Without trying to sound like a stuffy boheme, this is my favourite style of music. I will let the trusty/robusty www.allmusic.com define this genre for us:
“Post-rock was the dominant form of experimental rock during the ’90s, a loose movement that drew from greatly varied influences and nearly always combined standard rock instrumentation with results that didn’t rock per se. Post-rock was hypnotic and often droning (especially the guitar-oriented bands), and the brighter-sounding groups were still cool and cerebral — overall, the antithesis of rock’s visceral power.” In fact, post-rock was something of a reaction against rock, particularly the mainstream’s co-opting of alternative rock; much post-rock was united by a sense that rock & roll had lost its capacity for real rebellion, that it would never break away from tired formulas or empty, macho posturing.”
Perfect, I really could not have said it better. Bands like Talk Talk and Slint started this movement, and bands like Sigur Ros, Godspeed You Black Emperor, and Stars of the Lid are keeping it alive and vibrant today. Personally, I think that standard rock and roll in 2008 is not only hilariously cliché but quite sad. It’s still for some people and I don’t refute that, it’s just not for me. I’ve heard those 4 chords played with Les Pauls, Marshalls, and shitty Boss distortion before, thanks. I’ve also heard how much you drink, smoke, and have sex. Congrats, you will die before me, and when you pee brown, it will burn. A lot. You’re living a life that was actually cool 30-40 years ago. I’m all about textures, pleasing/original arrangements, and great melodies, not your 3 hour prep time mohawk nor your flying V’s that you can barely bar chord. Call me a wimp, I like it.
For the past five years, the two bands that I consider the most influential and impactful are Radiohead and Sigur Ros. Anyone who knows me well has heard me ramble so I will save it (especially if you read the put-you-to-sleep blogs I wrote for ThoseSongs.Com).
These two bands epitomize post-rock – they almost always deny the easy routes to get a crowd on their feet or excite a radio station manager, and still manage to write transcendental music that actually means something, is critically acclaimed, and oh yeah… SELLS. They always stick to the motto of less is more and derive so much power from such subtle music. To me this is where the true gift of songwriting comes through – can you impale a listener’s chest with huge and powerful music, but keep your distortion pedal off? Didn’t think so. These two bands are proof that if you write solid original music, (s)he will come.
Radiohead’s video for their new single, “House of Cards” came out today. And guess what – they did it again. Not only have they re-invented themselves after almost every record AND re-invented music sales (ie. pay what you can music downloading), they have also re-invented the music video. No cameras, no lights, just data. I’m gargling right now, they’ve combined my two favourite things – music and science. They’ve used geometric informatics and LIDAR to generate images of various scenes, Thom’s face, etc. Here’s the YouTube video, already at 60,000 plays today. The making of this video is also on YouTube here.