Staff Top 10
Top Ten Postrock Albums

By: Nick Southall

Posted 06/01/2007 - 08:42:02 AM by mrameche:
 A novel idea turned into an incredibly frustrating read. Your obsession with correct 'genre' tags completely overshadows everything else here - why not just talk about the music itself? I can't argue with you on the timelessness of Laughing Stock, though.
Posted 06/01/2007 - 08:50:29 AM by MEKsLP:
 you have Talk Talk there but no "Spiderland" by Slint? Wha?
Posted 06/01/2007 - 09:40:18 AM by patguitar:
 Is that first paragraph for real or a hoax? When did post-rock analysis become post-doctorate fodder? This is the rock we're talking about--let's treat it as such.
Posted 06/01/2007 - 09:54:48 AM by J_R_K_:
 califone are chicago based too. slint/for carnation?
Posted 06/01/2007 - 10:25:00 AM by meatbreak:
 The first paragraph is pretty good...if the article was the top 10 postMODERN bands, which I would consider these to be - and half the bands you mention in the closing paragraph of your intro. I realise you have a disclaimer but that doesn't make it better. I'm a sucker for genrefication, so I could get stuck into this for far too long, but Bjork is in no circumstances post-rock, nor is Aphex Twin, Acoustic Ladyland, !!!, TV on the Radio...

Still, interesting to read.
Posted 06/01/2007 - 11:01:47 AM by center52:
 patguitar, that first paragraph isn't post-doctorate, it's 3rd-year undergrad theory for lit majors. still unnecessary though. other than that, an good read.
Posted 06/01/2007 - 11:02:34 AM by center52:
 or "a" good read, even.
Posted 06/01/2007 - 11:16:50 AM by Garret:
 British people don't like Slint. So I guess I really need to get Technicolour, then? Why is it that the "rock canon" constantly leads me to believe that perfectly good albums are somehow dismissable? Ergh.
Posted 06/01/2007 - 11:39:25 AM by meatbreak:
 Oi, Garret - take that: "British people don't like Slint", back. Was it a question or statement. Either way, untrue as far as I'm concerned. You'll not catch me making sweeping nationalistic staments, oh no. Not even on the Office Vs comments box... Nick, I'm going home right now to listen to Sleep's Dopesmoker as loud as conceivably possible whilst contemplating whether Talk Talk's Laughing Stock might not sound a little fey or twee in comparison. Or even trite.
Posted 06/01/2007 - 11:39:30 AM by Utica5:
 any cannon that considers broken social scene more important than godspeed or tortoise isn't worth the bandwith it's printed on.
Posted 06/01/2007 - 12:25:09 PM by raskolnikov:
 This list, like most lists, is trite and self-limiting. Combine that fault with Mr. Southall's usual flair for smugness and it makes for a deadly read. That's before even mentioning how willfully silly this list is. It is little more than lazily accumulated randomness focussing on some of the lesser-known worthies of the 90s and early aughts. They are pretty much all good records to be sure, but their overall impact on listeners and musicians was smaller compared to the detonations made by landmark releases by bands like Tortoise, Ui, Stereolab, Slint, and June of 44. I'd put the darker, more dubbed-out Roomsound by Califone on a post-rock list ahead of the breezy 70s pop of Quicksand and Cradlesnakes, and it's just plain silly to lump in a band like Battles into this withering genre. They are a new band by the timeline's standards, and though their sensibility may draw some influence from the period of post-rock's ascendancy, they must qualify as something newer and more vital than ten-year old tunage.
Posted 06/01/2007 - 12:54:18 PM by badhaircut:
 Laughing Stock is currently in my shopping cart on, but I've been hesitant to go through with the transaction. Gas prices being what they are, any my credit card bill... but this feels like a sign that I should go through with it.
Posted 06/01/2007 - 01:03:11 PM by draglikepull:
 No Godspeed or Slint? Not even a mention of Do Make Say Think or A Silver Mt. Zion? It's all well and good to try and do something a bit different and unpredictable, but leaving fantastic bands off a list of "best" anything for the sake of novelty is pointless and at least a little bit dishonest.
