You could say this list will be ‘instrumental’ in your future listening choices.
I could wax lyrical about the history and importance of instrumental rock, but if you’re reading this, I assume you’re well versed. Fuck the intro, let’s get down to business.
Hailing from Dublin in Ireland and mining a particularly upbeat brand of instrumental rock, these folks craft intricate but immediate tracks. Take ‘banger’ for example. Aptly named it oscillates between periods of control and chaos with note perfect precision, inventive playing, and a heft that is pretty damn soaring.
2. Stuck In November
Bangalore in India is not the first place you’d think of to look for an emo inflecked style of instrumental rock, but that’s exactly what is on offer from Stuck In November. Sporting a clean and focused sound, they come across like a more upbeat American Football sans vocals. They’re also just a touch more uplifting.
Now for something slightly more moody and brooding. Autism are Lithuania natives and theirs is a more restrained and less busy approach to instrumental rock. ‘Film Noir’, streaming below, takes its time to develop, slowly building layer upon layer before exploding into a cornucopia of sound. Furious and cathartic.
Chicago’s Monobody combine jazz, pop, math and progressive rock to create a sound that is insistently driving and captivating. ‘Lifeguard of a Helpless Body’ quickly progresses through more ideas than most bands have on an entire album. However, never does it feel overplayed or for the sake of showing off.
5. The Return South
Austin natives The Return South combine a funk and groove to their instrumental rock that is adventurous and oddly danceable. Plus, on ‘Aerial Mapping’, there’s a whole hand clap section. And I love hand claps goddammit. As far as I know, they haven’t released anything in over three years. Which is a pity. Here’s hoping they get back on the horse soon.
6. If Only
Here we have Akron, Ohio group If Only heading into highly intricate territory balanced with periods of restraint and grace. There’s also a tendency towards periods of soaring beauty that really put the emphasis on emotion rather than technicality. Expect some synth work along the way too. A potent mix.
What I love about Scottish quartet VASA is their deft mixture of melody, technicality, and soaring emotion. Listening to them is a mesmerising journey that will fascinate and make you also feel all the feels. Plus, they are an absolute powerhouse live. Especially, if you’ve had a few drinks and go full mad bastard.
8. Around Train Station
Intensity and aggression are the name of the game when it comes to Russia’s Around Train Station. Compared to the others on this list, their sound is a good bit less intricate. Having said that, they pummel your face with walls of sound and pure, honest emotion. So it’s all good. P.S. ‘Закат’ means ‘sunset’.