First off, Happy St. Paddy’s Day to our readers around the world, especially those of Irish descent! You are probably not online right now, but we’re not either ~ we’re out there celebrating with you.
We’ve happily noticed an increase in quality post-rock this year, and our seasonal pick reflects this resurgence. The spring blossoms also include prog rock, math rock, folk, jazz and 12-string guitar. We hope you’ll enjoy our sneak peek at the season!
Our cover image is a Sham-Rock cookie (get it?). We found it on a suspicious site, so we’re not sure where it originally came from. But if you want to make similar cookies, just Google them and you’ll find recipes!
Rich’s Pick: The Pirate Ship Quintet ~ Symmetry Is Dead (Denovali, March 29)
Another great post-rock album? This year, we have been blessed. We’ve had a longer than usual wait for this one; after seven years, the band had fallen off our radar. Their self-titled 2007 debut EP is still a classic, but the follow-up went in a different direction, adding screamo and making us think the band was destined for other seas. Not at all. The new album continues to coast on the lovely waves of cellist Sandy Bartai, but in 2019 the band has swapped screamo for lovely wordless vocals, solo and with choir. This gorgeous album corrects the sailing direction and sets a course for seas unknown.
Post-Rock and Related Genres
Seven years is a long time between albums, but it’s been even longer for Unwed Sailor, who return after eleven years, taking up exactly where they left off. Heavy Age is the sound of a band who is happy where they are, older and wiser, no longer trying to impress but simply doing their thing by making melodic music (May 3, pictured right). Languid post-rockers Radare return with Der Endless Dream, inspired by “the confusion of adolescent desires” (which explains the yearbook art). Lead single “Eternal Love” is slow and yearning, and makes one recall the days when a momentary crush turned into thoughts of happy ever after … until the inevitable heartbreak, interrupted only by the next crush (Golden Antenna, March 29). Post-rockers Altas bring the flavors of cumbria to All I Ever Wanted Was, set for release May 29. Lost in Kiev return with the scripted storyline of Persona, which includes spoken word samples written by the band (Pelagic, April 26). Hot on the heels of December’s split EP with Slowbro, Those Amongst Us Are Wolves unleashes the fiery blast of Decode.Delay, tailor-made for the post-rock/post-metal crowd (Damage Limitation Records, April 6). And while we’re not allowed to share specifics just yet, Constellation will be making a major album announcement this Tuesday!
Alternative rockers Kogumaza celebrate their tenth anniversary with a double album of long jams; Fugues is out March 28 on Low Point. This band should not be confused with funky rock trio Kugangendai, who add touches of psychedelica to Palm (Ideologic Organ, April 26). Two extended fuzz sessions fill the grooves of Tia Carrera‘s Visitors/Early Purple. The band offers a friendly reminder that it is not associated with the singer of the very similar name (Small Stone, March 22). Just the Facs, ma’am: straddling numerous rock-based genres, the energetic Lifelike is set for release March 29 on Trouble in Mind Records. Krautrock dominates Wharp & Rom‘s aptly titled Radical American Hippy Kraut, a joint venture (pun intended) from Astro Nautico and JASS Records (March 29).
One really can’t go wrong with a track called Pizza Hawaii. The first single from Ola Englund‘s self-released Master of the Universe, the track hearkens back to the golden age of prog (March 24). It took five albums, but finally The Infinite Three have gone all-instrumental (huzzah!). Ascension Zone is packed with prog and improv, and is out May 3. Members of GOAT and Hills have combined to form Djinn (why not Goathills?). Their self-titled ambient/prog EP is preceded by the video for Le Jardin de la Morte (Rocket Recordings, May 17). You may have never heard of Orsak:Oslo, but after nine EPs the Scandinavian trio is set to release a six-track “best of.” Their best jams can be heard on their self-titled album, due March 29 on Kapitän Platte. Lava and brass make an irresistible combo on Town Portal‘s Of Violence. The Copenhagen band knows how to rock, but allows room for intricacy (April 5). The uncompromising Cognitive Dissonance is even harder. Don’t be fooled by the pretty cover of Orchestra of Constant Distress; this band (including members of Skull Defekts and Brainbombs) is hardcore (Riot Season, April 19).