Posted 06/01/2007 - 01:06:08 PM by draglikepull:
 And really, even bands that skew somewhat indie/emo like the Appleseed Cast or Swords are better representations of post-rock than most of what's listed here. Avant-metal bands like Isis and Mouth of the Architect would also have made far better choices.
Posted 06/01/2007 - 01:19:50 PM by Brooon:
 This is the only bit I read: "If postmodernism is useful, then it’s not as a theory in itself, but as an approach to other theories, perhaps typified by a degree of quasi-existential self-realization, a certain incredulity to meta-narratives"
Posted 06/01/2007 - 02:16:37 PM by allison1:
 radical ideas that threaten institutions become institutions that threaten radical ideas
Posted 06/01/2007 - 02:50:04 PM by barbarian:
 Nick Southall, man, that shit is as deep as the kiddy pool. You really live up to those wide-framed hipster glasses and stupid faces you make. This article is so offensive and pretentious the only arguments worth making against it are ad hominem. You're an idiot and need to stop writing.
Posted 06/01/2007 - 03:17:36 PM by AKMoose:
 "Of course postmodernism is rarely seen in this manner these days, and is more often a misunderstood, abused, and unfairly maligned mismatch of separatist ironies, highbrow conceits, and obfuscatory linguistic tricks designed to scare away the unwary outsider." Just like this arti... this arti... I can't even finish I feel like it's such a clear set-up that I'm going to fly up with my leg in a snare if I complete the joke.
Posted 06/01/2007 - 03:32:44 PM by cwperry:
 I've never thought of Long Fin Killie as post-rock, but I suppose you have a point.
Posted 06/01/2007 - 03:35:10 PM by cwperry:
 God, why must every writer on this site get assassinated? Any thought I ever have of submitting writing to Stylus goes out the window when I realize as soon as I say something I'll be called an idiot. I like reading all the lists on this site, regardless of content. Jesus, it's a good thing you haven't seen my glasses. What does Mr. Southall's glasses have to do with anything?
Posted 06/01/2007 - 03:36:41 PM by cwperry:
 Now the list is "offensive"? Maybe to coddled infants. It's funny when people get mad that a rock article is too scholarly, and then they turn around and say the article is offensive. To quote the last list that pissed every one off, who's zoomin' who?
Posted 06/01/2007 - 03:45:38 PM by ps1000:
 I think that most of these comments here miss Nick's point. As I understand it, he's lamenting the fact that post-rock as a meta-genre had the potential to push us beyond the conventions of rock and roll, but it merely devolved into its own generic trappings. So Nick attempts to reappropriate the idea of post-rock without resorting to what he considers the tired classics (e.g. Slint, Tortoise). I admire Nick's effort, however, we need concepts to write about music, and I don't think it's entirely clear how you can embrace the "spirit" of post-rock without recognizing that categories (i.e. genre) are social, not ideal forms that descend like manna from heaven, and that there is no idea of post-rock without all the lame ass AMG type delineations and all the folks clad in black wanking on a bass.
Posted 06/01/2007 - 07:05:49 PM by Kerguelen:
 Why is everyone ragging on this list? Bands like Tortoise, Slint, and Stereolab aren't on the list for a good reason - they might be talented, they might be influential, but they're still genre bands at best. They do "post-rock" well only in its limited definition, but unfortunately they do not really expand music the way Mouse on Mars or Bark Psychosis do. Hell, I would even add Brian Eno to this list, because he is a personification of what post-rock should be all about. badhaircut: Laughing Stock is incredible, but if you can, try to get Spirit of Eden as well. It's not that you must listen to it first, but they complement each other in ways I can't even begin to understand.
Posted 06/02/2007 - 02:39:10 PM by ofmemphis:
 where is Tortoise..... how about Tristeza?
