Explosions in the Sky came into my life at a time when I was listening to a lot of other instrumental rock bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Mogwai. After receiving a copy of EITS's Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever, I kind of schlepped over it because it sounded like a smaller, lo-fi version of Godspeed and Mogwai. Listening to EITS again after four years, I realized that I have been missing out.
Reading about the band on Chrome Waves (full archive of posts here), reading all the rave reviews about their second proper album, The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place and them doing the score to Friday Night Lights kept the band in my thoughts. It was all of those things, but I now consider myself a huge fan after reviewing the band's "first attempt at recording," How Strange, Innocence, for Punk Planet.
The story goes that the band recorded How Strange, Innocence essentially as a demo for anyone that wanted to hear their music. They only made 300 copies of it on CD-R and essentially gave it away at shows. Once the buzz was building on the band, there was more demand for the record. Temporary Residence then pressed 300 copies on LP and to no one's shock, the pressing quickly sold out. Now remastered on CD and with more than 300 copies pressed, everyone can enjoy this record.
Listening to How Strange, Innocence reminds me of the days of the 11:30s, my band in college. We were inspired early on with bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Sigur Ros and Ride and later added a little more Nuggets-era garage rock to it. We tried to record some songs on a computer, but ultimately we weren't that satisfied with the results and the songs were never released. Reading about Explosions' thoughts on How Strange, Innocence now sounds rather familiar: "We've had a bit of a love/embarrassment relationship with this record. At certain points along the way several of us wanted to buy back all of the copies and burn them. Listening now to the album, it almost seems like a different band composed of four different people."
Hearing almost all of EITS's material, I don't think there is anything to be embarrassed by with How Strange, Innocence. It's not some cheaply-recorded demo that sounds nothing like the band now. You see a natural progression from it to Those Who . . . and The Earth . . . It makes sense.
Too many bands and labels think people really want to hear demo material. Seeing all these reissues of young bands' records out with demo versions of already-released material is a cheap smokescreen. Hearing a track like "Time Stops," I can't think of a reason why somebody wouldn't want a song like this out there.