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 as well as 1 randomly chosen throwback record 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.
MONDAY: Teen Daze – All Of Us, Together
TUESDAY: Papier Tigre – Recreation
WEDNESDAY: Σ-Fly – Oddities
THURSDAY: The Mynabirds – GENERALS
FRIDAY: Violens – True
SUNDAY: Shag – Revolution
THROWBACK: Kyte – Science For The Living (2009)
Teen Daze – All Of Us, Together:
For the past 3 or 4 years, this new genre known as chillwave has basically been sweeping the music world. It's fair to say that a lot of people figured the genre would die out quicker then it came, sort of like witch house did after a few decent years. Chillwave though, has stayed pretty secure and it continues to push the boundaries of what people have cemented to it. Teen Daze came out of nowhere in 2010 with an EP entitled Four More Years and a follow-up LP, ironically named My Bedroom Floor. Four More Years was a very original record, bringing in a much more electronics based chillwave style of music to the mix. My Bedroom Floor wasn't as critically accepted but it still showed an emerging artist who had some serious potential. Both albums were sort of strengthened by the fact that they resolved around this bedroom pop sound with a chilled out electronics backdrop. It was as if Washed Out took some cocaine and recorded music with nothing but a laptop in his childhood bedroom. Although both albums had a very dirty, lo-fi concept, the music was very genuine and quite fresh. Because of his explosive debut, Teen Daze has been one of the more anticipated musicians around especially with album releases for this year. All Of Us, Together has been described by Teen Daze as being his first, true LP and one that he is ultimately very proud of. The music has shifted a little bit on this release as songs carry a much more dance driven dynamic and he has also mixed in some balearic beat rhythms. Musically, the synthesizers still flood with tremendous amounts of color and inspiration from start to finish on this album. You can tell that Teen Daze is more motivated than ever before as he jams out for perfection. This record is a much more professionally made album as that bedroom pop characteristic has been almost completely washed away. This time, the record is clean and very ambitious but for whatever reason, vocals were almost entirely left out this time around. One thing I really loved about Four More Years was the very subtle vocal harmonies that were placed so carefully in between each note. They didn't serve as the most significant sound on any track but they tied each song together with a very sweet finishing touch. Since then though, vocals have been scarce on records for Teen Daze. His decision to go to a more instrumental path isn't something I am very fond of especially on this new album because you can tell something is missing. The music is pretty great but when you have this very clean, washed out sound, it makes it easier to spot the negatives. One thing though that I really had fun with on this record is how it ended up reminding me a lot of the soundtrack for Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest to the point where I almost felt like the game was actually on in my room at a menu scene. If any of you grew up playing that game like I did, then you would know just how utterly awesome that comparison is because that soundtrack kicks serious ass. All Of Us, Together is a leap forward for the young career of Teen Daze as his music continues to soothe my longing for electronic chillwave but in the end, this album comes up a little bit short of the high mark I had hoped it would achieve. If the music were as incredibly awesome as the album art, this thing would be a top 10 for sure, but it unfortunately is not.
