~An article by Jordan Volz
25 Missed Releases in 2005
After the original publication of the Top 50 List from 2005, several notable releases have surfaced which were not originally part of the list. While I think it's proper to maintain the top 50 list in its entirety for historical purposes, I do now include a short list of albums that are every bit worth the time for an adventurous listener or fan of instrumental music. Hopefully it is of some valuee to those looking for a few new bands to add to their collection.
Always the Runner | An August Golf
Website: Always the Runner
Why I Missed It: 2005 wasn't necessarily the best year to discover new music in Louisiana.
Why You Should Hear it: Even though Always the Runner does its best to disguise itself as an indie-rock band, it'll always be an instrumental band at heart. There's far too much pedal work at play to consider it otherwise. With a dash of acoustic guitars and Southern "twang" added to the mix, An August Gold serves up a well-balanced meal.
Beef Terminal | Anger Do Not Enter
Website: Beef Terminal
Label: Noise Factory Records
Why I Missed It: What were the odds that an artist who goes by the name "Beef Terminal" would make good music?
Why You Should Hear it: Beef Terminal has a long tradition of excellence in the electronic world. Anger Do No Enter combines thick beats with lazy ambience and a whole arsenal of electronic gadetry. The majority of the tracks on the album are slow, lethargic compositions that make this the perfect companion to deep sleep excursions.
Belegost | Belegost
Why I Missed It: Belegost wasn't put on the map for me until early in 2006 when it made waves with its split album alongside The Sea Like Lead.
Why You Should Hear it: This is a must have because Belegost was no less wild in 2005. This is one to test how loud the speaker system can go and wake the neighbors.
Below the Sea | Blame it on the Past
Website: Below the Sea
Label: Where Are My Records
Why I Missed It: This album has become one of my personal favorite albums of 2005, so I really don't know why more people weren't talking about Below the Sea in 2005. I vow not to let another release by this band go unnoticed.
Why You Should Hear it: Jazz, Electronics, and Canadians are a winning combination. Blame it on the Past is one of the more daring releases of the year, right up there with Pivot's Make Me Love You. This trio employs an amazing variety over nine tracks and additionally throws together some of the best songs of the year.
Cue | Bring Back My Love
Label: Thirty Ghosts Records
Why I Missed It: Shortly after the initial publication of the top 50 list an anonymous tip pointed me towards Cue. I've been kicking myself for not getting to it first ever since then.
Why You Should Hear it: Cue is amazing and you can never get enough of it. Not even the cheesy keyboard bits get in the way of this marvelous release. Austin's glamorous post-rock scene just got a little more crowded.
Euphoria | Eternal Gift from the Moment
Label: 123 Records
Why I Missed It: Japan's young instrumental artists are just now beginning to make an impact on Western ears, with or without the help of imports.
Why You Should Hear it: Euphoria could easily pass an an American band. Heavy use of tremolo, ambient guitars, and melodic chord progressions mark Eternal Gift From the Moment's serene sound. Although we keep scratching our heads at the titles of these Japanese releases, we're certainly finding a lot more to enjoy with the music itself.
Fifths of Seven | Spry From Bitter Anise Folds
Website: Fifths of Seven
Label: Madrona Records
Why I Missed It: I still can't find hardly any information about this artist.
Why You Should Hear it: If you listen to this album enough you start to swear that it's a side-project from the GY!BE clan. While not a direct link from GY!BE, the band does contain the cellist of ASMZ, which is probably good enough for most. Fifths of Seven comes to town with lots of string instruments and little else. Occasionally a piano falls from the sky to accompany a wandering cello or violin, but other than that there's not much comedic relief on Spry From Bitter Anise Folds.
French Teen Idol | French Teen Idol
Website: French Teen Idol
Label: Nishi Records
Why I Missed It: French Teen Idol is one of those super cool artists who is on a net label and believes everyone should download its music for free. Many people turn their nose at these types of label (but have no bones about illegally download all the music they want!). French Teen Idol is here to tell you that netlabels must be taken seriously.
