100 great math rock albums you’ve never heard [51-75]



51. If Lucy Fell – You Make Me Nervous (2005)

iflucyfellWith instantly recognisable dissonant, distorted thumps and squeals; screams and sentences spouted out lackadaisically; and a uniquely particular rhythmic malleability, If Lucy Fell were the first band dubbed math rock in Portugal. Their influence now runs deep in the Portuguese alternative rock and hardcore scenes (watch out for our next compilation), and their second record is also worth a listen, but nothing can match the raw and filthy perfection of You Make Me Nervous – a math rock classic that is sadly not widely available (although there are still a few tunes floating around YouTube). TM

52. charlottefield – how long are you staying (2005)

charlottefield In early to mid-2000s U.K. if you wanted something dirty, bass-y, and on vinyl (at a time when the medium was supposedly dying out) you went to Jonson Family Records. They did Part Chimp, Blood Red Shoes, Hey Colossus, compilations of rather ace and off-centre stuff. They also brought us Charlottefield (on CD mind, the vinyl came from Unlabel who were also key in early U.K.-mathy). Charlottefield seem like the type of miserable seawords that’d balk at the label math rock but check out opener ‘Nine Tails’, that off kilter drumming, that meaty angular bass, that scratchy guitar…they were thinking Chicago for sure. AS

53. Rosolina Mar – Before And After Dinner (2005)

rosolinamar It’s perhaps contentious as to whether this Italian trio is considered obscure, but it is fair to say that we are losing the monumental Before And After Dinner to the annals of time. A superb array of funky low-to-the-ground math rock that will have you bopping along to an odd time signature quicker than you think. This album is available for free download thanks to the exceedingly generous RobotRadio Records. NH


54. Honey For Petzi – Man’s Rage with Black Ham (2005)

honeyforpetzi The early days for Swiss indie band Honey For Petzi were seated in instrumental math rock. Man’s Rage with Black Ham and Heal All Monsters are both stellar examples of the band’s prowess in this field. I tend to side with the former of these masterpieces, due to its angularity. The jangling guitar and lo-fi production also give this record a DIY garage-rock flavor (but its overwhelming creativity puts it on another level). NH

55. I Am Above on the Left – An A-Bomb To Wake Up (2007)

iamaboveontheleft A throwback to the noisier post-hardcore days of math rock, this fiery sophomore release by Russia’s I Am Above on the Left leaves a mighty bruise with its muddy bass and slack, distorted guitars. An A-Bomb To Wake Up moves from dissonant, sludgy breakdowns in the ‘the korova milk bar’ and ‘lucifer’s hammer’, to Ruins-style oddball jazzcore in tracks like ‘znedo’. Fans of Shellac and Big Black looking for a bit more bludgeon are encouraged to enquire within. NH


56. Planets – Planets (2007)

planets copyHere’s another record that is insanely hard to track down (but not without some YouTube remnants). On par with the technical ingenuity of Hella and the compositional complexity of Tera Melos, these guys were one of the craziest NorCal math rock duos in the mid 2000’s, with Paul Slack (Swims) furiously shredding a bass like you’ve never heard before, and Thomas Crawford (Smiling) slamming it out like a maniac on the drums. A hugely under-appreciated band that deserves more recognition. Check out the rest of their TURBO JAMZ on Bandcamp and hit follow – maybe we can make them notice we need this album on there, too. TM

57. Gay Beast – Disrobics (2007)

gaybeast Like some kind of fusion of DNA‘s no-fucks-given no-wave abrasiveness, the aforementioned Bad Dudes’ quirky synth-laden celebratory punchiness and Hella‘s spastic rhythms and adept compositional instrumentation from There’s No 666 in Outer Space (which actually came out the same year/month as this record) – Gay Beast are definitely from another dimension. Their whole discography is an incredibly special addition to the genre – with every single sound they create eventful and fascinating – and hopefully years from now, people will continue to be inspired by their queer awesomeness.  TM

58. O! the Joy – Zen Mode (2008)

othejoy Sometimes you’re looking for an album that will draw you in with catchy hooks yet still leave you absolutely puzzled. Zen Mode by Sacramento four-piece O! The Joy certainly hits those nails with its catchy vocal harmonies, frenetically tapped guitar lines, and complex lines of instrumentation (‘There Is No Such Thing As Organized Crime’ is a wow). Of course, this should all come as no surprise, considering that we are dealing with former members of Mister Metaphor. An excellent choice for those looking for some disjunctive fun but are easily swayed by the siren calls of pop. NH

