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: Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
TUESDAY: Poolside – Pacific Standard Time
THURSDAY: Crozet – We'll Be Gone By Then
FRIDAY: Lemongrass – Papillon
SATURDAY: Work Drugs – Absolute Bearing
THROWBACK: Sunfold – Toy Tugboats (2008)
7.3 / 10
In 2011, R&B music became relevant again due to the rise of both Frank Ocean and The Weeknd. Although both artists are different styles of the genre, they both share an experimental nature when it comes to their music rather than the same old, same old. Frank Ocean, who is my personal favorite member of the Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All collective, released his debut mixtape Nostalgia, ULTRA last year to some praising reviews. On that mixtape, which was made free to the public, Ocean made compelling beats to go along with some fantastic songwriting and the excellent samples from songs like "Hotel California" and "Strawberry Swing" were just a perfect topping to go along with it. I became a huge fan of Ocean as his music even grew on me more so then The Weeknd's and I was obviously excited to hear his debut LP released this month, Channel Orange. This album started with a statement from Ocean claiming his bisexuality and that he was "in love with a man" who has yet to be identified. After this statement, I was expecting to hear a lot more changes in his lyrics especially the songs with a subject of "her" switched to a "him", but this is actually not the case. Only a few times does this occur and actually, more often than not there isn't a subject referred to. This was an ultimate surprise for me as I was hoping to hear Ocean speak from his heart more like he did on his mixtape but it seems like he is holding back on this record. The biggest song on this album is without a doubt the drawn out "Pyramids" and although this song is terrific for about the first 6 minutes, it really starts to grow old soon after. Nothing significantly progresses in this song and if you're making a track as long as 10 minutes, you better have some tricks up your sleeve that will keep your listeners surprised and interested but Ocean fails to do that on this track. Ocean still shows his impressive songwriting skills though and his experimental edge is all over this album which is a much more ambitious project then his mixtape. In the end though, I just fully enjoy Nostalgia, ULTRA more then Channel Orange but this album still shows a progression in Ocean's career to a more complex musician.
7.7 / 10
Earlier this summer, we were hit with one of the most perfect "relax by the pool" songs I think I have ever heard, "Slow Down". The track was a single from Poolside's debut LP Pacific Standard Time and it showed a pair of electronic musicians making a perfect progression into a more chillwave styled sound. They also include a really unique style of nu-disco and 80's styled synth pop music. Poolside's debut album is an ambitious one to say the least, coming in at a whopping 72 minutes in length. If you are a fan of chillwave music you should know how out of character this attribute is as chillwave records normally tend to be shorter in length than most other records. This epic length was a bit intimidating but as I put the record on, I found myself enjoying it so much that I had forgotten about it entirely. The songs here all carry a pool side vibe or a sunny day beach vibe, making this album one of the best summer records I have heard in quite a while. The chilled out nature of this album is extremely relaxing but at the same time I could imagine some of these tracks being featured at some kind of nighttime party somewhere on the coastline. Poolside really stands out to me as far as chillwave artists go and although they aren't quite as good as Washed Out, I think they are going to be a very significant piece of the chillwave movement. In the end, I definitely think that the length of this album is a little bit disengaging. After you finish listening to the record, it's highly likely that you will forget much of the material from the first half which is ultimately too bad. Really though, that's the only significant weakness I see on this record and for a band to be a bit overly ambitious isn't really a true problem in my book.
6.6 / 10
The Boats are an ambient group from the United Kingdom who have been making very melodic, ambient gems since 2004. They have always had a very interesting personality especially when they claimed that their first album, entitled Songs By The Sea, was written by the ocean and found by them washed ashore. Their mysterious qualities have always translated to pretty solid albums and experimental tracks though and ambient fans have always enjoyed their music. Ballads Of The Research Department is the band's newest full length and not only does it contain their normal routine of melody within ambient music, but it also employs a modern classical background. The instrumentation on this record is dreamy and extremely peaceful with plenty of violins, chimes, acoustic instruments, and angelic vocals. I really enjoy the ethereal soundscapes on here which seem so thought-provoking and refreshing as far as ambient albums go. The record does tend to drift a little bit and I think most people will probably tag this album as just another ambient record because at times it does tend to be a bit generic. I always say that I can understand why people who aren't fans of the genre might think ambient music is boring but in my opinion, it's just such a deep and thought-provoking genre that I get a little upset by these comments. This album is most likely best suited as something to listen to warm by your fireplace which is a little out of place at the moment, but surely, The Boats have done it again.