Why You Should Hear it: Since The Album Leaf can't put out a new album every year, this gives French Teen Idol the chance to jump in and claim the title of best solo project for the year. French Teen Idol seems much more interested in the work of artists like God is an Astronaut and 65 Days of Static, which is more than fine by me. If you aren't hooked by the end of the first song, you need to find a new favorite artist.
Heston Rifle | What to Do At Time of Accident
Website: Heston Rifle
Label: Ernest Jenning Record Company
Why I Missed It: Somehow this album made its way into my "2004" folder at the end of the year. It's a really lame explanation, I know, but it's the sad, sad truth.
Why You Should Hear it: Heston Rifle takes the best things from the biggest instrumental bands (Mogwai, Dirty Three, Mono, etc) and give it to the listener in a five minute dose. You'd expect the band would have to cut out some of the magic to make that work, but it doesn't.
Holy Fuck | Holy Fuck
Website: Holy Fuck
Label: Dependent Music
Why I Missed It: I was too busy being in love with Wintersleep's Untitled.
Why You Should Hear it: Holy Fuck makes improvised IDM with homemade instruments and 0 computers. This stuff is too crazy to make up. If this band doesn't have up up and dancing, you better check your pulse.
Immanu El | Killer Whale
Website: Immanu El
Why I Missed It: As Sweden keeps growing musically it becomes more and more difficult to keep up with the ingenious Swedish bands. Everyone should make my job easy and sign onto TenderVersion Recordings.
Why You Should Hear it: If you have to be told that Sweden is responsible for some of the best post-rock in the last few years, then you obviously haven't been doing your homework. In that case allow Killer Whale to be your first assignment.
Klever | In the Name of Peace and Progress
Label: Avant Music
Why I Missed It: The promotion coming out of Russia makes Japan look like MTV.
Why You Should Hear it: Klever has some of the most unorthodox climaxes of the year. Think Mogwai doing their best GY!BE expression. Bands like Klever make me wonder what other kinds of brilliant Russian music we're all missing out on.
Marianas | Summering
Why I Missed It: I have a theory about bands like Montana and Nebraska and other states of that nature that no one actually lives there and it's all a giant government conspiracy. That is, until someone proves to me that real people do live there. This is a Process of Still Life validated Montana's exsistance, and similarly Marianas shows that Nebraska is alive and well with a small pressing of 150 cds. I'm still waiting for someone to claim the Dakotas.
Why You Should Hear it: It's no surprise that Summering was released in the summer and is a perfect soundtrack to those lazy afternoons and late nights sitting on the porch with the stars burning brightly overhead. Throw in some well timed vocal segments and this baby should be selling like hotcakes.
Miaou | Make These Things Alright
Label: Teto Records
Why I Missed It: At the end of 2005 I knew that there had to be more Japanese bands making sweet instrumental music, so I embarked on a journey ini 2006 to find these bands and bring them into the limelight. It dosn't get much better than Miaou's Make These Things Alright.
Why You Should Hear it: This is the compromise between Hammock and Below the Sea, where style and form come together into a coherent whole and live peacefully in the same habitat. Miaou takes the listener to a place where everything really is all right.
Miasma and the Carousel of Headless Horses | Perils
Website: Miasma and the Carousel of Headless Horses
Label: Mimicry Records
Why I Missed It: Although a devout fan of Mimicry Records, I never think of them as being on the instrumental front. So Perils came and went without drawing much attention from myself.
Why You Should Hear it: If you like Mimicry Records, you probably already have a copy of it. If you're not familiar with the label this is a good opportunity to do so.
Milhaven | Bars Closing Down
Label: 12 Rec
Why I Missed It: Germany is the capital of mediocre instrumental music. Fortunately, Milhaven sets out to change all of that.
Why You Should Hear it: The band asks you to "Drink a Pint of Blood a Day," and if that isn't one of the best ways to make friends for the instrumental cause, I don't know what is. Had Bars Closing Down been produced a little bit better, it may have been one of the better releases of the year. I fully expect this band to make a huge splash with its sophomore effort.
