Fireworks for the Ears

When asking friends if they happen to be fans of Explosions in the Sky, one of two reactions often occurs. The first, and often more awkward of the two, is that a friend will slightly turn their head in puzzlement, cock an eyebrow, and nervously laugh while they ask for clarification, “You mean like fireworks?” All of this transpires while simultaneously worried thoughts race through their head that perhaps they aren’t the best judge of character and how in the world have they accidently befriended someone who is about to share with them the intricate details of a plan to in fact create explosions in the sky. Reaction number two, however, is drastically different and results in a broad smile spanning the friend’s face followed by a flow of emotional expressions declaring their undying love for what is, and will forever, be the extraordinary musical talent of the band, Explosions in the Sky.

 

Following this second reaction, conversation ensues about when and where the band was first heard and in what ways they have positively impacted the lives of their listeners. Stories have been shared by friends back home who have used them almost therapeutically while driving through empty deserts after dealing with a tough break up and by college friends who used their songs to recover after Hell Week. Yet, the once obscure band from West Texas that increases it’s following with each passing year is hard to categorize. Emotional, yes, but far from what is considered emo. Rock, of course, but infused with string work that is symphonic in its way. Perhaps the difficulty is due to their instrumental nature where three of the four members play electric guitars (although a bass guitar is substituted when needed) and the fourth member is on drums. Analogous to the works of El Ten Eleven, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and Mogwai, Explosions offer their own signature sounds to the genre and each new album, although foundationally similar, offers refreshing original compositions.

 

Their full length albums, currently numbering six, typically have between five and seven songs that range in length from three to twelve minutes. These lengthy songs are filled with relentless buildups and ebullient climaxes that are almost impossible to express in words, that is until the songs titles are reviewed and you are again left speechless at the band’s ability to brilliantly capture the essence of their work in a few words. Beautiful titles such as “Glittering Blackness,” “Be Comfortable, Creature,” “What Do You Go Home To?” and, most famous, “Your Hand In Mine” provide words for the wordless rhythms. Their musical ability has also led to their music being used in a number of movies and television shows and has provided them the opportunity to perform entire soundtracks for three movies, Friday Night Lights, Prince Avalanche, and Lone Survivor.

 

Although the time in which you could feel a sense of superiority over your friends for knowing about the band before them is quickly coming to an end, the chance to see Explosions is still something to pursue and then flaunt. Often only performing at expensive concert events like Bonnaroo and Coachella, catching them on tour is not easy. Luckily, they will be starting their tour of Asia in late April and have scheduled two shows for Japan in May, including Osaka, (click here for concert details). It is a strongly recommended experience and one you will not regret.

 

Sean Mulvihill

 

Favorite title from each studio album

 

“Time Stops”                     How Strange, Innocence

“Yasmin the Light”             Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Die,

                                       Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Live Forever

“Your Hand in Mine”           The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place

“Day Five”                         The Rescue

“It’s Natural to Be Afraid”    All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone

“Let Me Back In”                Take Care, Take Care