(Post) Rock Isn't Dead
What happened to those post rock rocks bands that had the critics falling on their knees? What of the days were I could walk into a record store and be assured that they were playing the 'doom bass' part in Mogwai's My Father, My King?
The praise, unfortunately, has turned into dismissal or a kind of uncompromising apathy, leaving poor old bands such as Montreal's, Godspeed You Black Emperor! wondering how they can make the whole quiet, build-to-climax dynamic sound new again.
However, all is not lost, because Godspeed labelmates, DoMakeSayThink have maintained post rock's golden glory for all to hear. As Toronto's premier psychedelic instrumentalists, DoMakeSayThink breathe life into a genre that's choking on it's own grandeur.
I won't completely count out my Scottish boys from Mogwai yet though. It's because of them that I was inspired to write about the genre's representatives in Toronto. The other day I was listening to their most recent release, Government Commissions, a compilation of live BBC Peel studio sessions which excelled at capturing the band's intense live sound and I found myself wondering what the other fellas in the post rock fraternity were doing. Immediately, I thought about Godspeed You Black Emperor and how disappointing Yanqui U.X.O. turned out to be for me. I don't know if it was Steve Albini's doing, but it sounded like they were recording in a tin box. Although, I've been told by credible sources that it was, in fact, the band's misdoing whereby they were the ones who botched the final mix, not poor Steven.
Sigur R贸s, Icelandic princes that they were, hadn't released anything since their untitled album, and I began to worry. It troubled me that there hadn't been any relatively recent efforts. Surely, Tortoise would save the day. And they did just that. It's All Around You, while great, lacked any progress in my opinion. It was just standard as per usual for the Chicago group: essentially maintaining the instrumental innovation that they had mastered back in the 90s. On a side note, do yourself a huge favor and pick up TNT, or lest you be without the perfect study/background music.
I was saddened by the feeble attempts of my brain to name a post rock band that had progressed beyond the slowcore noise climax that I had loved so much back in the day. I asked myself: was it me? Was my shortening attention span and growing distaste for bands that felt compelled to name their songs utilizing twenty words or more affecting how I listened to this type of music? Probably. But I ask you: what's wrong with wanting a little more?
Immediately, I realized that the answer was in my very own backyard. The Toronto group known as DoMakeSayThink reminded me that post rock exists because people got tired of the old rock format and wanted to go somewhere else with it. As such, they harnessed inspiration from improv, jazz, orchestral pop, whatever. Complementing the usual melodic guitars, DMST layer elements of jazz, fusion, pop and structure it in a way that sounds fresh on each listen. Not content in merely creating an ambiance that centers on a simple guitar melody, DMST incorporate the staples of post rock with elements that wouldn't normally be found on your standard offering from similar bands. Their last album, Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn not only represents the best of what post rock has to offer, but is also a huge step for the band in terms of its own progress. Highly recommended.
So, after having found solace in my musical mind trap, I took great comfort in my final thought before I headed off to dreamland: perhaps Elvis died for a reason. Either way, I'm anxious to see who goes next. And while I'm hoping it's going to be Nickleback, I'm pessimistic about how their death would alter the rock landscape. Very little, I would imagine.
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