School of Language

After an extended hiatus, the musical lexicon has returned! I’m having cognition issues today (probably due to seasonal affective disorder, bloody blizzards) so I apologize for the lack of witticisms.

Progressive Rock

Ah, the awesomely indulgent genre of Prog Rock, one of the vestiges of the early 70’s (other than streaking and pet rocks). Many listeners and critics view Prog to be synonymous with “pretension”, and they’re not off the mark. It started with noble intentions… to change the disposable feel of common pop rock into artistic statements. The concept album – an LP tied around a theme, story, or sound – found its roots in the progressive movement. Often appropriating from classical music, the disciples of prog often incorporated a more lush, orchestral sound into their tunes. A few examples at the time included the Moody Blues, Frank Zappa, Genesis, Yes, and of course, Pink Floyd. While most Prog came out of the UK, there are a few very notable exceptions.  Miles Davis and his contemporaries could also be considered among the finer progressive musicians, and some neat stuff came out of Brazil (ie. Os Mutantes) and Italy (ie. Banco del Mutuo Soccorso) among other places.

Where did everyone go? There were some indie hipsters here a minute ago. A sweet recent demonstration of prog is School of Language’s Sea from Shore. SoL is side project for David Brewis of Field Music, featuring a few members of The Futureheads (who have a new album coming out in a few days, actually). With guitar work reminiscent of a combination of The Stills’ somber strumming and twee-like jangle but without the Prozac, combined with Brewis’ s occasionally high-pitched warble and a lush layering of noise, Sea from Shore is pretty ensnaring. True to its progressive form, School of Language takes a theme & a sound and run with it; by the end of each song, the mood has been built up and brought down as smooth as waves from the ocean (okay, the water simile was a little corny). Here’s the vid for Rockiest Pt. 1 and one of the best tracks from the album.

School of Language – Extended Holiday


Dubstep originated in the early days of house music, within the UK Garage phase of electronica. Stylistically, the genre borrows elements from dub reggae, but with a considerably darker sound. The focus of the tracks revolves around a stark, drum-machine beat, with accents of synth and (usually haunting) sampled vocals.  This is all pieced together in a minor key (that’s the sad key, for the non-musically inclined). House experts will be able to tell you more about the characteristic beats-per-minute and all that jazz.

Once of the most recent and lauded albums in this field is Untrue by Burial. I’m not going to lie; I’m not really the biggest fan of this album. I can appreciate it as a piece of creative work of music, but it just doesn’t appeal to my taste (similar to my sentiment toward Prince). It’s worth mention though, since it got a fair bit of coverage last year. It’s good to stay informed, I say. Also, I had this entry half-written since late January, and a few of the songs have actually grown on me. And, who doesn’t like an anonymous musician? That’s half the reason that Prozzak got anywhere.  Here’s a sampling:

Burial – Near Dark
Burial – Homeless


Okay, okay, I’ve done this one before. Basically, I loves my shoegaze, and I feel that it’s my responsibility to keep the Ca Va Cool community afoot of the new releases in the genre. So, let’s skip the Oxford Dictionary definition and go right to the common usage. That would be – A Place to Bury Strangers. I was a bit late to pick up this one (it’s been around since August). In my opinion, this is the best recent album in the genre since Serena Maneesh. They did take their liberties with using Jesus & Mary Chain as an influence though; their “I Know I’ll See You” is eerily reminiscent of JAMC’s “In a Hole”.  But, let’s face it, I’d borrow from JAMC if I could play an instrument too. And they haven’t had any riots yet, that’s good!

A Place to Bury Strangers – To Fix the Gash in Your Head
A Place to Bury Strangers – I Know I’ll See You

The Jesus and Mary Chain – In a Hole

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— , March 9, 2008    Comments Off on Indie Rock Lexicon: Progressive Rock, Dubstep, Shoegaze