Papier Tigre – Recreation:
Math rock is one of the most exquisite genres that music has to offer in my opinion. Where as most genres have certain boundary lines that musically you really aren't able to venture past, math rock is just full of new and innovating ideas. The genre all starts with asymmetrical time signatures. It's what drives the genre and forces it to do more than just rock out. Math rock has always been a guitar driven style of music and for obvious reasons and it's why the genre is so difficult to stand out in. If your guitarist isn't Dave Knudson or Ian Williams then chances are, it's going to be difficult to survive amongst the tiny members only club which is math rock. Papier Tigre is a French band that goes against the grain. Their songs are very punk related, singing lots about partying, angst and droning individuality. Their music can be classified as garage styled as production always seems to be quite low but the music doesn't take a serious knock for it. Instead, the low quality recording style puts tremendous influence into the lyrics written by Eric Pasquereau. His singing on the other hand, is quite terrible. It holds on to those nasty 90's punk bands who made names for themselves as being painstakingly annoying. Vocals though, is not what defines a math rock band. Like I said before, it all starts with guitar and on Recreation, there is some pretty serious shit going on with guitar. Songs all stick to odd time signatures and for the most part are very uptempo with lots of dance friendly rhythms. What's odd is the band is still without a full-time bassist but on this album, there is definitely some bass guitar that kind of fills in the gaps once left behind on their past records. Percussion kinda saves the day too, creating a very tribal sound that really puts lots of energy and depth into each song. Musically, these guys are pretty gifted. I cannot say that I would ever put them among even the second tier of math rock bands mostly because they have a very generic punk sound that I grew tired of in 1998. Papier Tigre is a great band for anyone who is into some summer fun music to just have a good time too. Although they miss the mark on my scope, I can see this band gaining some popularity with anyone who really loves punk music.
Σ-Fly – Oddities:
Σ-Fly, which if you've never been a part of Greek life in college, translates to Sigma Fly. Created as a way to express some experimental ideas musically, musician Tom Holmes, from the United Kingdom, has opened up some eyes with his first few EPs released in the last couple years. His debut EP entitled Tetrachrome, was pretty overlooked in 2011 but has some electronic music fans making the subtle return back to it because of his new EP, Oddities. Oddities was released back in January of this year and had somewhat of a slow start on bandcamp up until recently. It seems as though people are starting to catch on to this young producer's ability to create downtempo music and there's really no reason to not try it out as it's free at bandcamp. His style is extremely experimental with lots of dubstep techniques where drums and bass play a major role. The album is only made up of 4 very short songs, all of which sound very similar to say a combination of Burial and Clubroot, mostly because of the odd time signatures and bass driven beats compiled around some very programmed and filtered vocals. The songs are almost quite haunting in a way as the heavy vocals which seem to be sampled, really put emphasis to the haunting silence beneath the beats. This is where the ambiance really shines as Holmes is very intelligent with how he uses it. I really enjoy listening to amateur musicians like this as the talent is obviously there, now it's just time to find a home. Production wise, this album really lacks the presence of high quality recording equipment but that's the disadvantage of being an independent artist in today's day and age. The album is only 4 tracks long but even so, it grows a bit tiresome very quickly. The songs sound a bit too similar in my opinion although I really enjoyed the finale track on the record, "Rainy Season (You Know How I Feel)". On that track, the vocals are brought to the forefront and really give the record a glimpse of hope for some energy to be squeezed out. Although this album isn't anything tremendously special, keep your eyes open for Σ-Fly in the future…I have a feeling about him.
The Mynabirds – GENERALS:
After one album, the indie pop band Georgie James decided to call it quits and focus on their solo careers. Laura Burnhenn, who played the keyboards and contributed vocals to Georgie James, would go on to form The Mynabirds with Richard Swift. As the two were multi-instrumentalists and had the ability to experiment musically, it was a perfect fit. After a year together, they released their debut album, What We Lose In The Fire We Gain In The Flood, which was met with decent reviews almost all across the board. Burnhenn showed a tremendous dexterity as a folk songwriter as she blended these Americana concepts with some soul oriented sound techniques. The vision she had all along musically finally had a chance to take over and it it really translated on the debut. Now, a few years later, the duo has released their follow-up LP entitled GENERALS, which shows a surprising change in direction for the music. The warm Americana aspirations that were present on the debut have since been squandered and replaced by some less time-honored and structured sounds. GENERALS is a much more confident album though that is full of bold ideas but somehow the ideas just don't really come together. Instead, the album lacks the ingenuity that made the first record so capable of being what it was. At times this record just seems a bit too deprived of that same focus and the deviation in sound just doesn't seem to hold much of an identity. Some tracks such as "Mightier Than The Sword" and "Buffalo Flower" really stand out and show Burnhenn's terrific songwriting skills while other such as "Karma Debt" and "Radiator Sister" are caught wanting to be something that they don't have the ability of being. GENERALS ends up being another Sophomore LP that has a band at the crossroads for a band's ideas and just doesn't work in their favor.
