Signals Midwest – Light On The Lake

Tiny Engines, 2013

Melodic post-hardcore that has evolved much since their last effort, while there’s still a lot of charged guitar work present, Light On The Lake is a more dynamic affair that uses calm moments and constant tempo changes to leave an indelible mark. You might say this is a more refined version of themselves (not that their last LP wasn’t top notch), and the well thought out lyrics suit the challenging, intricately fleshed out sounds. A rare band that would fit well at a hardcore show, pop-punk fest, or indie showcase.

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Alarms & Controls – Clovis Points

Lovitt / Dischord, 2013

If you were expecting similarities between this and A&C’s former bands (1.6 Band, Circus Lupus), you’re out of luck. Instead we get an art-influenced album of prog-rock meets jazz feelings and math-rock intricacies that few could parallel. The execution here is unconventional and the distinct sounds are easy to embrace, though certainly more for the sophisticated ears. Think back to when Shudder To Think got ‘weird’ but even more unusual – in a fantastic way.

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All The Best Tapes – The Gnar

Self-released, 2013

Frantic, somewhat schizophrenic math-punk from the Stoke on Trent quartet. One moment The Gnar is blasting the listener with a screamy, hardcore-influenced racket, the next it’s slipping into noodly/dreamy melodics and infectious emo-ish singalongs. ATBT’s most admirable achievement is not the vibrancy, inventiveness, and technical proficiency with which this is all delivered, but how they somehow drag highly listenable songs out of the carnage. Pick it up as a name-your-price download on Bandcamp.

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Edelweiss – Honduras

Bullion, 2013

Though you might think this music emanates from the UK and is comprised of musicians well into adult life, you’d be surprised as I was to find out most are under 20 and from Pennsylvania. The youngsters have a highly skilled version of math-rock, post-punk and shoegazey pop under their sleeve, these five songs sounding like a band well on their way to stardom. Sometimes easily palatable with electro-pop flourishing, other times making the listener earn it with prog-rock and experimental ideas, they even offer a stripped back acoustic tune to close it out.

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Halaska – Mayantology

Self-Released, 2013

Calling this math rock might be a severe understatement; Halaska’s idea of song structure puts them in a league all of their own. This first LP is beyond experimental, and moves on with a post-everything feel while alluding to free jazz, avant-garde rock and moments of carefully calculated noise. One might think something this meticulous would alienate the listener, but somehow Mayantology is instantly catchy – and don’t even get me started on that rhythm section…

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Black Dirty – Dirty Water EP

Self-released, 2013

Four tracks of shimmering math-pop from the Philadelphia quartet, who prove to be pretty much the polar opposite of their name. The guitars are clean, bright, and serve as both focus and highlight, the melodies buoyantly bobbing about in a Maps & Atlases kind of way, whilst breathy vocals unassumingly flit in and out. For a debut outing it’s an arresting display of innovative and intricate musicianship, and an absolute steal as a pay-what-you-like download.

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