I’ll admit that I hadn’t come across Ohio’s The End Of The Ocean before seeing them play at dunk!USA in Vermont in 2017, but any of my friends recommended them in the lead up to the festival, and sure enough they played one of the more memorable sets of the weekend.
I’m guessing that the key reason that they’d escaped my attention for so long is because they hadn’t released any music since 2012, which would have been when I was fairly new to the genre and still discovering what gems the world of post-rock had to offer.
But now they’ve ended the wait for new music, offering us the cryptically titled third album, -aire.
I could tell straight away that this album was worth my time. Album opener “endure” commences with light pads and piano chords – ok, atmospheric, setting the mood. But then the drums kick in – so punchy – and I could tell that The End Of The Ocean mean business.
They launch straight into the guts of it from there. The triumphant drums lead us through a euphoric movement that I’m tempted to label as a crescendo – but the energy doesn’t peak and die away. I must add that the mixing is fantastic, offering great depth and clarity.
“bravado” sustains the energy of the first track, offering more melodies and fury. It’s direct, relentless, and glimmering with beauty.
The End Of The Ocean really put the ‘rock’ into post-rock. Forget the loud-quiet-loud approach, these guys and girls go more for the loud-loud-LOUD style, simply adding to the music to increase the fullness and density of the sound.
The intensity doesn’t let up much until we reach the fourth track, “self”. It’s a tender song with pleasant guitar strumming that reminds me of Lights & Motion’s “Dream Away“. “homesick” follows suite, keeping the mood down for a bit, before bringing the volume back up where it belongs.
Drummer Wes Jackson is a force to be reckoned with. Not content to simply sit back and set the tempo, he injects driving essential energy into each track. Just listen to the blastbeats in “jubilant”!
Lead single “desire” is an ominious beast. Built around a piano ostinato, with the ever brilliant drums rapping on the rim, this is a powerful track. The best part is that unlike most post-rock music we are accustomed to, they don’t just use guitar crescendos and washy cymbals to build the mood, but instead add dynamic complexity to their playing to help the song grow.
This is post-rock that avoids cliché. Sure, it’s emotional instrumental music, but The End Of The Ocean manage to write great songs that avoid the same played-out tropes that every Explosions In The Sky tribute act. -aire pushes past the boundaries of the genre, offering simply brilliant tunes that reward the listener with energy and excitement. Yes, it’s atmospheric and moody, but this is music that demands your attention, not just tired background filler.
Although -aire starts out stronger than it finishes, it’s a solid album guaranteed to stir emotions and pique interest. Check it out and fall in love with it.
Regular readers will know that I teach toddlers for a living. It’s a lot of fun, drawing pictures, digging in the sandpit, building lego, reading stories, running around, acting silly, and generally doing things that don’t really sound like “work” (although believe me – it’s not easy!)
Trying to create a fun and vibrant feeling environment is an integral part of my job. It’s easier to learn things when we feel comfortable and at ease. I enjoy finding music that can help to elevate or lower the mood of the room, depending on the need. Relaxing ambient music by the likes of Rhian Sheehan or Steve Gibbs can help settle everyone down for the chilled out times of the day. And dance parties that feature Disney tunes from soundtracks like Frozen,Lion King and Moana are daily occurrences. But my favourites are upbeat post-rock and math-rock – fun stuff like Toe, Just Neighbours, Tom’s Story and Dorena.
Filipino quartet tide/edit just got added to that list. I can’t believe that they’ve escaped my attention until now, because this is exactly the kind of music I need in my life.
All My Friends ticks all the boxes: upbeat, energetic and melodic. It’s fun and interesting without feeling too distracting.
I’m sure that any math fans will know the deal: it’s happy, tappy music that makes you feel good and want to move your body. For the longest time I thought that math-rock only featured innaccesable bands like Dillinger Escape Plan or Messhuggah, which put me off. But bands like tide/edit have taught me that exploring different time signatures doesn’t alway make a band hard to listen to, it just means that they’re too talented for their own good.
But seriously, All My Friends is a great record. As the title would suggest, it’s the soundtrack to friendship and playfullness. We hear light tapping on guitar fretboards, twinkly riffs and busy drumming, all coming together to create wonderful music. “Chronograph” transports us to electronica territory with glitches in the beat. It doesn’t matter if you’re pumped up, or feeling dreamy and vacant, this music just makes you feel good about life.
Now I know that I cover a lot of instrumental music on this site, but I must disclose that the track “White Flag” contains (cover your ears, children)… vocals! Singing? How dare they? But jokes aside, Dee Cruz’s vocal addition makes for a lovely relaxing song.
