Post-Rocktoberfest: US Post-Rock Still Doesn’t Suck as Much as You’d Think!
There’s a thread on the UK Post-Rock Group’s forum called Newer Bands in the Spirit of Early UK Post-Rock. One of the most interesting facts to have emerged from this discussion is that, today, it’s American bands who most successfully encompass the essence of UKPR. Two such bands have recently released absolutely stunning albums.
Nudge is an ongoing collaboration between Portland musicians Paul Dickow (aka Strategy), Brian Foote (who runs the Audra Glint label) and Honey Owens (a survivor of Jackie-O Motherfucker). These fellows have released a bunch of albums but their new record for Kranky – As Good as Gone – seems to have brought them to a whole new level of prominence. And with good reason – As Good as Gone is an impressively confident resolution of opposing tendencies towards abstraction and song-craft. Folding in elements of glitchy electronica, dub, shoegaze and even the blues, tracks like “Two Hands” and “Aurolac” (which sounds remarkably like Papa Sprain’s “I Got Stop”) are utterly convincing in their effortless eclecticism and stark moodiness.
Philadelphia’s A Sunny Day in Glasgow may have a lighter, bouncier sound but it’s a sound that shares Nudge’s emphasis on digital electronics, sinuous grooves and soaring, atmospheric guitars. On Ashes Grammar, the band explicitly declares a diffidence (with song titles like “Shy” and “Passionate Introverts (Dinosaurs)” ) that is somewhat perplexing given the musical confidence on display. This another beautiful and highly accomplished piece of work.
Over the last few of years, the emergence of bands like Gang Gang Dance and The Dirty Projectors has shown us that there’s a surprising amount of life left in America’s indie rock scene. These two albums suggest that the spirit of UK post-rock is likely to play an important role in the continued development of this welcome trend.