True fans of music spend countless hours searching for that next great song, album or artist, whether it be online or in a local record shop. The beautiful thing about music in today’s age is that technology has created an infinite supply of great music that is available to us at the click of a mouse. How perfect is that? We can discover a brand new artist on the opposite side of the globe in seconds without a radio or a music television channel. It only makes sense that a website so dedicated to this gorgeous universe of music would want to celebrate the greatness and share it with anyone who is looking.
My name is Eric (Connecticutter), and I am your host of Straight from the Teet, where I will delve into 7 new albums per week and let you know which tracks I loved from the albums I listened to. I hope that my exploration through this never-ending sea of music will help satisfy that hunger for the brand new tracks you have been seeking.
TUESDAY: THEESatisfaction – awE naturalE
WEDNESDAY: Deep Sea Arcade – Outlands
FRIDAY: The Mars Volta – Noctourniquet
SATURDAY: Ascoil Sun – Emergence
The American Dollar – Awake In The City:
This week started off incredibly for me as far as music goes. On Monday, Sigur Ros released a track from their forthcoming LP, I found out that one of my favorite folk bands by the name of Horse Feathers has a new album set for release early next month and then I found out Jet broke up. How does a week start off any better than that you ask? Well, The American Dollar could drop a brand new record and that's exactly what they did! I have been saying for years that The American Dollar, a post rock / ambient duo made up of John Emanuele and Richard Cupolo, were probably the greatest band that nobody has ever heard of. Although they have grown into some public success since 2010's Atlas, the band still doesn't have a huge following, at least not one as big as I would imagine they should have. The American Dollar have been making music since about 2005 and have released 5 original LP's and 2 remix's that were more or less just ambient versions of their albums A Memory Stream and Atlas. Overall, the band explores a post rock influenced brand of music but it is so much more evolved then just that. Most of their music relies heavily on electronics but at the same time, it never takes away from the electric guitar solos or banging drums that really gives their music a name for itself. It's hard to truly compare them to any other band out there right now as their music plays in between the lines then your average post rock album or ambient record. The experimental edge they have isn't difficult to fall in love with as their music is some of the most melodic and gorgeous music I have almost ever heard. I know that is a bold statement but trust me, if you spend an hour listening to any one of their albums all the way through, your life will change for the better. On their new album Awake In The City, The American Dollar continue this trend of cinematic soundscapes that deliver such unique beauty that it's almost impossible to describe. The fluttering pianos and gorgeous electronic loops that back up epic guitar solos and rhythmic drums is just sensational and the band has once again, created something quite divine. Although it's difficult for me to put into words just how tremendous this band is at creating musical portraits right in front of your eyes, I think you should just sit down and let their music speak for itself.
THEESatisfaction – awE naturalE:
Rapper Stasia Irons and blue note vocalist Catherine Harris-White met while attending the University of Washington. The match seemed meant to be as both females were not only hungry for an experimental music career but they were also romantically interested in one another as well. Their music would quickly become that of 70's neo-soul meets experimental hip hop of the 21st century. The combination of Irons' rap and Harris-White's deep vocals would later play a significant role on Shabazz Palaces' debut LP last year. On what was a dense and very complex record, the girls added a very organic ingredient to the album making it much more fruitful in the process. It was inevitable that we would finally get an LP from the girls who go by the name THEESatisfaction, which I'm telling you is very opposite of fun to continue to type (I hate holding down the shift key for more then a second). On their debut record awE naturalE, THEESatisfaction has found a remarkable way of making the most complex tunes seem like the simplest r&b tunes ever. Their music simply rolls over you in this very smooth dynamic that just feels as natural as the title describes. The music is reminiscent of old school, dark jazz music but it also explores some very soulful beats that sounds like something you might hear at a modern day poetry reading. Most of it is done with some structured electronics but at other times, the saxophones and pianos shine out and bring the rhythms of the record in with a great deal of strength. I have to say, my favorite part of this record are the soulful vocals from Harris-White who sounds like a much more experimental Erykah Badu. The strength in her voice is what really drives the structure of each song and although she leaves room for Irons to bring in her hip hop, it's the vocals that really stand out. In fact, at times I would almost rather the rap be done away with as I find it too difficult to stay interested in the lyricism that Irons includes. Overall, this record is a very intriguing one that will leave it's legacy in blending different time frames of music and different genres of music into one, integral piece of poetry.
