Post-rock is most definitely the 2000's equivalent of hardcore in the 1980s or indie rock during the 1990s. While basically receiving no mainstream success, it has risen to the top of the underground's hype circle with bands like Sigur Ros and Explosions in the Sky carrying the torch given to them by pioneers like Slint and Bark Psychosis. While all of these bands are certainly well received as post-rock, there is one band that has essential helped shape the genre into what it is, and in a sense what will become of it. Godspeed You Black Emperor!, kings of post-rock, rulers of the underground, and as of today nowhere to be found. Sure GYBE showed how much they rocked with Albini's help on their 2002 release Yanqui U.X.O, but where have they been since then? Hiatus apparently, yet the member mostly reconized as the leader of that intensely popular band, Efrim Menuck has been carefully knitting away on a little project called A Silver Mount Zion. While the band's name is certainly up for discrepancy the familiar GYBE attitude is extremely present. The anarchist tainted music, the depressing yet uplifting melodies, and the familiar string section of his former band. But perhaps what makes ASMZ so unique from the GYBE is the extremely personal and individual attitude they take upon presenting in their music. While GYBE possessed "lyrics" in the form of sound bites and samples, Efrim uses his voice as a tool to further push his emotional hilt into the listeners of A Silver Mount Zion. Where as GYBE's music delt with the excitement and epicness of the revolution, A Silver Mount Zion's music seems to deals with the repercussions of that act. A Silver Mount Zion's music is full of the confusion and pain but also the hope and joy of the barren wasteland left after the world's apocalypse.
This description of ASMZ's music is important because "Pretty Little Lightning Paw" kind of marks a change in the band's sound. Where with their previous releases "He Has Left Us" and "Born Into Trouble As Sparks Fly Upwards" ASMZ painted very depressing tales in their music, the first track on "Pretty Little Lighting Paw" certainly makes it seems like the band's attitude has changed. "More Action! Less Tears!" starts off with a sample of a girl goofing around and then quickly changes into an instrumental piece that is very reminiscent of the opener on GYBE's "Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven". "More Action! Less Tears!" is very upbeat and possesses a very intense feeling of joy and happiness that slowly withers away when the paranoid "Microphones In The Trees" follows it. "Microphones In The Trees" makes very good use of Efrim's unique voice by layering melodies through out it. While GYBE and ASMZ are both known for their use of heavy reverb, the kind found on "Microphones In The Trees" is overwhelming to say the least. The "center point" of the EP "Pretty Little Lightning Paw" is a very vocally centered piece that makes use of lots of layered vocals too get across its point. The track ends with a barrage of odd samples that cut way into the more hopeful "There's A River In The Valley Made Of Melting Snow" which could be described as "post-shoegaze" with it's fuzzy guitars and distorted vocals. The beauty and fear found in all of these tracks is what truly makes them work and what makes "Pretty Little Lightning Paw" such an interesting EP. It is essentially a realist view of the world that while filled with much despair and hate, also finds beauty in the truth and instead of being angsty about their disgust with the world Efrim and his band of Canooks come of as a bunch of people just regretting how beautiful things could be if there were just a few little changes.
The flaws on this album are few, Efrim's tattered voice, the similarities in the final three tracks. But really if you are a fan of post-rock everything that you want is present here and if you are a fan of emotionally charged music everything that you could want is also present here. While "Pretty Little Lightning Paw" is certainly not the best post-rock release, or even the best A Silver Mount Zion release, it carries with it some unique tricks on a somewhat played out genre as well as some truly personal music. If one artist could be said to be wearing their heart on their sleeve Efrim Menuck is most certainly it, and "Pretty Little Lightning Paw" just goes on to reiterate this point.