Thumbs up: +13
What follows is an introductory list to some of post-rock's essential classics, contemporary landmarks as well as a few recent personal favorites - especially the kind I think can show the genre's potential for diversity. If you don't know what post-rock is about, listening to these albums should give you the cultural competence to evaluate new albums and avoid embarassing yourself in dinner party conversations. Post-rock is a controversial and vague term that even some of the genre's central figures refuse to identify with. I've used it in a fairly loose sense, including a wide spectrum of bands that all forgo rock convention.

The list is not without bias: I'm sick of melodramatic crescendo masturbation like Explosions In The Sky, Do Make Say Think, God Is An Astronaut or Yndi Halda. You won't find that kind of recommendations here. Post-rock is so much more, as I hope you will learn from what follows.

(Disclaimer: Whether this list is metal-related is questionable. However, MS features at least eight post-rock bands and the genre is mentioned all the time in relation to its modern metal blends. In addition, Introspekrieg's most popular list on MS features post-rock albums as well, so I believe this is justified. Tortoise is as relevant to Neurosis fans as Jethro Tull is to Opeth entusiasts.)

Created by: IronAngel | 24.10.2011



1. Talk Talk - Spirit Of Eden
Where it all began. Most consider the follow-up Laughing Stock to be their masterpiece, but to me nothing beats this: it's lush, delicate, sophisticated and sincere.
2. Slint - Spiderland
Cold, repetitive and disturbing, Spiderland brought math-rock into post-rock.
3. Stereolab - Switched On
Though hardly post-rock by today's standards, Stereolab's blend of art pop and drony krautrock jams shaped the genre to come. An unorthodox album choice, but my personal favorite.
4. Bark Psychosis - Hex
Supposedly the first album to be labelled post-rock, Hex is a laid-back and loungy blend of ambient, slowcore and jazzy elements.
5. Tortoise - Millions Now Living Will Never Die
The breakthrough of instrumental post-rock (all the above albums feature vocals), this album weaved all the essential post-rock influences into a whole and pretty much provided the genre standard until the 00s wave.
6. Cul De Sac - ECIM
Forgotten pioneers who never got the fame they deserve. This is one monster of an album, mixing frantic space rock, psychedelic surf rock and krautrock. And it was released as early as 1991!
7. Labradford - Mi media naranja
A haunting piece of nocturnal ambient post-rock. Atmosphere aplenty.
8. Dirty Three - Whatever You Love, You Are
Dirty Three's brand of post-rock was born as a minimal crossbreed of classical and slowcore, but by this record they've reached the layered bombast that would define the noughties.
9. Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada
The band that is synonymous for post-rock to many today's listeners. This EP sports two of their best songs, and it's short enough not to lose momentum.
10. Sigur Rós - Ágætis byrjun
A staple of modern post-rock. Not a personal favorite, but there's no ignoring the impact this had on the decade to follow.
11. 65daysofstatic - The Fall Of Math
Energetic post-rock spiced with electronic twists and turns, one of the better households names of the noughties.
12. Magyar Posse - Random Avenger
Finland's flagship offer a unique dish of rhythmic neoclassical post-rock on their third LP.
13. Earth - The Bees Made Honey In The Lion's Skull
Earth left their drone roots long ago, and this lush and warm album is a fine example of ambient post-rock.
14. The Samuel Jackson Five - Easily Misunderstood
A progressive/math-rock flair and unique songwriting make this a standout album.
15. Mono & World's End Girlfriend - Palmless Prayer/Mass Murder Refrain
If you're into grandiose neoclassical post-rock that sounds like a film score, you probably can't do better than this. Boring and long-winded to some, sublime and breath-taking to others.
16. mùm - Finally We Are No One
Icelandic experimental stuff. Not quite post-rock, but close enough to warrant a heartfelt recommendation.
17. Efterklang - Tripper
Glitchy electronic, indiepop-influenced post-rock.
18. M83 - Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts
Instrumental, shoegazey synth music with a definite post-rock aesthetic. Fuzzy electronic sounds wash over the listener in waves.
19. Hammock - Raising Your Voice... Trying To Stop An Echo
If you're after sentimental ambient rock, it doesn't get much sweeter than this.
20. Jaga Jazzist - What We Must
The most "post-rockish" album by this jazz act, this album is quite unique.
21. *Shels - Sea Of The Dying Dhow
Combining post-rock and atmospheric sludge is nothing unique, but *Shels manage to make the style their own.
22. Year Of No Light - Ausserwelt
A recent take at atmospheric sludge with an instrumental, post-rock angle.
23. Her Name Is Calla - The Quiet Lamb
Delicate chamber music influences and majestetic post-rock that can create tension without resorting to crude volume.
24. The Ascent Of Everest - From This Vantage
In the same vein as the above, this is one of the best and most distinct albums of the 10s.
25. And So I Watch You From Afar - And So I Watch You From Afar
Energetic and speeding music that burns your ears and melts your brain. Heavy math-rock influences.
26. Envy - Recitation
Instrumentally, pretty but cheesy post-rock. The screamo vocals push it into distinctive and interesting territory.
27. Les Discrets - Septembre et ses dernières pensées
Both taking post-rock to new directions and pointing back to the 90s when it was more common to use vocals in the genre. Often mistaken for a metal record, this is pure post-rock.
28. Grails - Deep Politics
A diverse collection of cinematic tunes that keep you glued to the headphones.
29. Einar Stray - Chiaroscuro
A young Norwegian composer's debut, mixing chamber pop and post-rock into pieces of mesmerizing beauty.
30. Mogwai - Music For A Forgotten Future
I guess I can't get away with not including Mogwai on a post-rock list. Oh well, I'll pick the bonus disc/track of their latest album Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will.
31. Silent Whale Becomes A Dream - Canopy
Long, gorgeous tracks with the occasional heavier side.
32. The Pirate Ship Quintet - Rope For No-Hopers
Five years after their acclaimed EP, they released a full-length debut. Powerful, emotional post-rock with chamber music instruments and a touch of screamo.
33. Explosions In The Sky - Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever
Sigh. I'm not a huge fan, but you'll whine if I don't mention them. So there you have it, their album with the prettiest cover.



Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
[ More lists by IronAngel ]



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eponymous - 25.10.2011 at 08:50  
I like this list, even if I don't know very much about post-rock. However, I wish you followed your "mission statement" - if you dislike Mogwai and Explosions In The Sky, just leave them out. And if you feel that they belong on a listing of the essentials anyway, then why not include whatever is the critically most acclaimed album? I'm not really sure about EITS, but for Mogwai that would be either the debut or the sophmore.
Slayer666 - 25.10.2011 at 12:02  
No This Will Destroy You?
Prolly my first post-rock band, that one. Anyway, will be checking out stoofs from the list, looks damn nice.
R'Vannith - 25.10.2011 at 17:12  
Nice list, I've always found this genre difficult to grasp but there is some great music within it. Only familiar with a few bands you mention, this list will be helpful. I tend to lean towards the more 'melodramatic crescendo masturbation' stuff though.
IronAngel - 25.10.2011 at 19:11  
This Will Destroy You, yeah. I considered them, but to be honest I haven't heard their debut in ages and I don't know it that well. Tunnel Blanket on the other hand is not that good, IMO.

R'Vannith, I recommend you check out Magyar Posse's second album, Kings Of Time. I could also name-drop some bands in that style of post-rock: Yndi Halda, Do Make Say Think, God Is An Astronaut, A Silver Mt. Zion, Mono, Jakob, Russian Circles, Dirty Three, Laura, Maybeshewill, Crippled Black Phoenix, Pan American, Pg.lost, Gregor Samsa, Caspian etc. but to be honest, I don't listen to this stuff enough to know what's good and what's bad. I'm just going off other people's recommendations, so I'm hardly qualified to say anything more than "check them out, you might like them."
R'Vannith - 26.10.2011 at 11:41  
Written by IronAngel on 25.10.2011 at 19:11

R'Vannith, I recommend you check out Magyar Posse's second album, Kings Of Time. I could also name-drop some bands in that style of post-rock: Yndi Halda, Do Make Say Think, God Is An Astronaut, A Silver Mt. Zion, Mono, Jakob, Russian Circles, Dirty Three, Laura, Maybeshewill, Crippled Black Phoenix, Pan American, Pg.lost, Gregor Samsa, Caspian etc. but to be honest, I don't listen to this stuff enough to know what's good and what's bad. I'm just going off other people's recommendations, so I'm hardly qualified to say anything more than "check them out, you might like them."