Violens – True:
It's 2012, yet, so many bands have been re-exploring 80's pop music especially within the last 10 or so years. Those jangly guitars that once made bands like New Order or Duran Duran famous are continuing to make noise on the indie circuit as bands who are inspired by that decade of pop music cannot help but maintain that layout of song crafting. Violens is a band from New York who sticks to the nostalgic brand of music making, creating very lofty, dreamy pop music that goes hand in hand with lots of those late 80's pop bands. Their debut album, Amoral, which was released in 2010, showed a band that was kind of stuck in place with a sound that was more or less old and branded. The album was an OK piece of pop music but in the midst of a year that was overtaken by experimental, complex music, there was really no place for something so generic and clad. Their reputation as being an 80's pop revivalist act has continued to strengthen on their new LP, True. Although the record continues this motif of retro pop driven sounds, the band does find some new ideas to play around with. Some of the tracks show off more dream pop guided material as those same jangly guitar rhythms and simplistic drums beat over an airy vocal piece by singers Jorge Elbrecht and Iddo Arad, both of whom show a very genuine talent at doing so. The band's biggest knock though since the release of their debut album has been their songwriting which for the most part is more or less dull and plain, like eating a plain bagel without cream cheese. Some of the lyrics just seem void of any true ideals or worthwhile conflicts to talk about and in the end, it's really overshadowed by what is going on musically. True definitely shows the band at their all time best especially on the opening track "Totally True" and the post-punk driven "Every Melting Degree". Both tracks do a pretty awesome job of combining the band's inspirations with a more modern device that brings the songs to another level. Although Violens seems to be just another nostalgia driven band, their music isn't something that people should disqualify. The band shows some great potential at some very key moments but in the end, the inconsistency on their new record seems a bit too much which really gives the record a disadvantage. Still though, I look forward to hearing more from this young band in the future.
TV Girl – The Wild, The Innocent, The TV Shuffle:
TV Girl have become a cult favorite among indie music fans after the release of a few EP's the last two years. Although the EP's were good, most of their success up to this point could be attributed to the incredible sample of Todd Rundgren's "Hello, It's Me". The song by TV Girl, "If You Want It", was a pure gem from 2010 and it showed just how creative TV Girl could be remixing other artists. That is basically this band's biggest strength, taking other tracks and sampling them to form their own songs and they've done it quite often. After their EP's from 2010 and 2011, it was time to release a full length as the fans, including myself, were really begging for one. The debut, full length mixtape was released earlier this month and it shows the band in a bit of a different form. On their first couple EP's, the band really went after that chillwave sound that has become so prevalent in today's indie culture but on The Wild, The Innocent, The TV Shuffle, the band is much more pop oriented then ever before. The album still explores tons of samples and the band has yet again decided to release the album for free to avoid any legal issues. Good for us though! Now, the album does show signs of ware on the style of music these guys release. The samples aren't quite as spectacular on this new LP as we don't get the fun, summer rhythms of "If You Want It" or the soulful, hip hop influenced "Benny And The Jetts". Instead, the songs here are quite hit or miss which I think has something to do with the fact that this is a mixtape and not an official LP with a concept. Tracks such as "I Wonder Who She's Kissing Now" shows off the band's true potential but other tracks just leave no room for growth whatsoever. By the time I reached the second half of this album, I hate to admit that I became insanely bored by it all. The other thing is that Trung Ngo, the chief songwriter and vocalist for the band, isn't the greatest songwriter or vocalist for that matter. Most of his music is built around these really fun samples and although I really enjoy some of the tracks, especially on the EP's that were released, it starts to grow old after a while as I long for something more original in nature. On top of that, the monotone vocals that drape themselves over the samples just doesn't follow suit with what the music is trying to portray. It almost takes away from the bright and colorful image the music is drawing for you which is a big issue with me. This album was quite a disappointment for me as I have grown to be quite a fan of TV Girl but in the end, this new mixtape clearly shows off the band's weaknesses and I think it's about time that TV Girl sit down and try to make an original, conceptual record where fans can finally see what exactly it is they have to offer.
