By now, you should all know that Post Rock Post is my favorite of Heavy Blog's column so I won't belabor you with words as to why. But this iteration or, rather series of iterations, of PRP, the one that comes around April-May, is my absolute favorite. It's because Spring is here and while people always associate post-rock with Autumn (and I can understand why, with all its melancholy and pensiveness) for me, a listener who likes to focus on the hope and burgeoning joy of the sub-genre, listening to post-rock in Spring is a joy like no other. I feel the emotions that the music stirs in me bursting out and look outside to witness nature doing the same; the sun's gentle touch and the guitars caressing my ears feel like sisters; the bass uplifts me like a gentle breeze blowing off the sea, carrying dandelion seeds with it. In short, I feel fucking alive and post-rock feels fucking alive and everything is music!
You, You’re Awesome (Top Picks)
GoGo Penguin - Everything Is Going To Be OK
When I wrote up this album for our Editors' Picks column, I already knew that I would be writing it up for Post Rock Post as well because, honestly, there was no other choice. It has been ages since a post-rock album has touched me as deeply as Everything Is Going To Be OK has. When I wrote about it previously, I emphasized the journey that GoGo Penguin have undergone from melancholy to joy. But I want to use this space, as befitting its dedication to the gentler, more fragile side of the sub-genre, to highlight the seemingly contradictory intimacy of Everything Is Going To Be OK and the clever ways in which it creates nearness and vulnerable moments amidst its grandiose verve and brightness.
For me, the best example of this is "Friday Film Special" and the almost mundane sort of resignation which it conveys. There's something stolid about the track, not necessarily sad but rather day to day, like a Sunday afternoon spent at home with the family. I think it's mainly the bass and its meandering ways, its rich tone being used to convey the not-necessarily-unpleasant plodding in place or introspection that comes from, well, watching a film on Friday. Interestingly enough, "Soon Comes Night", the track which follows this one, slows things down even further, making that stolid bass take its pace down even slower, creating what is perhaps the darkest track on the album. Contributing to this darker tone are glitches and distortions that conjure Infinity Shred or Amos Roddy's work.
It's really quite marvellous that GoGo Penguin are able to conjure such a broad palette of sounds on this release. Anywhere else and the more contemplative and intimate tracks I referenced above would feel incredibly out of place with tracks like the boisterous opener for this album or the many other, brighter approaches on it. But on Everything Is Going To Be OK, GoGo Penguin prove, yet again, to be masters at the craft of theme, composition, and mood, always congrous with themselves wherever and however they choose to go. Maybe that's why I feel such a deep connection with this album: it's whole, full, well-rounded, like a person; intricate, contradictory, fickle, and beautiful.
widower - alone as a god
Composed of former members of now defunct post-rock band HarborLights, widower is a brand of post-hardcore influenced post-rock that is as full of atmosphere as it is melancholy. Emotion is dripping from every song on their latest release, alone as a god, and it’s a beautiful thing.
Post-rock that consistently has vocals throughout an entire album’s duration still feels like a rare beast to me, and the vocal performance is absolutely what sells this album. They’re soft and tender, almost plaintive in their tone, and they pair perfectly with the tremolo guitars and more atmospheric passages. Pair this with a subtle yet driving drum performance and you’ve got a recipe for some wonderful music.
Especially notable are opener “athena” which perfectly sets the tone of the album with it’s melancholy, almost dirge-like tone and gorgeous instrumentation, and later track “well again” which plays with a mixture of acoustic and electric guitar and frenetic drumming to incredible effect, all the while accompanied by vocals just dripping with sadness as the track leads to a beautiful crescendo. Every track here is a thing of beauty, and for someone like me who craves palpable emotion in their music, this has it in spades.
This isn’t an album that necessarily breaks new ground or experiments much, but the music is incredible and if you’re a fan of the genre I heartily recommend giving it a listen.
The Infinity Ring - Nemesis & Nativity
For our end of year Superlatives list, we often have a category related to the concept of “albums that take you somewhere.” The idea being, certain releases have the tendency to make you feel transported to a specific location, time period, or setting, adding another layer to the listening experience. This can also include allusions to other forms of media. A contender for that this year is the debut full-length from Boston-based post-rock group The Infinity Ring, out now on Profound Lore Records. On Nemesis & Nativity, they bring a unique flair to the genre in the form of occult rock and gothic country. Personally, this influence on top of their cinematic song-structures is reminiscent of something I like to refer to as “True Detective Intro-Music”. If you’re familiar with at least Season 1 of that acclaimed HBO series, you can easily feel yourself amidst the humid bayous and mysterious deserted small towns of Louisiana.