59. Aucan – Aucan (2008)

aucan In some circles, Aucan may be described as Italy’s answer to Battles, with their reliance on quirky keys and synths to enhance their instrumental rock. One may listen to Aucan’s wonderfully executed self-titled full-length and immediately hear elements of Battles’ Mirrored and their myriad of EPs. Is there anything that sets the band apart from their more popular adversary? Not really. Which is why you’ll love ’em. NH

60. J’envoie – J’envoie (2008)

jenvoie Once in a while you land on something that’s just perfect: smooth-but-crunchy math jazz/rock with some québécois post-punk vibes. Jackpot. If bands like Jaga Jazzist, Yonen or Alarmist float your boat, you will enjoy this, surely. Their self-titled debut has a strong trip-hop/jazz essence to it and is a good starting point if you want to ease into their music, like a dream. Then we highly recommend their follow-up La Vitesse des Chats Sauvages, where they ramp up the proggy wonk a notch and things really get weird, more like a hallucination. TM

61. What’s Up – Content Imagination (2009)

whatsup Not to be confused with the one-hit-wonder by 4 Non Blondes or the Swedish boy band, this enigmatic and elusive Portland trio offered the world one album, Content Imagination, and a split with South Korea’s ssighborgggg. Content Imagination has all the oddball electronic quirks of Adebisi Shank and Gloss Drop-era Battles, but what is most remarkable are the off-kilter ‘not-quite-right’ melodies the pervade the album. It’s like someone put a magnet too close to a computer and then made it spit out show tunes. NH


62. John Makay – Mon Amour Mi Amor (2009)

johnmakay As someone who grew up listening to early Hella and Kaki King, discovering the french duo John Makay was like discovering a new sibling; comfortingly familiar but freshly exciting. The mastery behind their compositions and technical prowess on display are extremely impressive and fulfilling to experience. On top of that, they covered the rad tune ‘Anthem For The Earnest‘ by The Bad Plus – which I think is the new hip thing more math rock bands should do: cover jazz bands. It’s been a long while since this album came out but they are still alive, and it’s a damn crime people don’t know more about these two. One can only hope for a new release soon so we can push it out to y’all. TM

63. CHLL PLL – Aggressively Humble (2009)

chllpll From the bizarre and polyrhythmic mind of Zach Hill (HellaDeath GripsThe Ladiesbygones etc) came CHLL PLL, a weirdo powertrio project involving Zac Nelson of Prints, and Zachariah Dellorto of Danava. In their sole album Aggressively Humble, Hill’s familiar intense percussion is balanced with psych-folk wanderings and bizarro electronics. It’s not anything we’re not used to from a Zach project, and its as catchy as hell. NH


64. Shelflife – Shelflife (2009)

shelflife Before venturing into Town Portal, guitarist Christian Ankerstjerne played in Shelflife. Indeed, a lot of the Town Portal motifs can be heard in their lighter, post rock-leaning 2009 debut; tracks like ‘Tape Song’ and ‘Night Time Bike Rides’ will no doubt resonate with budding fans of the former. If you thought the Portal were under-rated, wait til you give this one a squeeze… NH

65. The Continuous Battle of Order – Pttrn Skrs (2010)

tcboo Rather than replicating the all-out cacophony of their two-piece peers, Belfast’s The Continuous Battle of Order opted for a bit more emphasis on the higher parts of the fretboard and cleaner percussion. Less abrasion, more technicality. And it serves them well in their 2010 full-length PTTRN SKRS, which combines looped guitar noodles and wonderful polyrhythmic chops with intermittent themes of rationalism, dystopia, technocracy and futurism. NH

66. Silian Rail – Parhelion (2010)

silianrail Silian Rail stood out for their compositional wholesomeness, rather than OTTness, antics or chaos, somewhat like Cousin, Toe or NASDAQ, but accomplished as a duo. Robin Landy explored and utilised the whole spectrum of her guitar to deliberately play their arrangements, with an expert ability to sustain coherent melodies/harmonisations amidst shifting bass lines. All while Eric Kuhn provided the most perfectly matched rhythm section, plus some synth and guitar (which he sometimes played with drums together live), fleshing out a whole extra chunk of dynamic flavour. They were truly amazing and excelled at making emotional music with guts and guile. Check all their music on Bandcamp and the Farewell Show (2013) sadface.jpgTM

