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.
WEDNESDAY: Julia Stone – By The Horns
THURSDAY: Animal Kingdom – The Looking Away
SATURDAY: Soulsavers – The Light The Dead See
SUNDAY: Yppah – Eighty One
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Here:
Alex Ebert has gone through a very dramatic lifestyle change in the past 5 years. Once the wacky, eccentric frontman for the dance punk band Ima Robot, Alex has since battled drug addiction and found religion to be an alternate life path. In 2008, after joining a 12 step drug addict program and breaking up with his long term girlfriend, he created an entirely different persona with the name Edward Sharpe. Ebert claimed that this new identity he had taken on was a saving grace of sorts, a man whose sole purpose was to save mankind. Later that year, he formed Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros with an assortment of various artists and released their debut record Up From Below to mixed reviews. The album showcased a very big sound which makes sense when you have a band with over 10 members but overall it lacked any true standout qualities. Here, the brand new album from the band released May 29th, shows a slight shift in sound focus. The album gravitates to a more acoustic folk style but does still adhere to a lot of big soul orchestrations. Songwriting has also been more directed to a religious conceptual album that talks at great length about heaven, God, and faith. I'm not a religious person in any sense of the word but I do like these soulful songs that Ebert has written as it shows a man who has not only overcome great despair but has also found enjoyment in some kind of positive function. The band continues to sound like a 1960's hippy cult too which kind of makes me chuckle a bit as every time I hear or see this band make and play music, I can't help but picture them as dirty hippies living on a farm in upstate New York smoking mass quantities of marijuana. With the shift in direction toward a more folk gospel sound, I have to say that I was all together very surprised with this album as I went in expecting the worst but came out enjoying it much more then their debut record. The tracks on this album just feel well written and put together nicely and even though they have cut off the crust so to speak, their sound is still very good. I like the minor change in direction on Here and it makes me view this band in a much more positive light.
The Tallest Man On Earth – There's No Leaving Now:
Over the course of the last 4 years, I would be hard pressed to find a musician who has been more consistent then Kristian Matsson, The Tallest Man On Earth. During this period of time, Matsson has released 2 LPs and 1 EP, all of which have reached critical acclaim almost entirely across the board and his new LP is no different. He is what every contemporary folk musician wishes they sounded like in a sense. At times, Matsson reminds me of a vulnerable Nick Drake while at others, his confidence as a folk singer soars the sky among others such as even Bob Dylan. Matsson's songs are always propelled by his own acoustic guitar progressions and on his first 3 records, that seemed to be the only real piece of instrumentation present. His energy playing that guitar though, brought all 3 records great success as he showed off his tremendous skills as a classically trained guitarist. Lots of his critics are close minded about his vocal approach though which I guess I can understand as it's not something that you hear very often. I happen to really enjoy his singing as it feels very authentic and surreal. When you hear a Tallest Man On Earth song, it sounds like you are literally on some dreary porch in a rain storm as Matsson sits there on a wicker chair singing aloud to all the nature around. On his new album There's No Leaving Now, Matsson shows us a little bit of a change with his normal routine. The production on this album is much cleaner then ever before and we kind of lose that authenticity that his other records have contained. We also get to enjoy a much more broad instrumentation such as piano and strings. The title track of this record is one of the prettier songs of 2012 yet it's odd in a way because the acoustic guitar has been entirely replaced by a solo piano. I think Matsson's consistence continues with this record although I did like his first two albums a tad better. There's No Leaving Now is a much more emotional story and the energy isn't entirely there but the album is truly beautiful.
Julia Stone – By The Horns:
Julia Stone is best known as the other half of the brother-sister duo, Angus & Julia Stone. The folk duo has been a decently popular folk duo around the indie circuit for a good while now, but Julia has decided to try her own solo career. Although the sibling band does continue, her main focus has been on her own music which shows some really interest blends of dream pop and very dark, ethereal compositions. Her new album By The Horns, contains 10 tracks that are all built around the unique voice of Julia. Although her background is almost entirely made up of folk music, even going back to her parents having been a folk duo before having children, Julia has decided to create something much more ominous then just your every day folk ballads or the pop oriented sounds she explores with her brother. The tracks on By The Horns sound more like something that Galaxie 500 or Mazzy Star would release. I can't say that Julia has as good a voice as Hope Sandoval but she does have this really haunting way of singing each of her notes. Her voice acts as yet another instrument to the wild orchestrations that are taking place on this album. For the most part, all the songs here are very dark and downtempo but there are hints of something with a bit more flare, especially with her cover of The National's "Bloodbuzz Ohio". On her cover, she really does the song proud, adding a different sense of elegance to the already terrific song. I think overall, this album ended up coming a little short of what I think Julia has the potential of being. For the most part, these songs all follow the same sense of rhythm and texture and although I sort of dig this idea of dark, dreamy pop sounds ruling this record, I get a bit winded by the second half of the album. If it wasn't for a track like "With The Light", which totally saves this album as it is the most technically gifted and experimental piece of work she has ever been a part of, this album would have not even been on my good side. In the end though, there are just enough decent tracks here to compile a reason for Julia Stone to be taken seriously as her own, independent artist.