Posted 06/04/2007 - 12:00:47 AM by boilingboy:
 All good albums, but not the pinnacles of the genre. Your efforts to shed light on underrepresented classics is admirable, but that Top Ten heading gets Stylus writers in trouble every time. They're very rarely ever legitimate top tens....merely the some total of the writers' limited musical knowledge.
Posted 06/04/2007 - 06:07:08 AM by Brooon:
 "They're very rarely ever legitimate top tens....merely the some total of the writers' limited musical knowledge." If you think the writer has 'limited' musical knowledge... perhaps you know every album ever released from back-to-front? I'm sure Nick knows a hell of a lot about music so his top 10 is a decent stab at a 'legitimate' top 10, which is all you can ever ask for. Musical lists are all about that anyway, aren't they? Who would want a definitive, unarguable list? My gripe is that writing is about communicating ideas to the reader, and I'm no idiot but that first line needs reading several times to understand it - and that's going to put people off reading the rest of the article (me, for example). So, perhaps the top 10 he's chosen is in fact terrible, I wouldn't know, I haven't read it, but I've commented twice in this box now instead(!)
Posted 06/04/2007 - 08:34:34 AM by raskolnikov:
 Kerguelen's point is utter nonsense. Southall's pro-Brit tendencies allow him to overrate Talk Talk but omit Tortoise, DMST, Godspeed, Mogwai, etc. The idea that these bands are somehow devalued because they are "genre-specific" ignores the fact that the classification of post-rock is a facile invention by a glib journalist named Simon Reynolds. If a genre is invented by critics, it stands to follow that the bands themselves stand outside such boundaries and can hardly be called genre-specific. But fortunately the world contains fools like Kerguelen who fall into swoons when shitty writers force improper limitations on a form of art that routinely transcends such artificial limitations....con men find victims in all walks of life, I guess....
Posted 06/04/2007 - 08:50:39 AM by Circadian:
 Lads, this is a subjective list, so there's bound to be some disagreements over who deserves to be in the top ten. But I think it's an interesting list, for the simple reason that it posits a sort of alternative list to the usual 'classics', e.g. Tortoise's first three albums (I'd have included at least one of them), Mogwai (good call by Nick; I'd have left all of them out), and Slint's Spiderland (great album; I'm on the fence on this one). Certainly there are many refreshing choices: Battles' Mirrored is too recent a release to say if it can stay the course as a classic, but I agree with Nick about the perfect man-machine mix in the album, and the sheer number of ideas and technical virtuosity makes Battles "stupidly gifted". Also, I personally think that Califone isn't technically a post-rock band -- since when did post-rock sound so intimate without being heavy-handed? Surely, that must be a good thing.
Posted 06/04/2007 - 10:03:49 AM by florenz6:
 re: cw perry - my simple YES for what you said. For weeks, I do have a favourite album that would have become my No. 2 on this list, following the gorgeous "Laughing Stock". It has just been released on Staubgold Records and is called "Jinx", made by the fabulous "Kammerflimmer Kollektief". Being a band that works within a "web of sound" that has been slightly ignored by the "krautrock-scene" in Germany in the Seventies, JINX is an uplifting, yearning music cycle with distant allusions to the lyrical sides of free jazz, the floating moods of old Robert Wyatt-compositions, uplifting melodies and and and.... Mark Hollis would surely love it!
Posted 06/04/2007 - 10:10:01 AM by raskolnikov:
 Of course this list is subjective, as is my contention that Mr. Southall is an annoying writer with lamentable taste in music. A list like this one is more of a polemic anyway.
Posted 06/04/2007 - 10:58:00 AM by boilingboy:
 Yes, writing is about communicating ideas to the reader. But the ideas should be communicated authentically, and not hidden behind sensationalist titles like "Top Ten". All the albums mentioned in this article are worthy...just not top ten. Many of the Stylus witers (Cosmo Lee, Ian Mathers excepted) seem ignorant to much of music history and it's less well-lit corners. More likely, as Raskolnikov said, it's about Stylus writers' shitty taste in music. I love it when an article reflects on music I may have passed over or devalued. But on Stylus, it's usually an attempt to polish a turd like ELO since selections of more substance are beyond them. In the case of this article, I was dissapointed that I was not shown anything I didn't already own.