It is the start of summer here in New Zealand, which means time spent with friends, cooking on barbeques, hanging out at beaches and rivers, and making time to enjoy what life has to offer. I dare say tide/edit’s carefree tunes from All My Friends will make worthy additions to the soundtrack.
It’s instantly clear that Florida act Europa have paid plenty of time and attention to the production of new record Small Steps. Their music, comprised of many complex layers and glitches, travels along wildly erratic paths, despite being easy to listen to. Think along the lines of Circa Survive and Coheed & Cambria crossed with Postal Service.
If I had to pigeon-hole them, I’d lump them in with prog-rock. The songs take wild twists and turns, switching time signatures, veering off onto new tangents, and throwing all kinds of effects at you. And they have a 14 minutes song, which counts as an automatic entry into the genre by virtue of its length alone.
Turns out this was a deliberate move. Cory Worsley shares: “The prevailing theme for use when writing this record was progress. Progress musically, personally and in the world as a whole. It can be easy to look around the world and feel perplexed as to the state we’re living in but this album was a way for us to remind ourselves to take steps in the right directions and that each and every step is important. We have to start near if we’re to go far.”
Europa cover a lot of the spectrum. Take “Lag” for example. Sublime acoustic guitar switches to frenzied tapping and choppy keyboards. And that’s only in the space of a minute. Some songs feel like lullabies, whereas others are fully fledged rippers. And, just when you think you’ve heard all they throw something new at you. The title track is a wonderful piano piece, a peaceful closer that gently lowers you back down to earth after taking you on an interstellar ride.
The vocals are an instrument in their own right. The fuzzy auto-tuned warble is a throwback to Postal Service. Those auto-tuned parts are real ear-worms, with the softly cooed lines like ‘settle down’ or ‘let go’ burying themselves deep into your psyche so that you’ll catch yourself humming along for days. Tracks like “Paths” and “Criminals” have throatier singing, with more aggression, and the intensity increases when we hear anguished screams in “Redesign”. Kristen Peluso guests on a handful of tracks too, which was a great move, because she has a wonderful voice that serves to add more to the variety of timbres.
Small Steps is an ambitious venture. It almost ventures into rock-opera or musical territory, due to the expansive sound, interludes and reprisals. This begins to make sense when you look through a recent playlist Santiago Mesa put together for Alt Dialogue and see that he’s been listening to the Hamilton musical a lot. Or maybe I’m drawing false conclusions… Who knows? But it’s an epic sounding album with some structural similarities to musicals.
Themes and motifs threaded throughout the album give a cohesive and well thought-out feel, which is refreshing in this current day of singles. More and more acts are resorting to pushing out EP’s and singles to cater to people’s short attention spans [This is an interesting discussion in itself. With the nature of streaming, it pays to have singles featured on playlists, but at the same time, albums gain more streams than EPs. But I would suggest that frequent, shorter releases are becoming more commonplace than long albums]. So it feels like a powerful and deliberate statement when a band releases an hour-long album.
It’s good enough that nobody would believe it’s a debut release. Debut full-length, yes, but they already have a few EP’s under their belts. The production is clearly of standard that comes from plenty of time spent tweaking and playing in the the studio.
I imagine that Europa are extremely proud of this release. It’s a solid album, showcasing a wide breadth of talent.
Last year I invented an award for Adam Page, who deserved some praise for his work. Being an arbitrary award, I didn’t have set selection criteria or anything of the sort, I just think Page is awesome, and contributes a lot to the music scene.
So this year the choice seemed fairly obvious to me. And it is somewhat ironic that this recipient isn’t even a musician, but there’s no denying that he has contributed hugely to his music scene on an international scale.
I first came across David Zeidler through his writing. At the time he wrote for Echoes & Dust. Later on his was a key figure running Arctic Drones (the best post-rock site out there – give those guys some love!). And now he contributes to Heavy Blog Is Heavy.
Funnily enough, is roots aren’t in music, but horror films. He cut his teeth writing for horror zine Fangoria, and organising cult horror film screenings in New England cinemas. Over the years he transitioned to post-rock music, using the skills he’d aquired through his writing and by running events.
Not long after he asked me to suggest some good local bands. He was working with CJ Blessum of A Thousand Arms [and Ranges, and also former WNF writer] to put out Open Language, an international post-rock compilation, and wanted to find acts from all over the globe so that they’d have a wide selection of music to showcase. A Thousand Arms now have six compilations out, which have helped countless music fans discover new bands from around the world.
