Quick Review (LP): The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place by Explosions In The Sky

Explosions in the Sky
The Earth Is Not a Cold, Dead Place
Temporary Residence; 2003

My Rating: A- (83/100)

Best Tracks: "First Breath After Coma", "Six Days At The Bottom of the Ocean", "Your Hand In Mine"

You just can’t go wrong with post-rock + disasters at sea.

NOTES

  • "First Breath After Coma" is a serious "WOW" moment. One of the best tracks of the last decade.
  • I recall reading that this is a concept album based on the Kursk submarine disaster. Tragic and brilliant.
  • Sounds like active sonar, guitars pinging all over the place. Active sonar sounds a little more spooky in real life though.
  • Great moment: the meter change in the middle of "Six Days…" So mournful.
  • Come to think of it, track 3 is a brilliant little narrative. Love the way it dies out in the middle, and then picks up with a waltz.
  • On the subject of the Kursk disaster, there’s a very moving film on Netflix by National Geographic about submarine disasters. Part of the story follows a young Russian couple that was very much in love when the husband died in the tragedy. "Your Hand In Mine" reminds me of their story.
  • I can’t call all the songs perfect, but they are so considered and well constructed that bonus points are due.
  • This record is like one seamless and epic song. I love the fact that there are five parts, sort of like the five acts of a great story. One of these days, someone needs to make an otherwise silent, accompanying short film for this album.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (4.5/5)
Consistency (4/5)
Songs (4.5/5)

Quick Review (LP): Those Who Tell the Truth…by Explosions in the Sky

Explosions In The Sky
Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Live Forever
Temporary Residence Limited; 2001

My Rating: B (68/100)

Best Tracks: "Greet Death", "The Moon Is Down"


Standing on the edge…

NOTES

  • Whereas their debut was all about landscapes and the wonder of the open sky, this one is overwhelmingly mortal and full of dread.
  • Opens in a hardcore wash. “Helloooo…..”
  • They are a bit tighter here than on their first effort, but they still haven’t PERFECTED that sound.
  • This is their most punk record, in the sense of it not being afraid to rush headlong into musical mayhem at times. At the very least, that causes this record to stand out for me.
  • Nice sample from The Thin Red Line on "Have You Passed Through This Night?" That rifle shot about scared the ghost out of me.
  • There’s no centerpiece here, and this is not their best effort in terms of coaxing amazing sounds out of their guitars. Still, it is a powerful record at times, and it’s certainly worth exploring.
  • It’s certainly appropriate to call this a fated record, what with the band’s name, the album cover, the liner note ("This plane will crash tomorrow"), the release date just prior to 9/11. It’s funny how many indie rock milestones coincide with that day. Wonder if we are just so sensitive to it that everything seems a coincidence? Still, you gotta admit it’s spooky.
  • Pitchfork really likes this one. And, oh yeah, this has got to be the most record reviewing-est record review I’ve ever read. All the big words = smart dude, right?

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (5/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (3.5/5)
Concept (4.5/5)
Songs (4/5)

Quick Review (LP): How Strange, Innocence by Explosions in the Sky

Explosions in the Sky
How Strange, Innocence
Sad Loud America; 2000

My Rating: A (86/100)

Best Tracks: "A Song For Our Fathers", "Magic Hours", "Look Into The Air", "Remember Me As A Time Of Day"

The humble, 8mm beginnings of the blockbuster post-rock instrumentalists.

  • Although their sound isn’t fully developed yet, "A Song For Our Fathers" shows that they know where they want to go in terms of mood.
  • They don’t sound HUGE  and GLORIOUS yet, but they sound more than competent, and their vision shines through.
  • "Look Into The Air" is gorgeous.
  • If I could rename this record, I might call it "Songs of the Noble Slacker."
  • I really love the elemental nature of this album. From the song titles, obsessed as they are with light, dark, sky, and time, to the music, all percussion and chiming guitar, each of the tracks here is like its own strand of thought, hard rock haiku if you will.
  • Landscape rock hasn’t sounded this good since Another Green World.
  • The first in an unbroken streak of brilliant and beautiful album covers.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (5/5)
Consistency (4.5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (4.5/5)
Songs (4.5/5)

Quick Review (LP): Take Care, Take Care, Take Care by Explosions in the Sky

Explosions In The Sky
Take Care, Take Care, Take Care
Temporary Residence; 2011

My Rating: B+ (77/100)

Best Tracks: “Last Known Surroundings”, “Human Qualities”, “Postcard from 1952”

Six more songs from the six song album guys

– Enjoyable, but I wish it was a little more explosive.
– “Trembling Hands” adds some adrenaline to the mix. Pretty cool.
– I had a hard time distinguishing this from the last one.
– Is it so wrong of the Explosions boys to essentially maintain the same formula each time out? I’d say its refreshing for a group of indie rockers to not strive for endless innovation, especially when the results are otherwise excellent musically. The reliability of their sound may in fact be one of the most appealling things about this quartet.
– Nothing on here is as good as “First Breath After Coma”, but then again that was one of the best tracks of the last decade.
– I like the handclaps on track 1. In fact, I was hoping that around the 3:00 mark the track was going to shift into a groove of some sort. It doesn’t, but that’s OK, I like it well enough anyway.
– That being said, I could do with some grooves as a counterbalance to the start and stop rhythms.
– They’ve added some new textures and are a little less obvious about being dynamic this time around. The album sounds great on a good pair of headphones. I’d say this one’s a grower.
– “Postcard from 1952” is some stately instrumental rock.
– Chris Hrasky’s percussion work explores some uncharted territory.
– Cool album cover.

– As always, I’ll put a big plug out to start with The Rescue, especially since it’s available for free. They started to chart some new territory here, but there’s quite a bit they’ve never followed through on.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (4/5)
Consistency (4/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Songs (4.5/5)

Tracks of the Decade: “First Breath After Coma” by Explosions in the Sky

“First Breath After Coma”
by Explosions in the Sky
from THE EARTH IS NOT A COLD DEAD PLACE (2003)

Instrumental post-rock was nothing new when Explosions in the Sky hit the scene in the last years of the 20th Century. Bands like Tortoise and Tarentel were only two acts in a sea of literary-minded illiterate indies, and Midland, Texas was not the hub of the scene by any means. Yet somehow, through what could perhaps be termed a series of fortunate events, Explosions found themselves the forerunners of the post-rock movement with the release of their third full-length in 2003, especially after they helmed the soundtrack to the masterful film adaption of H.G. Bissiner’s Friday Night Lights. “First Breath After Coma” finds the band at their most anthemic and narrative, building layer upon layer from a steady, chiming guitar into a furious wall of sound. The listener only need close his eyes in order to visualize a slow awakening to consciousness, culminating in a full-on adrenaline surge right around 3:30. And while we may commonly associate the bands’ music with football at this point, the stark and wide-swinging melodicism of the track’s first four minutes evokes artillery shells falling on heroic soldiers rather than pigskins falling into the arms of over-padded high school kids. Musically, the tri-guitar attack leaves nothing to be desired, but it’s Chris Hrasky’s steady beat that martials the song’s elegaic emotion and masterfully choreographs the rhythmic fireworks. All in all, “First Breath After Coma” was a clear indication of the band taking their game to the next level, and to this day it still ranks as their crowning achievement. As the enormous wall of distorted guitar feedback slowly advances over the last minute of the track, you’ll find yourself marvelling at the 9 minute instrumental POP song you’ve just heard. Did they really just pull that off?