Oddly-named yet stunningly talented, Hammock aren’t as known as other modern post-rock outfits, but they come with a sizeable cult following and the patronage of luminaries including Sigur Ròs’s Jonsi.
Their self-released Everything and Nothing (available from this website) is an emotional and dense record inspired by personal struggles and introspection. A powerful entry in their discography, it leads you by the hand through its themes rather than bludgeoning you with them.
One the best releases of the year comes from School Of Seven Bells, but it comes with a tragic story. SVIIB (Vagrant – see the website) contains new material and ideas recorded before their guitarist, Ben Curtis, died of lymphoma, and tells the story of Ben and co-founder Alejandra Deheza, through her survivor’s lens. The two were star-crossed lovers as well as bandmates, and the group kept going even after their relationship ended, only for fate to throw them another curveball. It’s a continuation of their previous, excellently gauzy outings, but with a unique, haunting emotional clout.
Picking up from where 2013’s Nepenthe left off, avant-garde genius Julianna Barwick is back with a new album of sighing vocal loops, soaring vocal lines and pulsing, sparse synthesiser textures. From the perhaps more driving and aggressive textures of Nepenthe, Will (Dead Oceans – visit the website) sees Barwick returning to some of the moods and atmospherics that defined her seminal LP The Magic Place, while carrying through the artistic changes that have occurred since. It’s bold and utterly gorgeous.
Rising from the ashes of influential shoegazers Curve, Dean Garcia’s SPC ECO project has been quietly amassing an enviable discography of brilliant songs for nearly a decade now. Electronic and ethereal, the self-released All We Have Is Now (see this website) showcases why Garcia was and continues to be one of the most talented and consistent composers of the shoegaze, post-rock and noise rock genres. Try All In Your Mind for a sparse and downtempo track that’s rendered utterly arresting by Rose Berlin’s acrobatic and graceful vocal.
San Francisco’s Wander appeared out of nowhere with a video for their track Soar (Other People – see the website), and they seem almost impossibly young given the confidence and drive of their music. Somewhere between the European post-rock sensibilities of mid-career Maybeshewill and cinematic indie rock, their self-released Mourning LP is now getting a vinyl re-release.
Finally, a recommendation to take you off the beaten track. In his guise as lowercase noises, YouTube musician Andy Othling has been quietly creating awe-inspiring post-rock and ambient soundscapes for a few years now. Among his many YouTube series is one entitled Simple Sounds In Simple Places (visit the website), on which he plays tracks out in the wilderness using car batteries to power his gear. Brilliant.