Thanks for the suggestions
MechanisT - 26.10.2011 at 13:52  
Awesome list, and one that I'll be following quite closely.
tea[m]ster - 28.10.2011 at 01:37  
Terrific, thank you...Now I have alot of myspace players and youtubing to do!
Cynic Metalhead - 03.11.2011 at 21:58  
Its really hard to get in this genre especially when you already have listen some of the albums and still befuddled what the fuck is going on?! Its a great list bro and I think it helps me out to let me fucking in and grew my incomplete lust.
IronAngel - 03.11.2011 at 22:40  
Written by Cynic Metalhead on 03.11.2011 at 21:58

Its really hard to get in this genre especially when you already have listen some of the albums and still befuddled what the fuck is going on?! Its a great list bro and I think it helps me out to let me fucking in and grew my incomplete lust.


Happy if it helps. I don't expect you will like all of them, because the list covers quite a wide spectrum, but I'm happy to give more recommendations of a specific type (if I can) if there's something you especially like. There are also plenty of big post-rock bands I didn't include for various reasons, and you can find a few of them mention in the comments here.

Thanks to everyone else for the comments too, great to see people bothering to read what others share!
Mr. Doctor - 07.11.2011 at 19:57  
Any thoughts about Spaces - Nothing Exists but Atoms and the Void

From what I'm listening right now it sounds nice. Because I'm not an expert I can't tell if it's there's any originality value at all but I like what I hear There was a lovely sax on a song, sexy.
IronAngel - 08.11.2011 at 11:41  
Written by Mr. Doctor on 07.11.2011 at 19:57

Any thoughts about Spaces - Nothing Exists but Atoms and the Void

From what I'm listening right now it sounds nice. Because I'm not an expert I can't tell if it's there's any originality value at all but I like what I hear There was a lovely sax on a song, sexy.


Hadn't heard it before. I don't know about originality, but at least it avoids the biggest clichés of the genre. There were actually some great surfy and/or space-rock moments like Edge Of Forever and Erda. But then you had some more fairly derivative stuff like Alnitak and Depths. I wish the sound was better, doesn't feel like they're making the most of all their instruments. I'll definetely give this more listens. Thanks for the recommendation.
Mr. Doctor - 08.11.2011 at 16:05  
Written by IronAngel on 08.11.2011 at 11:41

Hadn't heard it before. I don't know about originality, but at least it avoids the biggest clichés of the genre. There were actually some great surfy and/or space-rock moments like Edge Of Forever and Erda. But then you had some more fairly derivative stuff like Alnitak and Depths. I wish the sound was better, doesn't feel like they're making the most of all their instruments. I'll definetely give this more listens. Thanks for the recommendation.


When you said "sound" you mean the production? Because I found that aspect quite perfect... I liked how cristal clear it was.
If you mean "songwritting" then yes, they could have done a bit more specially considering those "surfy/space moments" you talked about.
You're welcome
Spirit Molecule - 08.11.2011 at 16:19  
I would have liked to see From monument to masses and maybeshewill on the list as well. I'm definitely going to check out some of those artists.
I love post rock, especially if there are traces of some math rock as well. The japs are definitely good at doing this stuff, muddy world, about tess, mudy on the sakuban just to name a few.
IronAngel - 08.11.2011 at 17:46  
Written by Mr. Doctor on 08.11.2011 at 16:05

When you said "sound" you mean the production? Because I found that aspect quite perfect... I liked how cristal clear it was.


I do mean the production (as it applies to the technical treatment of the sound). Sure it's clear, but it's not very "big" or natural - it sounds a little flat. (I seriously don't know any technical terms, as you can see.) The string instrument (cello or viola?) at the end of Edge Of Forever and prominent in Barren Moon, for example, certainly doesn't sound acoustic and intimate, like it would in a live chamber music recording. It all sounds a little artificial and restrained, which doesn't evoke any "Whaaa did you hear that timbre right there!" moments in me. Not a big issue, I guess.
Mr. Doctor - 08.11.2011 at 17:49  
Written by IronAngel on 08.11.2011 at 17:46

Not a big issue, I guess.


Oh well, it's a mater of tastes, I dig the production and how "cold" and sterile it sounds.
BoxCar Willy - 25.08.2012 at 23:11  
This is where it's at.
IronAngel - 25.08.2012 at 23:33  
Written by BoxCar Willy on 25.08.2012 at 23:11

This is where it's at.


I've checked a song here, another there, but never bothered to check them out further. Seemed to be the kind of post-rock I've had enough of. The kind that's good and nice to listen to, but you really struggle to find a reason to listen to a new band or album in favor of your old favorites. I no longer seem to be able to give new bands a chance with fresh ears.

I might have to add The Pirate Ship Quintet to my list, though. They really impressed me with their debut LP.

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