From the reviewer's initial notes made upon first hearing the album:
Quiet + Loud + Quiet + Harmonica = Souvenir's Young America
What a sad, lazy reviewer I am. And, as always, lazy reviewing makes for lazy reading, so if the above equation says it all for you, Godspeed my child. For readers with more moxie, yes, the above equation is exactly why bands hate music critics
because they write like assholes.
This promo has been in my possession for quite some time now and for that, I apologize. I apologize to my colleagues, for whom this all reflects poorly. I apologize to Crucial Blast Records, kind enough to send a promo only to have it sit there on a shelf (inside a Clerks lunchbox, if you want to get technical), mocking this sad bastard of a "writer" who cannot even string together enough objective hyperbole to warrant being called a review. I apologize lastly to the band, whose hard work and dedication to their craft simply are not deserving of such sloth on my part.
I have difficulty reviewing post-rock music. Partly because I loathe using the term "post-rock" regardless of how well the suit fits. But I mostly have difficulty because, I'm not sure I really understand it. What I do understand is that it takes balls to make music that can so easily be relegated to the background or, in other words, something to put on while you're doing something else, be it have friends over, changing the oil in your car, writing that term paper on the effects of global warming on pandas (I'd imagine they'd feel warmer first, what with all the fur) or whatever. This of course isn't to say it's boring, but by not having the safety net of lyrics and thus, in the general public's eye, a "song," it seems risky. But I think I'm just getting old. Listeners aren't as jaded as they once were. Back in my day (get comfy), those jaded listeners would forgo music altogether because there was "nothing worth listening to." Now, and thank God for this, even the most jaded can find solace in something, be it shoegazer, Slovakian/Balkan Christian-core, or indie-guitar-swing and yet still have the luxury of their soft, downy elitist pomposity to keep them warm at night.
Call me old-fashioned, but like all music I choose to write about, I listen to it, over and over again if need be. Not to make myself like it mind you, but to at least gain a better understanding of it, especially if it's of a genre that I don't quite "get."
Souvenir's Young America is not lazy music. Not for the listener or the creators. Music by and large follows a formula. If not the traditional verse-chorus-verse formula, then there will be the hook. The hook can be lyrics, a riff, and hell, in some cases a band's hook can be nothing more than abnormally long song titles. Ok, that one's technically more of a shtick, but you get my meaning.
What Souvenir's Young America has created on their sophomore album is post-rock indeed, but something not so easily relegated to the soundtrack of your housework. An Ocean Without Water is a richly textured album worthy of one's full attention. It's visual in the sense that it will bring to mind certain things as you listen that may not be the same things someone else listening to it envisions.
With that said, I'd imagine one commonality I would guess it is stated in most descriptions is that it has a western type of feel and it does indeed have that. Due in large part to the aforementioned harmonica usage, which is very evident on the penultimate track 'Invocation In The Caldera." A damn good tune that had I directed the recent remake of 3:10 to Yuma, I would have most certainly used it for the train-station standoff at the end.
The album's final track, "Coragyps Atratus (Ego Te Absolvo)," then goes full-blown Morricone that serves as a very effective post-script to the album as a whole.
Other songs, such as the tom-heavy - these bands love their toms, don't they? - "Mars Ascendant" and "Blood Alone Does Not A Father Make" serve as proof positive that Souvenir's Young America may not have been around as long as some others in the genre, but by bringing it to another level with more multi-faceted instruments and influences they can make themselves every bit as valid as the Isises, Jesus, and Neurosises of the world.