The Infinity Ring began as a passion project of Cameron Moretti, looking to create an experimental take on dark folk music. As more musicians were recruited, the music took on elements of drone and noise, and eventually a more post- sound with elements of spiritualism and mysticism. But beyond the powerfully immersive instrumentation and song-writing, arguably the defining element here are the vocals. Drawing easy comparisons to Nick Cave, the vocalist’s deep, mesmerizing voice augments the ritualistic feeling of Nemesis & Nativity with his calm and hypnotic phrasing. Careful repetition does a lot of work to capture those feelings, such as the steady echo of “inside the lighthouse” in album opener “Crown of Stars.” This vocal style, combined with the trance-inducing, unsettling walls of dissonance are very reminiscent of Swans' more post-rock leaning works in the best way.
Instrumentally the dark folk influences weave in and out with more post-rock structures. The clangy guitar, downtempo drums and violin of “Tiferet II” for instance give a very camp-fire, woodland aesthetic while still capturing what people come to this genre for. The absolute feast of a climax towards the end of “Gift of Life” is easily a standout moment on the album, especially for die-hard post-rock fans. It just nails that apocalyptic sense of foreboding dread popularized by the likes of Godspeed! You Black Emperor or the opening scene of 28 Weeks Later.
For better or worse, this album is a little uneven. The latter half embraces more abrasiveness and heaviness. Some may find themselves only returning to some of the singles I’ve highlighted which fall in the first half, and skipping over the more experimental drone/noise oriented tracks. But on the whole you just have to appreciate the depth and ambition of this release. Yes, I’ve made comparisons to Godspeed and Swans, but rarely do those comparisons come as effectively and effortlessly as The Infinity Ring have managed to do here. The ease at which you can find yourself being lost in Nemesis & Nativity, and letting it take you wherever this complex collection of influences triggers inside your imagination is perhaps its strongest quality.
The Endless Shimmering (Other Notable Releases)
57000 - El Nuevo Atlas
This Argentinian quartet has some of the fuzzed-out qualities that people typically would attribute to shoegaze’s recent influence on post-rock, but as their band photo suggests (all the members staring upward in wonderment), I’d say that “stargaze” would be a more appropriate distinction. There is a slow burn aesthetic on two of this EP’s three tracks, but the vibe isn’t downcast, but rather something perhaps best described as a tranquil-yet-triumphant. That definitely fits with both “Tokio” and “Puerto Almanza,” which may remind listeners of a much less brooding A Film In Color, whereas the middle track, “Euroboy,” displays a more straightforward, mid-tempo thrust. It’s all high-quality stuff from this relatively new band on the scene (their first material emerged in 2021).
Ambia - Sometime
Now this is the exact kind of thing that’s really become my jam over the past couple of years - at once somehow minimalist yet painstakingly layered, quiet yet resounding, gradually gliding from a whisper to an exultant roar. If you were to randomly land on any individual moment you might not find anything that stands out loudly, but taken as a whole each song makes a genuine impact in its own way. Definitely for fans of PRP faves like This Will Destroy You, Years of Rice and Salt, Outlander, and Of The Vine. They don’t really sound like any one of those bands specifically, but once you start listening you’ll hear what I mean. This one’s easily my top pick for the month.
Orsak:Oslo - Irons
I think we’ve officially found the winner of the Most Misleading ‘Debut Full Length” Award, and it goes to this Swedish quartet, who technically just released their first LP, but has in fact released TWELVE EP’s since 2014. So take the terminology with a grain of salt, because these guys are certainly not newbies. And you can tell right off the bat, as their brand of slow-burn, spacey, krautrock-leaning post-rock demonstrates the kind of patience that very few young bands can pull off. Opening track “068 The Swell” is just that, a steady swelling that gets right to the point of bursting before pulling back and allowing the successive track, “079 Dutchman’s Wake (Part I)” to soar, which it does with aplomb. It gets a bit too sleepy for me in its back half, but one person’s difficulty with “sleepy” could become another person’s delight as “druggy.” Putting it simply: if you’re into any of the genre tags mentioned above then you’ll definitely want to give this a spin.
Jettisunn - Finding Peace in Panic
This Michigan duo features double duty from Kev Niemela, who handles both guitars and drums, while Trevor Mills provides the bass. The sound leans metallic with a dash of prog, but ultimately holds the line in post-rock territory. For what seems to be a pretty small, in-house operation (there are no production credits listed, leading me to believe that one or both of the members handled all of that), Finding Peace in Panic sounds great. It’s got a bit of a Cloudkicker vibe, but I believe the drums are live, which makes the whole thing feel all the more tangible. Another quick three-song EP like that of 57000, this is easily digestible and thoroughly satisfying.
One Day We Will Be The Trees - Brink (math-rock, post-rock)
shadowrabbit - familiar feelings ep (math-rock, post-rock, instrumental)