Animal Kingdom – The Looking Away:
Indie pop music hasn't really done anything for me as of late. 2011 showed some promise with bands like Rogue Valley, The Boxer Rebellion, and Tennis all releasing pretty terrific records but overall, last year showed a progression away from the generic indie pop outlook. 2012 continues this progression even more so as bands show a longing for more creative, experimental themes then the old E chord progressions. For the most part, this year's indie pop has been mainly crap as even the bands I normally look forward to hearing from that particular genre haven't released anything with any substance aside from Tennis, whose new album I happen to love. Animal Kingdom is a UK pop trio consisting of Richard Sauberlich on vocals, guitar, and piano, Hamish Crombie on bass, and Geoff Lea on drums. Their music consists of your normal indie pop attributes with lots of very bubble gum pop worthy guitar chords and basic drum patterns but somehow the band makes every interesting and fun. Although some of the tracks off their new album The Looking Away are so sugary they might give you a cavity, at others times the band shows off their melodic prowess. They make songs that carry a very energetic tempo with some very dance worthy sections. They kind of sound like a combination of Death Cab For Cutie and The Boxer Rebellion but with a certain edginess that really compliments their music terrifically. I really enjoy the songwriting by Sauberlich whose melodies within the lyrics create a really enjoyable sound within itself. The Looking Away is the band's sophomore LP and it really continues to show a group that is really making their musical contributions significant within the indie realm. As far as young bands go, Animal Kingdom should probably be taken as seriously as the rest and even though The Looking Away isn't some top 10 or even top 20 type material, the album is far too consistently good to just throw to the side.
Oddisee – People Hear What They See:
Oddisee is an MC/producer from Washington D.C.whose rap style is more observational then the angry, image driven bullshit you hear on hot 97 radio. Growing up in a wealthy neighborhood with 2 very cultural parents, Oddisee (Amir Mohamed el Khalifa) took inspiration from his seeing the world on the other side of the fence within the back end of D.C. His musical background began at a young age but didn't follow a traditional hip-hop influence as his mother listened to lots of gospel and his father listened to lots of poets and folk musicians. This interesting influence is always hanging around within his style of rapping which is quite refreshing. Oddisee has been growing in popularity among the hip-hop scene for quite a while now, but he has never been as significant as he is right now in 2012. Last year, he released Rock Creek Park, which was an instrumental hip-hop, to massively good reviews. His image has been circulating since all across the internet and this year he has not only released a pretty incredible EP that reworks cuts by Bon Iver, Marvin Gaye, Metronomy, and k-os, he has released yet another LP entitled People Hear What They See. The EP has been extremely popular amongst indie fans for its use of Bon Iver's "Re:Stacks" on the track "Paralyzed" which you can listen to and download over at Indie Sabbath this week. His LP is entirely original material, straying away from his remixes regardless of how terrific they are. People Hear What They See is a very old school rap record. I am instantly reminded of A Tribe Called Quest when I listen to Oddisee rap and just thinking about he and Q-Tip collaborating would create a full fledged orgasm. His flow is just untouchable but where he really stands out is in his lyrics. Oddisee isn't rapping about material things but rather important conflicts within our borders. This album brings hip-hop back into cultural significance and instead of creating all these miserable stereotypes for the all around culture within hip-hop, he instead raises a flag and makes things relevant again. Although I love the ideas behind the tracks on this record, there are a few times where songs seem to lose their splash and become a little bit tiresome. Although Oddisee has a magnificent flow on the mic, sometimes he loses control of the beats as they go on for too long at some places. Overall, this album is probably my favorite hip-hop record thus far this year.
