In a world where new genres seemingly pop-up overnight, the term “post-rock” sounds like just another buzz-inducing catch phrase to describe some sort of intangible quality of the music it labels. But post-rock already has a long and illustrious history despite not necessarily having any concrete definition. Stylistically speaking, it can imply many different things, but the consensus among most fans is that it’s a type of music made with rock and roll instruments (guitar, drums, bass, keyboard) but does not adhere to traditional rock conventions and song structures. This is why bands such as Sigur Ros, Explosions in the Sky, and El Ten Eleven can all be labeled post-rock, despite their music sharing little stylistically. With that in mind, today’s playlist will include five of my personal favorite post-rock tracks and I’ll talk a little about why I like them.
1. Explosions in the Sky – “Your Hand In Mine”
Essentially the post-children of post-rock, Explosions in the Sky are probably the most culturally successful post-rock band in America. Appearing in the soundtrack to both the film and tv show “Friday Night Lights,” Explosions in the Sky is probably the easiest band to point to when introducing somebody to post-rock. “Your Hand In Mine” features many of the elements that fans of the genre love. Long and winding arrangement, heavy use of dynamics, snare and cymbal crescendos, delay-soaked guitars that have a tendency to soar to the heights of the atmosphere. This song has it all.
2. Maserati – “The Language”
Today Maserati create krautrock-inspired pseudo dance rock, but their first album The Language of Cities contains perhaps my favorite conventional post-rock song (if there were such a thing). ‘The Language’ takes listeners on a journey. The sparse opening segment of the song provides a bleak backdrop as the track seems to build to a dark place. Suddenly at 4:11, listeners can breathe a sigh of relief from a whimsical guitar theme, but even this yields to heavier things, and by 6:18 as the song descends into its destiny as an all out rock n roll assault. ‘The Language’ perfectly illustrates all the things that make post-rock great to me.
3. Sigur Ros – “Staralfur”
Few bands are as unique as peerless Sigur Ros. Hailing from Iceland, their unique music has influenced countless other artists and yet they seemingly have no discernable influences. ‘Staralfur’ is one of those songs that is immediately beautiful to the listener. With its massive strings and fluttering piano, the track is simply awe-inspiring. There is nothing really more that can be said. This is one of those songs that has literally brought me to tears. Good speakers or headphones are highly recommended for this one.
4. El Ten Eleven – “Indian Winter”
El Ten Eleven blur the line between electronic music and rock with their heavy use of live sampling and looping. With only two people on stage, it’s dizzying to understand how they create so much sound. Seeing them live, watching guitarist/bassist Kristian Dunn hop around his effects pedal board, and drummer Tim Fogarty seamlessly switch between electronic and acoustic drums is a sight few can truly comprehend. Indian Winter is a song the readily showcases this band’s ability to bend minds.
5. Enemies – “Fierce Pit Bosses”
Enemies is one of the newer bands on this list and they’re among the crop of other young post-rock bands that also have math-rock tendencies. However unlike their contemporaries, they eschew traditional math-rock aesthetics, such as angular guitars, rapid time, and tempo shifts in favor of tasteful metric modulation and warm guitar harmonies. Enemies represent a sort of coming of age for post-rock and illustrate the boiled down essence of what the genre is today. If you wanna feel on top of the world, I highly recommend blasting this track in your car on the way to school/work today.