Shapes Stars Make These Mountains Are Safe

They may come across as devoted disciples of fellow Texans Explosions in the Sky, but the build-up and ensuing conflict between the crashing cymbals and end-of-the-neck guitar tinkering as "Giant Bird" closes cements Shapes Stars Make as worthy students of the post-rock quartet. To their credit, Shapes Stars Make only use the instrumental start-from-nothing-and-then-explode formula as a foundation, adding their own elements (like occasional singing) to the mix. When Michael Gooden opens his mouth for the first time on third track "(We Are) The Hurting," a mellow breeze overcomes the song. With a voice reminiscent of Jimmy Gnecco, the band let him drift the song through pleasant guitar meanderings. The trio hit their high point on "Be Gentle, Young One." The thunderous offering ends with one guitar screaming, with the other floating notes above the chaos below; it's cinematic and moving. This album is one of the best that 2010 has seen so far. (Dreamt)