67. Charles The Osprey – Consider (2010)

charlestheospreyCharles the Osprey grew out of a small, but dedicated DIY scene that existed in Grand Rapids in the late 2000s. Guitar and drums math rock duos are nothing new now, but 10 years ago, Charles the Osprey was doing something that was very unique at the time and that was being a guitar and drums duo that wasn’t trying to sound like Hella and focused on a lot of clean tone and tapping guitar work mixed with heavy riffage. It’s very easy to consider a band like Charles the Osprey the norm now when listening to the large amounts of math rock floating around on the internet, but the band were way ahead of their time and it’s taken the rest of the scene to finally catch up to what they were doing. Consider was their first full-length LP and captures the band in their prime. WC

68. Three Piece Combo – We’re In Your Backyard (2010)

threepiececombo Three Piece Combo‘s follow up to their 2005 self-titled debut may be perceived as simply an offloading of extra material. However, each track in this small but undoubtedly rich release is an art project: the interlayering of musical phrases in ‘Jerk’, the metrical experimentation in ‘No Meal’, the blurred lines between melody and rhythm in ‘Backwards Man’. Do not get yourself fooled here: We’re In Your Backyard is more than a dump of unreleased stuff, it is a thought-provoking release that documents the band’s continuous exploration of the construction and deconstruction of music. NH

69. Obstacles – Dividual (2010)

obstaclesHailing from Copenhagen, Obstacles had an unfortunately brief stint, releasing some remarkable albums between 2010-2011, playing numerous shows and tours with Town Portal, and finally petering out by 2012 amidst the promise of a new album. Fortunately, their legacy is cast in their wonderful discography. Dividual is arguably the finest amongst their oeuvre, offering a beguiling mix of thunderous guitars, beautiful melodic element and space-y synthesizers. Fans of Quadrupede, Jean Jean and Gallops are bound to find some fun here. NH

70. Weye – Friends, Family and Others (2010)

weye There’s a casual and unconcerned air surrounding Weye‘s albums. Friends, Family and Others, par exemple, comprises a bunch of tracks delimited in part by ‘(Song 1)’ or ‘(Song 11), with no sense of order. It has the appearance of a quickly assembled demo. Don’t let this fool you. Friends, Family and Others has some of the most hypnotic, memorable and punishing riffs you’ll hear around this point in the math rock timeline. Compiling elements of math rock, doom, sludge, crust and punk, this is an instrumental record that is both aurally delightful and fierce to the touch. NH

71. Pharoahs – Photosynthesis (2011)

phroahs The mid-late 2000’s in the UK was a wonderful rennaisance for the math rock scene, once captured so elegantly by our chums in Musical Mathematics. It was a time when pop punk and math rock combined head on, producing acts like TTNG, Tangled Hair, Tubelord, Colour and the under-rated Pharoahs. Photosynthesis captures many motifs of the time: the tenor vocals with heavy British vernacular, the sing-along choruses, the abrupt shifts to complex instrumental interludes. It is an exemplary release during a time of revitalized interest in math rock. NH

72. Kowloon – Metallic Exotic (2011)

kowloon Tokyo’s Kowloon, sometimes stylized to KxWLxxN, is a blazing mix of post rock, jazz, prog and math rock. And they are extremely hard to track down, not least this wonderful jazz-laced full length Metallic Exotic. Fans of jizue, mouse on the keys and haisuinonasa will not be disappointed. NH


73. Evil Ex – Bygones (2011)

evilexWorshippers of the Three Trapped Tigers and wider Blood and Biscuits label dynasties may well have run into this absolute belter from Matt Calvert-led Evil Ex. Bygones is a slight musical shift from the IDM-leaning Three Trapped Tigers, focusing more on Calvert’s elegant guitar work. Yet the album retains all the spasmodic angularity we’ve come to expect from the Tigers boys, where contemporary instrumental rock collides head on with the avant-garde. NH

74. Afternoon Brother – Maiden America (2012)

afternoonbrotherMaiden America is as beautiful as it is challenging. As you make your way through this high-wired showcase of experimental rock, it’s hard not to stand back and ask yourself ‘how on Earth did I get here?’. Each track, led by the jangly guitars of Michael Saalman and Ed Woodard, is an unpredictable discourse of which the end will never resemble the beginning. Like Three Piece Combo, Afternoon Brother do not shy away from experimenting heavily with rhythms and phrases. In all, expect songs to chop and change abruptly, and leave your expectations of coherency at the door. NH


75. eá – ante-eó (2012)

anteeoHailing from the Czech Republic, synthesizes a mix of noise rock and math rock that is void of lavish effects and pedal board stomping. The tracks of ante-eó are just straight up angular instrumentals that are catchy yet challenging. We got in touch with this band and basically begged them to re-release their 2012 album to the public. They did. And they made it free. Go grab it. NH

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