Every time I think I have a good handle on who’s who and what’s what in the Atlanta music scene, some band comes along and reminds me that I’m probably only listening to and touching on a fraction of what’s really going on. This week’s epic punch to the membrane comes courtesy of post-rockers, Of the Vine, who last Friday held a record release show at the Drunken Unicorn in celebration of their new self-titled EP.
I wish I had some sort of back story to provide you with but all I know is the band has been around is some form or another since early 2005. In 2006, they released their debut EP, the three-song We Took Our Trembling Hands From Our Ears and Their Cries Were Heard (told you they were post-rock). Somehow they managed to fly under my radar for all of six years, which makes me feel awfully lazy for some reason.
But now that I’ve heard them, I’m going to sing their praises. If you are into the epic swells and dynamic textures of post-rock, of music that aspires to climb and cling to the heavens, you would do well to check these guys out. The most obvious comparison would be to Explosions in the Sky and you can’t deny that the trio shares EITS’s penchant for crafting cinematic songs whose ebbs and flows carry the listener on an emotional journey. It may not be storytelling in the traditional sense with words and concrete actions, but within their elaborate song structures there are definite narrative arcs that lead you along and help invoke a certain symphonic sense of place and movement.
Of the Vine’s music is by turns dramatic, elegant and fragile. But when the moment suits them, they can also turn positively thunderous traversing into more metallic territory with muscular grooves and crushing guitars. Simply put, this band destroys. It’s some of the most beautiful and engaging stuff—local or otherwise—I’ve heard all year. - Moe Castro
Post-rock band Of the Vine‘s self-titled debut album is 25 minutes long. It is broken up into five songs, but the distinctions are relatively meaningless. This is best experienced as one 25-minute opus. And opus it is.
The thing that sets Of the Vine apart from other post-rock bands is their use of real piano. They treat the upright as a vital part of the sound, not just atmosphere. You may say that other post-rock bands have done this, and I would agree. But the weight that members give the ivories in their compositions differentiates.
I do not mean weight in a percentage amount; the piano is not a heavy hitter in several of these songs. But when it appears, there is a feel of awe and reverence surrounding it. It’s not reverence for the instrument itself, but an underlying feeling that compelled the notes. This transfers over to the rest of their composition: The guitar carries the mantle when the keys are not around, and the rhythm section is imbued with a welcome sense of drama. But it stems from the upright.
It’s this reverence that makes the album so incredible. It’s inescapable; whether distorted guitars are hammering away Explosions in the Sky-style or single-note clean guitar melodies are abounding, there is life here.
And they are brilliant tracks, constructed with an ear toward drama and mood. The whole album builds and ebbs, ranging from elegaic piano to a metalcore breakdown (their words, not mine). What’s most incredible? Those two parts I described are back to back in “War.” And it works perfectly.
Of the Vine’s post-rock is some of the most moving music I’ve heard all year; they draw on incredible songwriting skills to make varied and interesting pieces that never miss an opportunity to awe the listener. And it’s most impressive that the compositions are what make the jaw drop, not just hooks. This is great composition. I sure hope that it takes Of the Vine less than four years to craft their next work. - Stephen Carradini
ROCKFREAKS.COM - (Denmark)
From Atlanta, USA, comes Of The Vine's self-titled second release, and (spoiler alert) it's an impressive one at that. But, given how their only other release was "They Took Their Trembling Hands From Their Ears And Their Cries Were Heard" back in 2006 - making this four years in the making, as it was out last year - you may be expecting nothing less.
What distinguishes this band from the myriad of EITS-wannabes out there is, rather simply, their use of piano. Opener "Aegrotat" climaxes with rolling drums and "The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place"-style guitar melodies, but instead of building up to it by looping guitar patterns and/or using effects, they use a piano. The inclusion of a piano in post-rock music is hardly unheard of, but their decision to make it so prominent is actually quite a simple idea - simple yet incredibly charming.
The names Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky are mentioned in the press release, so if name-dropping those two genre legends doesn't excite you then move on; and, at the mention of those two names, any self-respecting post-rock will know exactly what to expect with "Of The Vine". Although loosely following the concept of war, as you may have guessed from the album cover, this album is cinematic in character, almost like the soundtrack to a film epic with a happy ending, rather than unrelenting in the bleak truths of what I can only imagine actual war must be like.
The aforementioned "Aegrotat" leads directly into the incredibly Explosions in the Sky-sounding "Kinderspiel, Pt. 1". Things then - and this is where the war theme is really utilised - take a darker turn. The imagery of sunny skies the opening two tracks induced is replaced by a broken, beaten and hopeless soundscape with "Prelude To War" and "War". However, just as quickly as they brought the mood down they bring it back up in hopeful closer "Star Song" - by using that piano.
From what I can make out, this is their debut full-length album - and it's only twenty-five minutes in length. There's little time wasted and nothing pretentious about what Of The Vine have created here, and for that reason this could be a release that isn't just for those who recognise with the "For The Fans Of" section, but for others who may not normally consider themselves fans of post-rock. Of The Vine will be touring the US this summer and have promised not to take four years to create the next album, so "Of The Vine" should give them something to build upon for what should be the start of a promising career. - Daniel Roe
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