Math rockers Cuzco bring the glockenspiel to the party on Sketchbook. Pretty sure that sample on Old Dog is from “The Iron Giant” (Refresh Records, April 19). Future Machines kick out the jams on a self-titled math-rock EP whose very titles exude energy with references to Ferraris, arcades and espresso (March 29). And Jouska U.K. presents power punk with a progressive attitude (or vice versa) on the upbeat Relinquo, sold on a pocket-ready USB drive and tailor-made for dancing (March 29). “Rock, folk, country and surf” can all be found on Velvet Desert Music Vol. 1, a new series that Kompakt is billing as an alternative to their Pop Ambient series (March 29).
Drums, drums and more drums!
The Fox Millions Duo reunites on Record Store Day, providing percussive explosions on Biting Through. On vinyl of course (Thrill Jockey, April 13, pictured right)! Famed percussionist Jon Mueller joins Aidan Baker and vocalist Faith Coloccia on the layered See Through, the three musicians merging their disciplines to create a trance-like atmosphere (April 26). Gizeh will then turn its attention to the French quartet astrïd, releasing the first part of a two-part work. A Porthole (I) focuses on “seaweed, waves and the abyss,” while next year’s entry will look to the night sky for inspiration (May 10). Multi-instrumentalist Jarmo Saari invites three percussionists to be Soldiers of Light under the moniker Jarmo Saari Republic. Ritual trance and dance fill first video The Wunderers (Membran, March 29).
Frances Castle returns as The Hardy Tree with a brilliant new project. Stagdale is a graphic novel with a Moog score on flexidisc. We love the historical aspect of Clay Pipe recordings, and Castle’s art is sublime (March 29). Georgia’s brand new Garden Portal label launches with a pair of 6 and 12-string tapes from Joseph Allred. But things are not as simple as they seem. Listening to Nightsongs, one receives a kind, front porch folk inflection. Flip over to Aspirant and one encounters chimes, toy piano, field recordings, harmonium and more, as evident in the mysterious lead track “Chimes and Basement Mass.” Consider this the yin and yang of 6 and 12 string work (March 22). J.R. Bohannon‘s 12-string work is influenced by Iberian and Latin music. The artist’s debut EP Recôncavo is a lovely example of his fingerstyle technique (Phantom Limb, April 26). Transposing folk songs to double bass, Neal Heppleston inspires a whole new appreciation for well-trodden melodies. Folk Songs for Double Bass is what a village inn might sound like if post-rock had been invented a century earlier (Preserved Sound, March 29, pictured right).
Latin flavors also spice Mnemosyne, the debut album from guitarist The Phonometrician. The artist adds cello and light electronics to create an enveloping, otherworldly vibe. The physical edition is a keepsake hardbound book filled with fantastical art, available separately and as part of Lost Tribe Sound’s current subscription package (May 31). New York City guitar duo Elkhorn are set to release a pair of albums on April 12. Sun Cycle (pictured left) and Elk Jam travel far beyond folk, stumbling into the land of psychedelica (Forced Exposure). And Craig Leon returns after 40 years to contribute Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Music Vol. 2: The Canon, continuing his tale of alien visitors along with vocalist Cassell Webb and others (RVNG, May 10).
Talkin’ All That Jazz
Moondog fans, this is your month! Dustin Laurenzi is set to release Snaketime: The Music of Moondog, a celebration of the renowned composer that features a warm 8-piece band (Astral Spirits/Feeding Tube, March 29). International rhythms are melded to jazz structures on Future Flora, a sax-happy album from Black Flower. Think of it as a less electronic cousin of The Comet Is Coming. Hora de Aksum is the first nectar of a fruit-filled banquet (Sdban Ultra, April 12). Also on the jazz tip we find Fazer, whose head-nodding NADI is led by the peaceful single Pop Up (Squama, April 12). Adam Coney (Noon) returns with a guitar-based suite that splits the difference between improvised and composed, led by the video for title track Pavilion (Trestle, May 3).