Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Long live the post-rock of Final Days Society

June 11, 2011

I’ve been getting heavily into post-rock recently, as Of the Vine, Colin Stetson, Industries of the Blind and Isis have all been in my rotation. Final Days Society is the latest post-rock group to be added to their number, and I may be most obsessed with it.

Y’see, I’m a sucker for crescendo. If you can take a tiny, clean guitar line and turn it into a raging maelstrom in about seven minutes, I’ll love it. This means that Final Days Society has tailor-made several songs for me on their album “Ours Is Not a Caravan of Despair.”

“Aeons” takes only twenty seconds to transfrom an arpeggiated, clean guitar riff into a raging wall of sound, but they spend the next 9+ minutes fleshing that idea out. And by wall of sound, I do mean wall: the Swedes (of course!) in Final Days Society have found the right combination of pedals to produce a humongous overdrive which, when strummed at high velocity, sounds like it’s about to crush the world/transport you to the next one. In fact, “Beauty” is all about showing off this pedal combo, as they just hammer the listener with it for approximately five minutes. It’s a revelation. I felt like I was going to lift off the ground the first time I heard it.

But this band isn’t all about destroying eardrums, as “60” and “To Calm Sea” revel in the moods created without going all aggro, as one of my friends would say. The sparingly-used vocals are employed to great effect on both tracks, using them as instruments. “60” heavily modifies the voice in a completely fitting way, while the vulnerability of “To Calm Sea” enhances the mood of the song.

The 7 songs on “Ours Is Not a Caravan of Despair” clock in at just shy of 56 minutes, meaning each averages 8 minutes in length. This is not a band that shys away from lengthy pieces. And that’s to the listener’s benefit, because any way that you get more Final Days Society is a win.

This band is poised for big things if they can keep it together. They’ve got the sound, the songs and the chops to make it in post-rock. Long live Final Days Society.

Of the Vine makes reverent, moving post-rock

April 11, 2011

Post-rock band Of the Vine‘s self-titled debut album is 25 minutes long. It is broken up into five songs, but the distinctions are relatively meaningless. This is best experienced as one 25-minute opus. And opus it is.

The thing that sets Of the Vine apart from other post-rock bands is their use of real piano. They treat the upright as a vital part of the sound, not just atmosphere. You may say that other post-rock bands have done this, and I would agree. But the weight that members give the ivories in their compositions differentiates.

I do not mean weight in a percentage amount; the piano is not a heavy hitter in several of these songs. But when it appears, there is a feel of awe and reverence surrounding it. It’s not reverence for the instrument itself, but an underlying feeling that compelled the notes. This transfers over to the rest of their composition: The guitar carries the mantle when the keys are not around, and the rhythm section is imbued with a welcome sense of drama. But it stems from the upright.

It’s this reverence that makes the album so incredible. It’s inescapable; whether distorted guitars are hammering away Explosions in the Sky-style or single-note clean guitar melodies are abounding, there is life here. There is something other that comes through.

The band’s name and liner notes point to the fact that they are Christians; I’m one, too. It is refreshing to hear a band that claims the name of Christ make truly excellent music. Most Christian music is garbage, and to hear people combating that is a joy to my soul. Religious or no, I would wager that any fan of post-rock will hear the life that bursts through the tunes.

And they are brilliant tracks, constructed with an ear toward drama and mood. The whole album builds and ebbs, ranging from elegaic piano to a metalcore breakdown (their words, not mine). What’s most incredible? Those two parts I described are back to back in “War.” And it works perfectly.

Of the Vine’s post-rock is some of the most moving music I’ve heard all year; they draw on incredible songwriting skills to make varied and interesting pieces that never miss an opportunity to awe the listener. And it’s most impressive that the compositions are what make the jaw drop, not just hooks. This is great composition. I sure hope that it takes Of the Vine less than four years to craft their next work. You can and should stream it here.

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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