Not happy to settle with the work he’d done already, Zeidler formed a few Facebook groups to cultivate an online community. One in particular is great initiative and an invaluable resource for all the creative figures in the game, who can reach out to find others for recording, touring, design, reviews, . It is common to see something along the lines of “Hey, my band x is trying to put a tour together in this region around these dates.”, with many others replying to help piece the tour together.
Now it’s one thing to organise and promote a few local shows, or even provide a platform for others to do it themselves, but Zeidler decided to jump in the deep end and organise a music festival with an international line-up.
Inspired by a trip to dunk!fest in Belgium, Zeidler decided that America needed something equivalent. He began working on putting on dunk!USA in his hometown of Burlington, featuring a stellar line-up from America, as well as a few international acts. He already had a full-time job, plus his work writing for Arctic Drones, but decided that jumping in the deep end and taking the workload of organising a festival of this size with within his capabilities.
dunk!USA wasn’t a total success in a financial sense, but it provided a springboard for launching this year’s post. Festival in Indiana, and paved the way for possible future dunk!USA events. It was well run, felt professional, and brought many bands from the American scene together.
I personally had a great time at the event. I’d been on tour with the band Ranges, working as a roadie/tour blogger, helping with set ups/pack downs and documenting the tour with my writing and photography. The festival was the climax of said tour. I was stoked to finally meet David in person once we’d arrived in Burlington, and we even stayed at his apartment.
The following year Ranges invited me back on tour with them, this time in Europe. But they also invited Zeidler.
I’ll be honest, I felt threatened. I thought I’d already proved myself when touring with Ranges in America. Why did they need another blogger? Arctic Drones has a far greater reach than I’ll ever have, so I was worried I’d be stuck under Zeidler’s shadow.
I needn’t have worried. Zeidler wasn’t trying to steal my job (can I call it a job? It was unpaid. Internship maybe?). We have different focuses anyway – Zeidler writes about foods he ate on tour, whereas I’m more Gonzo styled and write about the crazy character I meet, or shenanigans I get up to.
We shared some quality time together, eating fine European foods. It was nice to have a friend to spend time with who was free when the band was doing soundcheck. We ate fine cheeses and meat in Paris, and went on a crepe date in Lyon.
These days Zeidler is writing for Heavy Blog Is Heavy, and runs PR company Young Epoch – an arm of A Thousand Arms which focuses on promoting bands and running smaller local events. I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes an appearance at dunk!fest in Belgium again next year, or has a part to play in organising another USA festival in the next year or two.
So there you have it: music promoter, festival and show organiser, publicist, and stalward of the international post-rock community – David Zeidler, recipient of the 2019 Will Not Fade Awesomeness Award.
Ah, the obligatory end of year listicle. They’re always fun. I love reading those written by other people, and comparing their thoughts against my own. My own annual summaries are never too comprehensive, but still a nice opportunity for reflection.
Live music in 2018
Caspian at dunk!fest 2018
The best show of the year was Caspian at dunk!festival in Belgium. Hands down. It was incredible. The lights, the music, the sheer intensity was overwhelming. I could barely comprehend it all as it unfolded in front of me. It was obvious that they put a lot of planning into creating a fully immersive experience.
The Ocean at dunk!fest 2018
One of the other headliners, Berlin’s The Ocean were also stand out. I don’t usually listen to heavy music of that ilk, but they’re coming to play a small metal venue in my hometown of Wellington next year, and there is no way I’m passing up the chance to see such an incredible band again.
Like their Japanese peers Guitar Wolf, King Brothers and the Vottones delivered incredible performances, with emphasis on the crazy rock and roll antics. They’ve set the bar high, and I don’t think that I’ll see any act play such a wild or shocking set for a log time
Rhian Sheehan has been a favourite of mine ever since I first heard Stories From Elsewhere. I’d missed his past few shows, so jumped at the chance to see him play this time. It was just as amazing as I’d hoped, with beautiful visuals added to complement the stunning music.
The Talking Heads frontman played one of the most impressive shows I’ve seen. Not only was the music great, but the choreography, lighting and stage management was outstanding – not to mention his extremely talented band who were all mobile for the entire set as well.
I’m surprised at my own favourite releases of 2018. Most of what I listen to falls under the umbrella of rock music, but I’ve found myself branching out and exploring pop, hip-hop, folk etc a lot more this year.