Soulsavers – The Light The Dead See:
The alternative duo Soulsavers, composed of Rich Machin and Ian Glover, have been making music together since 2000. Over the course of the last decade, their music has crossed over into countless different genres and a huge variety of different styles. Their albums have always consisted of guest vocalists such as Mark Lanegan of Queens Of The Stone Age and heartfelt folk artist, Will Oldham. Although the duo has only released 4 full length albums up to this point, they have been rather consistent at creating unique and inspiring alternative derived music. Their last few albums, Broken and It's Not How Far You Fall, It's The Way You Land, both of which had Lanegan contributing lead vocals as well as being the chief songwriter, brought in a variety of influences including downtempo, country, and soul music to create something very unique. What really makes this band stand out is their flexibility with instrumentation as even though they are simply thought of as electronics musicians, they are actually more of an alternative band with live music roots rather then just playing with a mixing board. On the duo's newest record The Light The Dead See, Soulsavers continue their motifs but do so with Dave Gahan as the lead vocalist and songwriter. This album shows the band at their darkest hour, mostly because of the addition of Gahan. If you are unaware of who Dave Gahan is, he is the lead vocalist and occasional songwriter for Depeche Mode, a dark electronics band that basically ruled the music world throughout the 1980's. Although Gahan wasn't always the sole songwriter for most of the dark tracks the band put out, he adheres to that style on The Light The Dead See. The songs follow a blinding sadness on much of the record but keep up with a very melodic approach musically to narrow the gap. Gahan really makes his presence known here on this album and although I enjoy Depeche Mode, I have to admit that this album really doesn't show Soulsavers as being nearly as talented as they were on It's Not How Far You Fall, It's The Way You Land where Lanegan really brought that record to life. The Light The Dead See ends up being a bit too over dramatic and melancholic for my taste because of the songwriting and recognizable vocal structure. Even though Soulsavers continue to create some interesting instrumentals, there albums all start and finish with lyricism and how the collaboration actually works and for me, this collaboration seemed too predictable and unexciting unfortunately.
Yppah – Eighty One:
Yppah, which is pronounced "Yippah" (no worries, I got your back), is the brainchild of Joe Corrales Jr., an electronic rocker from Houston, Texas. Born in 1981, Corrales went through high school as your typical band musician, playing in rock bands with countless friends as the lead guitarist. His skills were always influenced by shoegaze music for the most part but once he began to hear electronic music, he decided he needed an alternate route down the path that is a music career. He traded in his guitar for a turntable and started off doing mash ups with some of his close friends. Over the years, this amateur mash up artist would go on to become one of the up and coming trip hop musicians in the world. His music is much different though then your normal beat driven trip hop. Instead, he uses lots of basic instrumentation with a whirlwind of really pretty, funky electronic keys. Eighty One is Corrales' 4th full length album and it is by far his most critically recognized piece of work without question. The album shows off all Corrales' abilities both as a guitarist and as a music producer electronically. Most of the tracks off this album all combine multiple instruments to create a very bold and open atmosphere that is very jam worthy. The guitar is where this album sticks out for me as most of the tracks really follow the suit of the electric guitar rhythms and since it is such a leader, most songs work to keep up with it. Although this albums is trip hop in nature, it screams post-rock because of the atmospheric guitar that is the foundation of each track on here. Eighty One shows a really intriguing project that is really starting to blossom and take off. As good as Corrales is though, some of the material ends up feeling a bit too long and overhauled as the album comes in at close to 1 full hour. I feel as though I complain about this situation quite often with electronic music but especially with instrumental music, a time limit should always be stuck to in order to keep listeners surprised and interested. Bringing in close friend and violinist Anomie Belle was a great way to create some surreal moments of surprise but in the end the album still feels a bit too long. Corrales though, is obviously ready to be taken seriously by electronic music fans and he very well should be. Consider this album some top 50 material at least!
Emancipator – Soon It Will Be Cold Enough (2006):
Trip-hop has been one of my favorite genres in music for many years, probably since I first heard Massive Attack's Mezzanine back in 1998. People are always curious by this as I am not much of a fan of rap music but it really comes down to the complex beats and creative ingenuity put forth by a producer when creating something instrumental from complete scratch. In my honest opinion, there is absolutely nobody around in the world who is better at this then Emancipator whose human name is Doug Appling. Appling came out of nowhere in 2006 with his debut, self-released album, Soon It Will Be Cold Enough. The album sounded like it was created by a master of electronic beats or some kind of prodigy. When I discovered he was some 19 year old kid living in Oregon, I was blown away. His music was crafted similarly to that of Bonobo or the late Nujabes but it was better. Yes, better. Appling creates each of his tracks with an electronic landscape but isn't afraid to blend in live guitars, drums, violins, cellos, or even horns. He experiments with many different types of chill-out sounds especially in the jazz world and everything comes together so brilliantly that it is mind boggling. Soon It Will Be Cold Enough is arguably his best album ahead of his only other record Safe In The Steep Cliffs. On this album, his use of guest vocalist Thao Nguyen on the track "When I Go" ends up creating one of the all time greatest trip-hop songs I have ever had the pleasure to listen to. This album is filled to the brim with explosive downtempo music and I recommend it to just about anyone for it's chill-out style and perfection in the studio. Emancipator is the new king of trip-hop music and make sure you check out all his albums, including his forthcoming LP which has yet to be announced.
After a surprisingly 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!