Tag Archives: Post-Rock

Shoegazing and post-rock: Sad Songs Say So Much

A mate of mine wanted me to put together a playlist of shoegazing and post-rock tunes. I have obliged (actually, I hope he has a Spotify account).

What is shoegazing and post-rock music? Basically, songs that use heavily processed and layered sounds to create a dense, euphoric sound. Shoegazing can be traced to the effects-heavy music of the Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine, through the post-rock layers of Seefeel and Mogwai and on to the contemporary nugaze of Engineers and The School Of Seven Bells.

Some find the music depressing. I find the sadness uplifting; there’s so much more happiness in a minor chord. Here’s the tracklisting and a quick description of each track:

  1. Tracy – Mogwai: Any song that starts with a taped conversation describing a fight by band members is bound to be great
  2. Blown A Wish – My Bloody Valentine: Possibly the best pop song ever written
  3. My Own Strange Path – M83: Intense and cinematic, sounds like the score to the solar system
  4. Face To Face On High Places – School Of Seven Bells: Nugaze shoegaze that sounds a lot like latter-day My Bloody Valentine
  5. Halving The Compas – Helios: Repetitive strains that remind me of the sun rising in the morning
  6. Love Movement (Ulrich Schnauss Remix) – Revtone: Schanuss’ remix is like a slowed-down, cloudy Ibiza anthem
  7. Catch The Breeze – Slowdive: Shoegaze classic that goes epic two minutes from time
  8. Electric Counterpoint (Fast) – Steve Reich: Influential modern classic echoed throughout post-rock
  9. Davyan Cowboy – Boards Of Canada: Nice work, nice sound
  10. Into The Sea – The Album Leaf: Wonderful timing allows the layered sound to build carefully
  11. Plainsong – Seefeel: Years ahead of its time and almost two decades old, unbelievably
  12. Brighter As We Fall – Engineers: Sounds like Slowdive, which is good
  13. Ostinato – Eluvium: Another epic score for searching the solar system
  14. Light Through The Veins – Jon Hopkins: Like a pure dance take on Seefeel
  15. Suckling The Mender – Cocteau Wins: If ‘Blown A Wish’ isn’t the best pop song ever, this is
  16. The Loom – Bark Psychosis: An amazing post-rock first from the most under-rated band ever
  17. Blowin’ Cool – Airiel – A discordant treat
  18. Ba Ba – Sigur Ros: Post-rock music box for a ballet performance
  19. The Music In My Head – Daniel Land & The Painters: More modern-day nugazing; nice
  20. Miniature 9 – Matthew Robert Cooper: Just impossibly sad

Tracklist One: January Sales

What’s on my jukebox? Here’s my ‘January Sales’ tracklist – a lovely blend of post-rock, electronica and shoegaze:

  1. Cradle (Kyte Remix) – The Joy Formidable: Shouty indie pop turned all fuzzy and layered by nu-gazers Kyte. 
  2. Michael A Grammar – Broadcast: Angular pop by Brummie chaps Broadcast. My feet are dancing so much. 
  3. Everything With You – The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart: So infectious, the sound of C86 and shoegaze in a blender. 
  4. My Own Strange Path – M83: French shoegazers go all electronic and produce a futuristic movie score.
  5. Fire Flies And Empty Skies – God Is An Astronaut: Post-rock on a poppy jaunt, via a Jonny Marr-like suspended fourth.
  6. I Know You So Well – Immanu El: Slow and lovely; belting post-rock from your new Scandinavian friends. 
  7. Paint A Rainbow – My Bloody Valentine: Fast, choppy and poppy from the pre-’Isn’t Anything’ Valentines.
  8. Linus And Lucy – Vince Guaraldi: Charlie Brown and the jazzy sound of summer holidays with my little sister.
  9. A Year Without Summer – Epic45: The sad sound of autumn in the grey West Midlands.
  10. Flood Out – Televise: Ex-Slowdive stalwart takes shoegaze to its post-rock coda.

A league table of my top 15 favourite bands

Although a member for a good while longer, I’ve only really been using Last.fm for just over six months. It’s pretty good. I like the way it recommends stuff based on your listening history – I’ve found some new stuff through that, which is nice. The charts that show your favourite bands and tracks are particularly cool. My top 15 most listened to bands of the last six months-or-so is very shoegaze/post rock biased:

  1. Slowdive 
  2. Stars of the Lid
  3. Helios
  4. Sigur Ros
  5. Goldmund
  6. M83
  7. Immanu El
  8. Mahogany
  9. Mogwai
  10. God is an Astronaut
  11. Boards of Canada
  12. My Bloody Valentine
  13. Monster Movie
  14. Styrofoam
  15. Eluvium

Basically, I like stuff that drones. I pretty much know something is going to be my bag when I read words and terms in a review like dischord, processed sound, tape loops, repetition and electronica. Nice.

Psychogeographic rock recalls joys of the West Midlands

Sometimes you miss an article that you later find and think: “Hmmm, this looks tasty”. I’ve just had such an episode, discovering and then reading ‘A sonic postcard from the past’ from The Guardian in early June:

In quiet corners of the British Isles, a strange kind of nostalgic music is prospering. Some of it summons up disused railway tracks and endless childhood summers through guitar drones, samples and field recordings…

…begins the article. They had me at the ‘endless childhood summers through guitar drones’ bit. The article goes on to discuss how a bunch of like-minded artists are making music inspired by concrete precincts and old ordnance survey maps. In other words, the best bits of geography.

The piece refers to a bunch of artists who often hail from the West Midlands and who make music that recalls all the best bits of the last 30-odd years of UK music. Basically we’re talking about my musical bag: Brian Eno’s ambience, shoegazing and 80s indie pop.

I’ve been listening to two of the main protagonists for a while, namely Epic45 and July Skies – both of whom rely on the skills of Anthony Harding. I’ve seen both acts associated with shogazing and post rock, but not Psychogeography – which according to The Guardian: “is the study of the spooky effects of the geographical environment on individuals”.

But whatever the ‘tag’, I like the sentimental mix of geography, guitar drones and the West Midlands.