The Adults. – Haja. Jon Toogood was blown away by the wedding band when he got married in Sudan. He recorded some beats with them, recruited some local talent in New Zealand, and came up with this brilliant collaborative album as a result. I didn’t expect a feminist hip-hop album from NZ’s best rock singer, but it became my most listened-to album of the year. Seeing it played live was also a real treat.
Estere with The Aduots at Meow
Amy Shark – Love Monster. What is happening to me? Another favourite album I’ve thrashed this year, and this time it’s pop music! I’ve thrashed Amy Shark’s music so much since discovering her, and had a total blast seeing her live at the Hunter Lounge when she came to Wellington.
Tash Sultana – Flow State. I’m gutted I missed Sultana when she came to Wellington, because this record just oozes with talent. Plodding along with laid back vibes one minute, and melting your face off with guitar shredding the next, Sultana proves her abilities time and time again, playing all the instruments on this ripper of a record.
The Beths – Future Me Hates Me. I discovered The Beths thanks to cartoonist Toby Morris, who designed one of their tour posters. Ironically I missed said tour, but managed to see The Beths play their irresistibly catchy tunes when opening for Bloc Party, and at a Christmas fundraiser in December. They’re blowing up fast, so make sure to see them in intimate settings while you can.
Listener – Being Empty, Being Filled. Listener’s latest album rocks hard. It’s a fascinating concept album which explores the lives of inventors and creators. I was stoked to see them live at Valhalla in Wellington, and Dan and Kris even stayed at my apartment whilst holidaying in New Zealand after their tour.
Winter Dust – Sense By Erosion. Winter Dust immediately cemented themselves as one of my fave post-rock acts with their last EP, so it was awesome to find that their new album is just as good. And album that I had high hopes for, and my expectations were exceeded.
Toe – Our Latest Number. Same old Toe. This EP is exactly what we need from such a talented band. The only problem is that it’s too short. More please!
Thrice – Palms. I’m slightly bitter about Thrice, who postponed an upcoming Australian tour (that I had tickets to) in favour of supporting Bring Me The Horizon on another tour. That said, there’s no denying how great Palms is. Haunting songs that root themselves deep in your mind. I find myself humming their melodies all the time.
Alien Weaponry in Porirua on Waitangi Day
Alien Weaponry – Tū. I know that I announced Alien Weaponry as the next big thing a while ago, but I never anticipated the level of success they’ve achieved in such a short span of time. This year they’ve released their dubut album, toured Europe and America, and are currently on tour supporting Ministry. We can talk about their age, their culture, and an assortment of other topics, but when you boil it down,Tū is a great album full of furious thrash metal and it’s a blast to listen to at loud volume.
Paper Kites – On The Corner Where You Live. A late addition from my favourite folk act. I don’t think I’ve ever covered Paper Kites on this site, but you really should look them up if you aren’t familiar with them. It starts of with a stunning horn piece, which launches into a well crafted album saturated in feeling. A hazy outing perfect for listening to when you need some down time.
I’m also travelling to Sydney in February to see Cog (the same weekend that Thrice were supposed to play before postponing that tour). And I’m excited to attend Download fest in Melbourne in March, featuring heavyweights like Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, Alice In Chains and Slayer.
2018 has been a year of up and downs, like any other year. But if I could pick one moment to encapsulate what I want to remember this year by, it is this:
I had just rejoined my dear friends in the band Ranges. I’d travelled for nearly 40 hours to meet them in Belgium, where I would accompany them on their first European tour. I’d taken the longest commercial flight in the world (Auckland – Doha), and that was just one leg of the journey. As you can imagine, I was exhausted and jet lagged, but full of excitement for seeing my friends and exploring a new continent.
The first show was at Kinky Star in Ghent. Ghent is a wonderful picturesque town with canals, cobblestones, a castle and all sorts of exciting things that you would never see in New Zealand where I live. I’d had a few (strong) Belgium beers, which didn’t help my jet lagged body in the fight against sleep.
Belgian locals Astodan opened. They were awesome. Great guys, great music. Check out their album Ameretat.
Sadly, I didn’t make it through Ranges entire set. But there is one thing stays in my mind when I think back on that show. One of the locals kept shouting “Perfecto!” at the band. It was both hilarious and endearing, the most wholesome heckling ever. The guys from Ranges loved it too.
And that’s what I want to take away from 2018: even when I’m feeling worn out and have to tap out, there is always something small that I can focus on to laugh at and cheer me up.
Perfecto, my friends, perfecto!
p.s. Let me know what you enjoyed reading on Will Not Fade this year! What do you want to see more of? Comment below, or on Twitter or the Facebook page. I’m keen to take on feedback.