I hate split records. I just don't like them. If I'm buying a record from a band I like, I expect to get my money's worth of music from that band, not from some other band that I don't like or probably never even heard of.
That is, I hated splits. After the O Pioneers!!! came out with a split 7-inch record with Alvin, Texas post-rock outfit By the End of Tonight, a newfound respect grew for the split record. The split, which doesn't get much publicity by either band, is a decent showcasing, at best, of both bands' talents (and maybe that's why they don't draw attention to it). However, to find the true substance of BTEOT, one must dive deeper into their catalogue. After the self-produced …In a Letter to the Sandbox, which got them signed to Temporary Residence Limited, and a four-song EP called Fireworks on Ice, the band came out with their most defining work to date, A Tribute to Tigers.
Unlike their contemporaries on Temporary Residence, such as Explosions In the Sky, Mono, Eluvium, and Maserati, BTEOT isn't just a post-rock and/or ambient group, but rather a moderately diverse band caging a list of influences together in an effort to create something resembling difference. To sum up BTEOT would be like trying to measure the influence the Clash had on punk rock, and music, in general: near-impossible. I'm not saying they are the next great band since…whatever Pitchfork told you to listen to (what is it this week, some freak-folk artist? Or something more avant-garde?). But what BTEOT do that many bands fail to do is blend their influences in such a manner that they are visible and distinct, yet still flow as if they were using a formula tried and true.
While post-rock in nature, that is only an escapist term used for music lacking vocals and identified as instrumental. But BTEOT makes nods to several bands, showing their respect but also talent in using what they've learned to create something extremely fresh and relevant. The whole album is littered with references to those influences. They have Explosions in the Sky-esqe guitar workings, including those glittery moments as well as those fully distorted transitions. Their math-rock tendencies resemble that of Look Mexico or caP'n Jazz, though the guitar tone is crunchier, such as that of the O Pioneers!!! and is often heavier and more spastic, in the vein of the now-defunct Blood Brothers. They make references to post-hardcore and speed-metal, such as that of At the Drive-In and Converge, though maybe not as brutal. And though the band usually has next to no vocals, they are partial to screaming every once in awhile, a chaotic mess that, again, is much in debt to the Blood Brothers. The percussion, once a complaint because of its overbearing, often inappropriately mixed sound, is nothing spectacular, but deserves a significant amount of credit for keeping this mess of music stylings in order. And, hell, if that isn't enough, they throw in some electronic phrases and even a little acoustic guitar.
However, it can't be reiterated enough that the real success here is the blending of several musical disciplines without sounding contrived or forced (a problem more visible on their early work). By the End of Tonight have focused their musical potential and shored up their melodies and cohesion to create something completely deserving of attention on a national level. Now only if they could do a split with Explosions In the Sky, maybe then they might get some exposure…
Setting Sail in April