Posted 06/04/2007 - 11:05:53 AM by florenz6:
 re: boiling boy: Top 10 is not a sensationalist title, you´ll find lists everywhere. And "Laughing Stock" may well be a top 10 of any substantial list speaking of transgressions or masterpieces or post-anything... re: raskolnikov: you behave like an asshole. Just take a break and read Dostojevsky´s 5 big novels, you self-indulgent idiot! No offense intended, let´s facts speaking:)
Posted 06/04/2007 - 11:28:59 AM by florenz6:
 ... and speaking a bit of Nick Southall´s comment on LAUGHING STOCK: he´s so damned right. And he put in fine words what makes him, in a way, speechless when hearing this album!
Posted 06/04/2007 - 11:30:04 AM by boilingboy:
 florenz6: As isusual with defence of writers around here, your comments are short-sighted. Top Ten is normal, even cliched, within music sites. But putting up the title without a serious attempt to live up to it is either disgenuous or incompetent. Again, good list (I've loved Laughing Stock for years)but NOT the ten best.
Posted 06/04/2007 - 11:37:53 AM by florenz6:
 Boiling Boy! You might be a bit more careful with the word "short-sighted". Really!
Posted 06/04/2007 - 11:51:18 AM by boilingboy:
 Yes, really. Why do commenters call out other commenters on their postings? If you disagree, then state your argument. But this is a forum to answer the article, not police the dissenters.
Posted 06/04/2007 - 11:52:44 AM by boilingboy:
 By the way, I'man informed music fan....but a lousy typist.
Posted 06/04/2007 - 12:12:17 PM by florenz6:
 Boil down, buddy! Everything will gonna be fine!
Posted 06/04/2007 - 01:43:43 PM by super_are:
 when it comes to music, i'm increasinly convinced that lists, mission statements, polls, and canons are of use only to shut-in creeps and fattey bloggers.
Posted 06/04/2007 - 02:18:44 PM by Sumptuous:
 Irrelevant question: Aren't Mogwai Scottish, (ie British) as well?
Posted 06/05/2007 - 08:47:51 AM by jmp123:
 I'm a bit surprised the outpouring of derision heaped on this modest little list. I didn't think people still cared about this's heartening, really. I think that the early-to-mid-90s were the last great extended period of time for new music and whether one wants to call it post-rock, postmodern rock or cocksucker blues I'm fine with it. What marks this period is not only the reevaluation of certain structural presuppositions found in popular music but a reasessment of the history of popular music that was desperately needed. As we see the 40th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper's, I remember how vital it once was (and still is) to learn that popular music did not begin and end with the Beatles. Not only did those classic Too Pure albums redefine independent music, they also referenced musicians like Can, Faust, Henry Cow, Robert Wyatt, Lee Scratch Perry, etc. for a new generation to discover. That said: I just wanted to add a few names into the mix: Seefeel (whose 'Quique' was just beautifully reissued), Main (who made it into the original Reynolds article) and the entire Bristol (?-I'm pretty sure that's where they came from) school of Flying Saucer Attack, Third Eye Foundation, Movietone, AMP, etc. Oh and th' mighty, mighty Faith Healers. Okay, I'll shut up now
Posted 06/05/2007 - 02:27:52 PM by boilingboy:
 I'm glad you gave props to the whole early 90s Bristol scene. That's some of my favorite music ever. Foehn and Crescent were great, too. Where is Dave Pierce when you need him? A new FSA album would make my year, but it seems unlikely to happen. Also, the last MAIN album just came out on a French label. MAIN changed the way I hear music, and opened up another world of listening. Now, the subway, the hum of street lights or a factory sounds in the distance have musical resonance for me. Where were any of these fine artists on this list? At least this article has brought some of the music back to consideration. A Top 20 would have been better.
Posted 06/10/2007 - 08:22:42 PM by Fantastic:
 (fart sound.)