September 21 — “Memorial” by Explosions in the Sky

Explosions in the Sky

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Memorial” by Explosions in the Sky (2003, from the album The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place).

Explosions in the Sky are sometimes called EITS, sometimes Explosions. Whatever you call them, they’re one of the most important bands, if not THE most important band in the post-rock genre. The Austin, Texas quartet formed in 1999 and have released six proper albums since then. Like most bands of their ilk, they vociferously deny that they’re a “post-rock” band. They really would rather we call them a “rock” band. Whether they like the name or not, they’re the poster band for “post-rock”.

They’ve famously been the featured music in both the film and television adaptations of the Buzz Bissinger novel Friday Night Lights. Being from Texas, they really wanted to be a part of the project, and they enthusiastically jumped on board when they were asked to write some music for the film. They wrote new material for the score, and many of their existing songs were used as well. Their song “Fist Breath After Coma” was used as the theme in the opening credits for the teevee show and featured prominently during just about every episode.

Their songs have also been used in beer commercials and briefly as a theme for the Versus Sports Network in their promo ads.

The band was in the middle of a big nasty rumor about the September 11 Terror Attacks. Their album Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Live Forever was released one week before the attacks, and the inside back cover of the album features a painting of a bi-wing airplane with a caption “This Plane Will Crash Tomorrow”. The stupid rumor that got circulated was that the album was released on September 10 (which would have been a Monday) and that it was a warning. It’s just a dumb coincidence. There’s another dumb and unfortunate coincidence concerning the attacks and the release of the Superchunk album Here’s to Shutting Up, but that’s another story for another day.

The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place is often mistakenly referred to as the band’s second album, when it’s actually their third. That’s really only a technicality, though. The first album —How Strange, Innocence (2000) was limited to 300 copies, and was later given a proper release in 2005. Technically, that one is the first record. I think I’ve made loud arguments on both sides of that issue. In the end, though, it doesn’t really matter.

Anyway, your song of the day comes from The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place. This is that song.

“Memorial” by Explosions in the Sky

Like most of their songs, and like most songs by most bands in the genre, there are different parts to the song. Crescendos, decrescendos, moments of dead quiet, moments of deafening volume levels. Lots of changes. Most of the changes are gradual, but my favorite bit of the song comes at 7:25. Just after the end of a long decrescendo, there’s a slight hint that it’s going to get louder and faster. However, there’s nothing gradual about what happens. It goes from naught to sixty in one second. It’s a thunderbolt. It’s a tsunami of sound. It’s a fucking explosion. In the sky. I love it.

That sudden, explosive change is what makes EITS so great. Even listening to their records really loudly is a hell of an experience. Seeing them live is a religious experience. It’s something that I’ve only been able to enjoy one time, and I know that it’ll never be as mind-blowingly awesome again. You can only lose your band virginity once. I really wish that I could lose my Stereolab virginity again, and I wish that I could lose my EITS virginity again, but those have been taken from me.

You can lose your EITS virginity if you’re so inclined, by going to the upcoming Moogfest 2012 in Asheville at the end of October. They’re playing on the 26th as part of the two-day festival. It’s a hipper festival than Hopscotch, but not as big and in my opinion, not as good. And it costs more to get a pass. And way, WAY more to book a hotel. And I don’t think they issue media credentials like Hopscotch does. And not to make excuses, but apart from EITS, the only bands I would be desperate to see are Exitmusic and Bear in Heaven. Also I’m fairly confident that Exitmusic will drop out of that festival the same way that they dropped out of Hopscotch. Aleksa has to do her big-time HBO acting. I get it. The point is, I’m not going to Moogfest.

Whether or not you go to Moogfest, you should absolutely buy every EITS album. Starting with The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place. Unfotunately, it’s not available in the EITS official store, but you can get it from amazon here. Get a digital copy if you must, but do it legally. Whether you already own it or whether you end up buying a copy, you need to play it loud. Really loud.

About dlee

North Carolina born and bred. I'm a restaurant guy who spends free time listening to music, watching hockey and playing Scrabble. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and I will most likely never put it to use. View all posts by dlee

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