Friday, September 25, 2009

Featured Music - Explosions In The Sky

So I still suck at blogging, but I stopped caring a long time ago because I haven't had much to say. All the big news (like new babies) and pics end up getting shared in person or facebook, and I haven't had the time lately to even think about creativity, let alone pursue it. However, I have been meaning to throw a featured music post up on Band Of Horses - I've been digging on them for quite a while... but before I could get around to it, I stumbled upon Explosions In The Sky - and they have pretty much dominated all my musical inclinations since.

*Note: you probably should start one of the songs I link to below now - they're all pretty long. But don't worry, they're worth it. Don't get impatient - you'll miss out. Just crank them up while/if you read this and as you go about your biz. Then, repeat.*

Explosions In The Sky have been around for the better part of a decade - I know I've actually heard them before, just never in-depth. They hail from west Texas, and are absolute masters of their brand of instrumental post-rock. That's right - instrumental. No vocals, no lyrics, but probably more meaning and passion than 98% of the music you'll hear on the radio. And that's the beauty of instrumental music... it definitely means something specific to the creator, but to the listener, that meaning has freedom to evolve. I can tell you that most of my favorite songs from 10 years ago are definitely not my favorite songs now - but only some of that is due to their musical style. It's mostly just that life marches on and things that were relevant to me then are not relevant to me now. But quality music is always relevant. This song from 2003's The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place is already one of my all time favorites - it's called "The Only Moment We Were Alone":

Their songs may be long, but they're certainly lacking the repetitive jam-band quality you would expect at that length. In fact, one of the first things I noticed is the almost classical style of their music. Most of their songs have at least 2 or 3 distinct parts, with an AB format and extensive motifs - or some even seem through-composed. There's never so much repetition that you grow tired of it - they're restrained. They leave you wanting more. This is possible my second favorite of theirs - it's called "First Breath After Coma":

The thing about instrumental music is it often takes more work to appreciate it. I keep getting pieces of these songs stuck in my head, but sometimes I'll have no idea which song it is. Like I said, each one has at least a couple distinct parts, and there are no lyrics for a frame of reference. That's why you have to keep listening. The more you listen, the more you appreciate it. This is a great live version of "The Birth And Death Of The Day" off of their newest album All of A Sudden I Miss Everyone:

The band probably gained their biggest exposure by writing the soundtrack to the movie "Friday Night Lights" back in 2004. This song was on The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place, but was also reprised and adapted for the movie. It's called "Your Hand In Mine":

Their overall sound doesn't vary that much, due to their consistent, guitar driven instrumentation. But it's a good sound. And it's worth noting that all those intertwined melodies and layered guitar solos sound just as fabulous live as recorded. Very tight. This is "Six Days At The Bottom Of The Ocean":

And just to prove they can still rock out, this is "Greet Death" from 2001's Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever:

Finally - just to underscore my point about having to give them more than one listen - I'll bring it full circle to the first song I posted. Here's a simply amazing live version of "The Only Moment We Were Alone":

There you go - Explosions In The Sky. Go buy their albums. Since the songs are long and painstakingly crafted, there's just not that many on an album. And on Amazon music, short albums = cheap albums. For example, I just featured most of The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place because that's the only one I own at the moment; It's about 45 minutes long, has only 5 songs, and cost me $4.95. Best 5 bucks I've spent in a long time.