Deep Sea Arcade – Outlands:
You know when you come across an artist and their name is just super awesome and you decide right then and there, without even having heard the music the band offers, that you have to like the record regardless of how bad the music might be? It happens to me sometimes mostly because of cool band names or better yet incredible album artwork. I'm not gonna lie though, 99 times out of 100 the band ends up being so bad that I end up unfortunately hating their guts. Now, I came across Deep Sea Arcade through an online buddy and I was immediately pumped to hear the record based on the band's name which I thought was one of the cooler names I had heard in years. I was pretty quick to give the record a spin and although I don't love it by any means, I can't say I hate it either. The album's identity is primarily based around indie pop influences but it also contains this Australian styled psychedelic nature that so many bands from the continent are helping create. This psychedelic sound is very comparable to the early 60's psych movement in Britain and it's kind of uncanny. I remember a few years back when Tame Impala hit it huge with their debut LP and the sound of that record was very similar to Deep Sea Arcade's, although it was a lot better. Deep Sea Arcade play it safe with their music with lots of subtle guitar chords and relatively flat drum sequences that don't ever have a chance to truly blossom. Although the instrumentation isn't anything remarkable, the vocals are very suitable. The production really makes this possible with lots of very interesting echoing effects and filters that create a pretty angelic sound style for the lyrics. Even so, I get a bit too bored by the second end of this album and I think it's mostly due to the fact that this Australian psych movement is just growing old now after a few years. All in all the album just ends up being average at best because of it's inability to really get your brain working or your blood stirring. Nothing is really happening while you take this album in and it just lacks a true personality as a whole.
Loops Of Your Heart – And Never Ending Nights:
Axel Willner is the brains behind a musical project known as The Field, which has been one of the most critically acclaimed electronic projects in today's indie world. His success within his bearings as The Field have really grown to a vast amount of different ideas and influences and because Willner has a strong shell about keeping his projects organized within certain brands of music, he has decided to go in a different direction musically under a variant pseudonym. Loops Of Your Heart is the name that Willner has decided on for his minimal ambient compositions. The debut album under this name, And Never Ending Nights, was released the second week of February and although I was very curious about the content of the record back when it was released, I pushed it off a bit after I had heard some sample cuts from the record itself. For me, Willner is a master of making minimal techno music into this rhythmic, anthemic craftsmanship. His music may not be exactly accessible, but it's going to make you want to get off your ass and dance and when you combine this with some of those complexities that separates his music from the rest of the house world, you have something very special and unique. When I had heard a tiny sample off of this new record, I noticed a dramatic change in style to the effect of really slowed down beats with lots of almost generic sampling going on. The album is known as an ambient record but the true beauty of traditional ambient sound is totally non existent. In fact, this album to me, comes across as more of a stripped down, beginning stages of a techno record. It's almost like he had these samples and effects and was about to master them into some tracks but then at the last minute decided he no longer wanted to use them. The bare bones of what was left ended up becoming this new project and it really doesn't match Willner's expertise or abilities in any way, shape, or form. For the most part, these tracks are just a bore fest because of what seems to be a lack of real effort. It's odd to be speaking about a Willner album with such criticism mostly because I have loved every piece of music he has released so far into his career, but this just sounds like D sides or a way to just shell out some extra music for his fans, finished or unfinished.
The Mars Volta – Noctourniquet:
Deep at heart, I have always loved progressive rock music. Whether it was Pink Floyd making some of the greatest long plays ever created, King Crimson creating a timeless masterpiece or Porcupine Tree revitalizing a genre that seemed to be dying off in the 90's, progressive music always stirred my interest. I've always loved the experimental edge it carried with keyboards and synthesizers but the ingenious guitar solos that conquered the airwaves were really what drove me toward the genre in the first place. Guitarists like David Gilmour and Robert Fripp are pretty much the godfather's of progressive music and have turned into everything that new and young guitarists strive to become within the genre. Omar Rodríguez-López is no different as his influences have always been those of 1970's hard rock music. His guitar playing has always been the establishment of what makes The Mars Volta a worthy band in the first place. Although my love for the band never even reaches half mass, I have always had a kindled respect for the guitar oriented sound that Rodríguez-López exhibited. Even so, the band's albums have been up and down on almost every release, even for fans. Their inconsistent song writing and musical blueprints have been more of a let down then anything else. On their newest release Noctourniquet, the band seems to have made some further changes to their once guitar driven sound. The new album explores much more experimental aspects especially with guitar effects but also with production as a whole. They seem to have lost that progressive rock tag and journeyed out into more intricate waters. I'm not sure this is an altogether positive thing but I can't knock a band for trying something new. It's nice to hear a band escape from the normal and reestablish themselves as something more then they get credit for but in this case, The Mars Volta are unable to overcome their own shadow. The music on this record is at an all time low as effects pedals put a damper on the driving force of the band while drums come in at odd tempos and bass guitar just distorts everything into one gigantic mess. It's important to note that the music for this record had been recorded roughly 3 years ago but the lyrics went through a 3 year phase of slow evolution. Although this is a normal recording process for the band, it's never taken this long for both portions to find their way to paper. Rodríguez-López was quoted as saying "this album is the end of an era" and I think that had multiple meanings. It could mean that the band is coming to an abrupt end but it can also mean their music is making a complete 180, and that's basically what went on with their new LP.
