What makes one band stand out from and another when they're using all the same instrumentation and indeed many of the same musical hallmarks and sounds? In some cases, the actual differences are so small that it would be hard to actually come up with anything concrete. In fact, as with most things music-related, it finally comes down to personal taste as the final arbiter, and of course it's this factor that's the hardest of all to pin down. The Exquisite Death Of Saxon Shore is the newest release from the group Saxon Shore, and it has things in common with many bands I enjoy, including Explosions In The Sky, Ester Drang, and Mogwai. That said, I just can't get into their newest release.
Having said the above, I find myself in a bind as to why this newest release doesn't grab me like others in a similar genre. "The Revolution Will Be Streaming" is all pummeling drums, chugging rhythms and guitars that alternately scorch and soar, while "With A Red Suit, You Will Become A Man" trickles in some nostalgic keyboards and tinny guitars that recall classic electronic pop from the 80s. Meanwhile, "Silence Lends A Face To The Soul" arcs with a triumphant piano melody and increasingly blistering guitars and drumming that culminate in huge crescendos.
In some odd way, The Exquisite Death Of Saxon Shore sounds like some of the most overused pieces of post rock recycled and boiled down and pulled together onto one release. There are the huge sonic releases, the stripped-down melancholy passages, chiming guitars, lumbering drums that occasionally drop out to reveal electronic programming. Produced by David Fridmann, much of the release has the almost over-glossy feel that haunts (and sometimes hurts) his other efforts.
That's not to say that the release is all bad, because the group certainly pulls a few surprises (like on the lovely "This Shameless Moment") out that put a smile on my jaded face, but for some reason I just can't shape the fact that I feel like I've heard most of the release about 5 to 10 times already elsewhere. Considering the genre is one that seemingly endlessly feeds on itself, there was bound to be a moment where I felt this way. Now that it's happened several times in the past couple years, it's going to again take a few more twists by enterprising artists to keep me tuned in.