I’m not always the most up-to-date on music these days. There was a time when I knew a lot of the up-and-coming acts, but… well… I’m old okay. Nonetheless, I still like to listen to new and different music sometimes, so I at least try to find new stuff to listen. Of course, sometimes it’s just new to me.
In particular, this seems to be the case with me and post-rock—a nebulously-defined genre that covers or incorporates ambient, drone, shoegaze, hardcore, jazz, etc. I’ve known a few post-rock bands in the past, and known of a number more. Trusted friends make recommendations or drop names in passing, and it’s not always easy to pick up on which bands I should really be checking out.
[The saddest part of all this is that the bands that I will be highlighting are all from my general area (roughly the Windsor-Quebec City corridor). I should have spent far more time at shows.]
And so it is with Toronto’s Do Make Say Think. They’ve been around for over a decade, and I’ve been hearing about them for much of that time, but I never really actually, ya know, listened to them. At least not until a week or two ago. It was about time.
This was the first song of theirs I stumbled upon in my searches, and it instantly got me hooked. I understand that a 12-minute long wander through sonic pastures isn’t for everyone, but they have a nice assortment of songs, so maybe something else will grab you.
This track, for instance, is more on the poppy side.
Never to be outdone by the hated Centre of the Universe, Ottawa has produced some enjoyable post-rock bands, as well. Years ago, I was in a shoegaze band and our frontman kept insisting that we needed to set up a show with a band called For The Mathematics. It never happened, and I never investigated them until they entered my radar again a few years later.
For The Mathematics are more of a post-hardcore band. It’s aggressive—though not angry—employing loud, effected guitars, and
Just because I don’t think they had the success they deserved, here’s another song. It appears most (or all) of the photos are from local club Zaphod Beeblebrox, one of the most consistent provider of quality music in Ottawa for the past few decades. (It was also the site of a Stones video in 2005.)
Suitably Canadian-named, A Northern Chorus provides a softer and gentler side to post-rock with the suitably Canadian-named song Canadian Shield. From Hamilton, this song is a little more traditional in its rock formation. It’s almost verse-chorus-verse. Sure, there’s no real singing in the verse, but it’s there, musically.
Unlike some of the songs here, this song stands out for the presence of lyrics, but you certainly couldn’t say that the lyrics are featured prominently. They’re soft and sweeping, mimicking the very nature of the music. They’re sonic drifts that have settled over top of the music, which is the real natural beauty of the song.
Coming from a similar area, Winter Equinox [they’re from Dundas (which is just outside Hamilton) and Waterloo (which isn’t that far, relatively speaking)] also demonstrates the softer side of post-rock. Their instrumentation varies more than A Northern Chorus (using lots of keyboards, samples and wind instruments) and they have completely shunned vocals, but this another group that can lead you away into another realm.
Only around for two years, Winter Equinox did have a bit of success. This track, Two Eyes, was featured on the TV show Whistler. I came to them when my old band, Design of Cities, played a bill with them. We both had connections to Montreal post-rock/shoegazers Destroyalldreamers*.
I can’t begin to describe how much I love Destroyalldreamers. They helped restore my faith in lyric-less music. It can be so difficult for current music to be able to draw you in without vocals. The good ones truly let their instruments sing, and that’s what Destroyalldreamers do. Listen to this song. Listen to it loud, especially around the 6:00 mark; you need it loud to truly appreciate the blanket of sound they’ve stitched together.
Guitarist Eric Quach seemed to be the prime creative influence behind Destroyalldreamers. Since the end of the band, he has focused on his drone solo-project Thisquietarmy**. I’ve highlighted his work in the past, and continue to love his stuff. He also oversees TQARecords, which has a number of solid drone/ambient/post-rock acts. Including Mains de Givres, which is basically Thisquietarmy with a violin.
Another such act is Shane Whitbread. He’s a friend of a friend who I’ve met a few times, but never actually got around to listening to until recently (to be fair, for the longest time I didn’t even know he played music; he was just a part of the circle of friends).
Shane’s work clearly falls on the “atmospheric” side of post-rock. It’s rather lovely—yet challenging—and far more serene than I was expecting.
Moving back to my hometown of Ottawa, My Dad vs Yours are another local act that I’ve never actually scene, but really should have. They’ve had some sustained success throughout the past few years, developing a bit of following. I believe I’ve presented their video for Happy Wanderer/Carry the Weight before. It’s a good song, but it’s the video that is really striking. It’s a great watch on a Friday morning.
This next song doesn’t have the greatest sound quality, but the video (and added sound effects) seem appropriate for Mindless Diversions. It’s hypnotic and invigorating.
Local photographer (seriously, he’s quite good) Ben Welland adopted the moniker Sadie Hell for his musical endeavour. Originally, it was just Ben, but it grew to include more and more until reaching this:
It seems pretty straightforward, but listen through and Ben’s disdain for typical pop-rock musical structure and arrangement comes through.
Here’s a more stripped-down performance at a local university radio station:
Of course, this post wouldn’t be complete without Montreal’s Godspeed You! Black Emperor. We’ve talked about them recently, so let’s just get to it:
*From my recollection, Winter Equinox was on a bill with them in Southern Ontario, and then managed to scam their way onto more and more parts of their tour, hence the show in Ottawa.
**I do not know what is with the allonewordbandname thing.