Ascoil Sun – Emergence:
In 2008, Matti Mikkola & Pasi Salo formed as a comprehensive electronic duo from Finland under the name Ascoil Sun. They released their debut LP entitled Pinnacle Of Coil in 2010 and although it didn't reach the radar of a mass amount of people, they did capture the buzz of lots of electronic music critics. Now, 2 years later, the duo has released their sophomore LP Emergence and it has garnered a very similar character then their debut. Not much has really changed in a significant way as the sounds still come across as a mix of psybient meets progressive. Most of the sounds are done with programming and does in fact hold some nice beats but the constant programming actually makes this album sound too washed out. The drums especially is where this album pushes me away as they are just so super clean that's it's hard for me to really enjoy them. There are some other moments where I feel like I am playing Donkey Kong 2 for Super Nintendo as these jungle music sounds are created using electronic keyboards. This odd variation ends up playing out like an old video game mostly because of the simplicity of these sounds and just the overall spruceness of each note. On top of all this, the album does seem to outstay its welcome, coming in at a whopping hour and 15 minutes! Psybient is one of those genres that blew up years ago especially with bands like Infected Mushroom or Easily Embarrassed who made the combination of psybient and progressive music sound almost easy. In the end though, I think this genre seems to be running dry of truly unique ideas and although I think there will be successful albums within the genre, I just don't see Ascoil Sun's newest album as anything more than mediocre.
Great Lake Swimmers – New Wild Everywhere:
Great Lake Swimmers are an indie folk band that is primarily built around singer/songwriter Tony Dekker. Over the years, the band has continued to blossom with fuller sounds and a more diverse structure to the band itself. Although Dekker is still the key ingredient, the band has added everything from banjos to violins to catch a more atmospheric dissolution of what they once were. The band has been known to record in various, odd locations such as subway terminals and outdoor boardwalks in order to continue their themes of the world around them. For the most part, they have kept that identity which is even recognizable by their water themed album names. Their newest full length is no different, carrying the name New Wild Everywhere. Although this pattern of oceanic album titles has been lost, the new title seems to broaden their songwriting ideas. Dekker's lyrics continue to be a mainstay for Great Lake Swimmers and combined with his subtle vocals that are barely sung, it's easy to continue making comparisons to the great Red House Painters. But lets not get carried away, Dekker is surely no Mark Kozelek. As the band continues to make it's living from traditional folk ballads that do more to close your eyelids then keep them open, Great Lake Swimmers have had trouble shedding those rough, sensitive edges. Even when the band tries to pump up the electricity they don't seem to fully grasp the ability to do so. I have been a fan of the band ever since their debut release but I have to admit that it's getting a bit old. Even the songs that stand out on New Wild Everywhere end up getting lost in the midst of their entire catalogue of tracks. With an album title like New Wild Everywhere, I have to admit I was hoping for an epiphany from the band. Maybe a change in sound or a greater intensity in their production but in the end, everything comes out as processed as the latter album.
A week that started off amazingly is behind me and I am ready for another week as I look forward to getting back to all of you readers next Monday. If anyone is interested in purchasing or simply hearing any of these albums online, I have linked them for you at the top of this page to make it simple. I hope you have enjoyed reading this weeks edition of Straight From The Teet and I look forward to bringing you a new group of records next week. Please leave comments here at the bottom and let me know what you liked or didn't like from this week's lineup. Have a great week!