz-fusion for which we love them. Naturally, seeing we’re good friends and we also love their music, reaching out to Simeon for a guest list was an obvious move.
And, also naturally, it paid off; the list below is phenomenal. It is filled with some great music, from Australia and otherwise, which really speaks to the type of power and energy, but also the delicateness and intricacy, which runs through and below SEIMS’ music. Especially interesting is the top three albums, which feel almost like a cross-section of the band; the heaviness of Thrice, the jazz expressiveness of BADBADNOTGOOD and the uncontainable, nuclear power of The Armed. Throw those in a pot, mix well, and turn up the texture dial to eleven, and you get SEIMS.
Alright, enough gibberish from me. Let’s get to it. Simeon has even been so kind as to create a Spotify playlist for this list, so you can listen while you peruse. What a mencsh.
A shit year for the world. A phenomenal year for music. So much so, that when HBIH approached me to write this list – I was simultaneously honoured and overwhelmed. A lot of my favourite bands put forward their strongest records in 2021, and a lot of new artists emerged with some absolutely stellar debuts.
10. Clayhands – Is This Yes? (delicate post rock)
Highlight track – “Murking”
9. Genghis Tron – Dream Weapon (post mathcore?)
Highlight track – “Great Mother”
8. Delta Sleep – Spring Island (math rock)
Highlight track – “The Softest Touch”
7. Ollie Thorpe – Live at the Golden Retriever (early 00s guitar-driven alternative)
Highlight track – “Contagious”
6. black midi – Cavalcade (uhhh….)
Highlight track – “Dethroned”
5. Adam Znaidi – Pageant Smile (prog jazz)
If Jaga Jazzist and Thundercat had a love-child, this is it. From the ex-bassist of The Physics House Band comes a sonic onslaught from the first second you hit play. It’s gentle and abrasive. The musicality is incredible. The solos are phenomenal. And the soundscape is really quite considered. Brilliant stuff. My only gripe is that it needs to be 20 minutes longer.
Highlight track – listen to the whole thing it’s like 12min long.
4. Liars – The Apple Drop (dark electro rock)
Liars has been an act that I’ve either been hugely in love with, or absolutely disliked. And this is a good thing. Every release they’ve put out is so distinguishable from the rest and I admire the uniqueness of every single piece of output. I was hooked when Sisterworld was released – a dark brooding aggressive rock journey. Then WIXIW came out and blew me away with their synth-dominating soundscape and how gentle the arrangements were that it felt like they’d fall apart at any moment. And Mess was an electronic powerhouse that rubbed me the wrong way (and still does.) The Apple Drop feels like it takes the strengths of these three early albums, melding them together in pure harmony. It’s haunting. It’s dire. It’s uplifting. It’s abrasive. It’s effortlessly effortless. The guitar lines are dank, and the synths glide. Angus’ vocal work is so on point that his unwavering singing and lyrical content add such huge character to the compositions, yet never detract from the music. It’s absolutely brilliant, and there’s so much to uncover on every listen. Bonus treat, Laurence Pike (ex-PVT) is on drums, adding an extra layer of ferocity and intricacy to the sound.
Highlight tracks – “Sekwar”, “Slow and Turn Inward”, “King of the Crooks”
3. Thrice – Horizons / East (post hardcore / punk)
Well this came out of nowhere. I haven’t listened to Thrice since The Alchemy Index, and the only times I now listen to punk music is basically when I’m playing THPS. It takes a lot for me to be obsessed with a punk album (it’s more of a nostalgic genre for me as of late…) and oh my, am I obsessed with this album. Dustin’s vocals have aged gracefully. They’re coarse and warm, and there’s so much body in it. The mix is pristine. And I’m such a sucker for clean guitar tones in heavy sections. There’s a grandiosity to these songs that I can’t quite put my finger on as to why. With every listen, I instinctively go in to dissect what makes these songs sound exactly the way they do, and within the first 30 seconds, that intent falls away and I’m just enjoying the magic of this washing over me. A highly captivating release that harks back to Less Art’s Strangled Light (which, as of 5 minutes ago, I literally just discovered they feature a Thrice member in the lineup.)
Highlight tracks – “The Color of the Sky”, “Northern Lights” (that piano *drool*), “The Dreamer”.
2. BADBADNOTGOOD – Talk Memory (jazz / electronic / neo-classical?)
This isn’t at number 2 because the album starts with a bass solo. In fact, as a bassist, I’m not the biggest fan of bass solos, but goddamn does that solo rip. BBNG have always been incredible songwriters, and their tunes have always naturally jammed, but this album is different. It’s emotionally quite intrinsic, poetic, and… romantic. The sick grooves are still there – but now with Arthur Verocai adding his influence to a few tunes and the lineup focusing on capturing more of their live improv – the shape of this album has transcended to a whole new level. Front to back – this album is flawless. Beyond the trio, the instrumentation flourishes with string arrangements that I’m hugely fascinated by and envious of. Brass textures and flourishes that dominate or float. Bass guitar tones that are so unique and on paper – feel like they shouldn’t work with the rest of the tone scape. Piano and synth-work that knows when to lead and when to support. And I could spend another 500 words admiring Sowinki’s drumwork. If you’ve not listened to this album, please do. Dedicate the hour to this and nothing else. Shut yourself off from the world, close your eyes, wear the best headphones you own, and appreciate the craft and detail that’s gone into this album. I know for a fact this album will influence SEIMS in years to come.
Highlight tracks – “Beside April”, “City of Mirrors”, “Signal from the Noise”.
1. The Armed – Ultrapop (hardcore, punk pop)
Highlight tracks – “ALL FUTURES”, “AN ITERATION”, “BAD SELECTION”.
Honourable mentions to Silk Sonic, Squid, Tangents, John Mayer, Floating Points, and Flying Lotus’ soundtrack to the anime Yasuke.
This playlist includes all the above plus more. I hope you discover your new favourite band from this list.