Shag – Revolution:
Meet Shag, a 19-year-old college student who in between studying and more likely partying on a daily basis at school, finds time to write and record 19 albums in a 3 year time span. Seriously? I honestly have no clue how this kid does it but he does, and somehow, the albums find ways to maintain a decent flow. I first came across Shag last year with his album Volume 9: Separation, which stood out for its heavy trip hop. His music is all instrumental hip hop with lots of very bassy, downtempo rhythms and very funky, original mixes that make your head spin. Some of his tracks are sampled but most of the time, this kid is really showing off his tremendous talents at the helm of production. His latest release is his 19th record entitled Revolution. From what he states, the album was his most exciting and fun record to record thus far. Revolution continues the onslaught of trip hop waves but this album seems much more mature than others I have experienced by Shag. The beats seem more masterful than ever before, more well thought out and just genuinely more interesting. On this album, he seems to have decided to use a bit more atmospheric approach in the recording style with a bit more ambiance. This subtle change musically really brings out each beat to a much higher level and I have to applaud him for it because it truly works. Some of the tracks off this album such as "Summa Love" and "Still Here" are some of the better trip hop songs I have heard all year so far which says a lot. Shag has really come a long way in just a few short years and although I love seeing young, ambitious artists release albums at the maximum level of speed, I think I would like to see him concentrate more on each record and take his time a bit more. When you release more then a couple of albums per year, records tend to blend together too much and end up seeming a tad sloppy in the process. Although Revolution is genuinely better then the rest of his records, it still kind of gets lost in the endless pages of his catalogue. I think once he grows to a more mature level, Shag will become a household name in the genre though and I look forward to hearing a more organized, sincere involvement in a one album per year approach. Once he narrows his ideas down and concentrates more on one sole album, the material will surely be that much better.
Kyte – Science For The Living:
I was introduced to Kyte a few years ago when I was checking out some new music through Myspace. I had come across their page somewhat accidentally but I couldn't be more glad about it. 2009 was a pretty great year for music with amazing albums from Animal Collective, Phoenix, Porcupine Tree and The XX just to name a short few but one of the bands that went under the radar was Kyte with their limited Japanese release, Science For The Living. The album transcends all the stereotypical dream pop clichés and uses a post-rock influence to create something pretty spectacular. When I first heard the band I was immediately reminded of Sigur Ros, mainly because of this combination of post-rock and dream pop. Unlike Sigur Ros though, most of the music by Kyte is electronic with lots of very pop oriented sounds. The band consists of Nick Moon as a tremendously talented singer and songwriter, Tom Lowe as the lead guitarist whose abilities mesh perfectly with the band's goals in sound, Scott Hislop on the beautifully done drums, and Jamie Ward who does most of the keys and sound effects programming. Ben Cox was also a part of the band at that time as the band's primary bassist but has since left the band to pursue other things. On this record, every track really is a standout but what I like best is the amazing cover of Peter Gabriel's "Solsbury Hill" which I think is a rare moment where the cover is actually better than the original. Musically, this band put out one of the most gorgeous records of 2009 and since then I haven't heard all that much that would really beat it out. This combination of different genres with the ambiance of all these gorgeous electronics at work behind a post-rock band is just epic really. Science For The Living is an album that I fell in love with after my very first listen and I continue to cherish this record as well as the band themselves for being everything I could ever possibly want in a dreamy, post-rock band. If you missed this album in 2009, make sure you check it out today because I'm telling you, these guys really understand the beauty of music.
After another great week of album listens, I am more than ready to start another. 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!