New Electric | New Electric
Website: New Electric
Label: The Perpetual Motion Machine
Why I Missed It: For the most part, there's so much music coming out of New York City that it's near impossible to separate the chaff from the treasures. New Electric goes in the treasure pile.
Why You Should Hear it: For people who can't get enough of the blistering instrumental rock ala Shelter Red and Irepress, New Electric gives you the New York spin on it. Short, concise, and powerful, New Electric plays with some real fire.
Pawa Up First | The Scenario
Website: Pawa Up First
Label: Dare to Care Records
Why I Missed It: I've already got a nice streak going of missing Canadian acts, why not extend it a bit more?
Why You Should Hear it: The Scenario is one of the smoothest releases to come out of Canada in a long time. Pawa Up First gets lazy with the listener and kicks back to some groovy, soothing tunes. No motivation is necessary for The Scenario, the band quickly wraps you in its own little world.
Seidenmatt | If You Use this Softward Often, Buy It
Label: Sinnubus Records
Why I Missed It: December releases often get neglected.
Why You Should Hear it: Honey for Petzi has always irked me because I've always wanted it to be a more volatile band but its always remain very restrained. Seidenmatt is more self-indulgent and elects to set off explosive finales. The added bit of force makes all the difference.
Shining | In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster
Label: Rune Grammonfon
Why I Missed It: All year was spent either praising Samuel Jackson Five or criticizing Jaga Jazzist. That didn't leave much room for other bands and Shining was unfortunately left in the dust.
Why You Should Hear it: Pitchfork Media said it was one of the most potent releases of 2005 and even put it in "Best New Music". Unfortunately Pitchfork never laid ears of Easily Misunderstood, but we'll let it slide. Shining focuses on brute force and muscle and shows that with enough effort anything is possible.
Strangers Die Every Day | They Have Already Defeated Us At What We Know Best
Website: Strangers Die Every Day
Why I Missed It: In hiring the infamous Jonathan Brooks as one of my reviewers, he brought the band Strangers Die Every Day to my attention. This band is from his homestate, Colorado, and technically They Have Already Defeated Us... is a "demo," but we like to call it an album.
Why You Should Hear it: Not enough bands are venturing into the chamber rock world these days. Strangers Die Every Day plow into it with a very aggressive demeanor and don't stop to make any apologies. After recently relocating to Portland and joining the This Generation Tapes roster, Strangers Die Everyday look to have some competition from Bright Red Paper.
Tera Melos | Untitled
Website: Tera Melos
Label: Springman Records
Why I Missed It: Untitled was a late release off of Springman Records and wasn't one of the year's more publicized albums. Towards the end of the year I was focused on covering more International acts and this band slipped through the cracks.
Why You Should Hear it: Tera Melos play by nobody's rules except its own. Even then the band generally breaks most of the rules they lay down in the crazy jazz/hardcore hybrid it creats. I can never praise instrumental bands who do their own thing enough, and Tera Melos definitely belongs in this category.
The Jesus Years | ...Are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
Website: The Jesus Years
Why I Missed It: It was difficult enough to keep up with all the UK releases last year. It was inevitable that one or two would be forgotten.
Why You Should Hear it: Even though those aren't the real names of the band members, they still know how to play some smooth instrumental rock. The Jesus Years come from the thinking that instrumental rock doesn't need to be quiet and loud or filled with a million layers of instrumentation. Just takes the guitars and run with it boys.
We're From Japan! | 48 Minutes, 7 Seconds, and Then Open Air
Website: We're From Japan!
Label: Jackpot Records
Why I Missed It: Clearly the band is from Oregon! We're From Japan threw me a curveball and I went down swinging.
Why You Should Hear it:
We're From Japan!
but really from the US.
Just listen to us.
(haiku by Jonathan Carter).
Winter Equinox | Safe and Sound
Website: Winter Equinox
Label: Crony Records
Why I Missed It: Winter Equinox broke up!
Why You Should Hear it: As one of the more promising young Canadian bands, it's a shame to see Winter Equinox call it quits so early in its career. Safe and Soun will serve as a wonderful testament to this band's potential, which was right on the heels of bands like Laura and The Hylozoists.
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