Yes, the long-running Austin, Texas-based quartet Explosions in the Sky eschews vocals. Yes, the group often favors feeling over the strictures of pop-song form. Yes, the feeling of choice is often expansive, unfurling slowly from its source to the rafters. But to call the group, as so many do, merely “post-rock” is sort of missing the point.
If there is such a thing as “post-rock,” it’s something a little colder, a little less immediately emotionally available. Consider some of the other acts who, for better or for worse, find themselves under that genre umbrella. On one end of the spectrum, there are the minimalist, almost jazz-like, electronics-heavy titans like Tortoise. On the other are the acts bordering on or springing from metal, a la Pelican and Jesu (who straddles both of these ends).
Since the band’s beginnings around the turn of the millennium, Explosions in the Sky has rarely, if ever, opted for harsh experimentations in sound or structure. In fact, most of the act’s material is downright lovely and immediately affecting, even with songs that are slow burners.
Take “Postcard from 1952,” probably the closest thing to a single from the group’s most recent album, last year’s Take Care, Take Care, Take Care. It takes just under two minutes to really get going — that’s about when the very first drum hit is heard — and until then floats mournfully on carefully picked guitar. But from that early signal of the coming crescendo, the song plainly, unashamedly tugs at the heartstrings. The chords are minor-key, the gently rolling drum beat pushes everything along inexorably.
It’s a clear meditation on the passage of time, and of real or imagined nostalgia, and it’s easy to get this from the beginning, regardless of the song title. Despite the song’s length — at seven minutes, probably three minutes longer than the average “regular” rock song — it manages to accomplish everything a proper rock song should do. It follows a narrative (even without words!), masterfully manipulates the listener’s feelings, and goes down pleasurably to boot. So don’t call this post-rock — let’s just call it rock, and of a brand that should sound especially powerful through the sound system at Grand Central, where the group headlines this Wednesday.
Explosions in the Sky. With Zammuto, 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 20 at Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Tickets cost $25 in advance; all ages. Call 305-377-2277, or visit grandcentralmiami.com