6.3 / 10
Upon listening to Crozet for a first time, it's extraordinarily hard to believe that it was a computer based musical project created by John Helmuth during his senior year of college. While most students are binge drinking or studying until they fall asleep, Helmuth decided to spend most of his time making electronics based, pop music on his laptop. Once the project got going, he added his friend Sean Lee to the mix in order to bring in some extra influence. We'll Be Gone By Then is the duo's debut album and for the most part, this record bleeds 80's synth pop. The tracks on this record are quite colorful as Helmuth shows off his amateur abilities at the helm of electronics, creating some flavorful beats with reverb drenched vocal layers. The chillwave factor does play a major role on this album as Crozet goes for a Teen Daze style of M83 pop music and in the end, it's a really fun device. At time this album shows it's weaknesses which mainly lay on the production side of things but this album is surely a fun listen from start to end, creating an illusion that you are right in the middle of a John Holmes romantic comedy.
3.4 / 10
If you are a fan of electronic music in general, you probably are familiar with Roland Voss, the visionary behind Lemongrass. If you haven't heard of Voss, he is one of the visionaries that have helped downtempo music become what it is today. He's been making albums under the Lemongrass moniker since 1998 and for the most part, his albums have always been ahead of their particular times. Voss, a German born music producer, isn't necessarily among the greatest downtempo musicians ever but he surely deserves to be recognized as one of the genre's innovators. Papillon is Voss' 14th studio LP and it shows an electronics music veteran producer whose ideas are aging. This album uses a lot of the same devices as his other material, especially jazz music. Ideas though on this record, run dry very quickly. A few tracks such as the opener "Flot D'amour" or "Riddle" have some really interesting themes musically but even these tracks just cannot hold an edge like early career Lemongrass once did. I think Voss is in a situation as an older producer, where he now just seems to be making elevator music or tracks for a video game such as Need For Speed. The songs are bright and overly simplified with what seems like zero passion behind them.
4.2 / 10
Work Drugs are a chillwave band from Philadelphia who have just released their fourth LP in two years, Absolute Bearing. The trio, made up of Benjamin Louisiana, Thomas Crystal, and Joan Wellfleet, create a pretty accessible sound on their new record, blending together a very beach worthy chillwave style with some dream pop qualities as well. Musically, this band is pretty gifted as they wind up creating some really nice instrumentals with plenty of nice drum tracks, reverbed guitar and some modest keyboards. Where this album really takes its free fall is in the vocals and lyrical content. The vocals end up making this album seem like a high school chillwave band that is recording some demo tracks in their dirty garage while the lyrics serve almost no significance either. You can tell that this band doesn't really have much ability at storytelling as almost every track comes across as a crappy, modern pop song as if Justin Bieber just stepped up to try writing songs for a chillwave band. Word Drugs is still a young group and they have some abilities with their instruments but I'm afraid if they do not find a better songwriter with more important things to say and also a vocalist with some talent, this band might see the end of their existence sooner than later.
7.5 / 10
It's so refreshing to see musicians from bands that aren't exactly the cream of the crop focus on solo projects that are full of ambition. Right Away, Great Captain! is an example of one of these moments as it is a solo project by Andy Hull, frontman for the alternative rock group, Manchester Orchestra. Hull has always been a decent songwriter but Manchester Orchestra never showed to what extent that ability ended up at. Instead, Manchester Orchestra has always ended up being your average indie alternative group and nothing has ever truly sounded unique at all. As a side project though, Hull has been exploring his folk roots since about 2004. His first solo record was released in 2007 and another was released in 2008. The Church Of The Good Thief is Hull's third solo LP and the last in his trilogy about a wayward sailor who discovers that his wife is having an affair with his own brother. The tale seems a bit dramatic and boring when said like that but it's actually quite captivating and moving. Each record sheds different light on the situation but The Church Of The Good Thief starts out with our protagonist murdering his own brother to pay for his sin. The rest of he album deals with his struggling mind after the incident and we are given a great opportunity to feel for him and suffer with him. Musically, this album is a contemporary folk record with plenty of acoustic guitars and soulful singing by Hull and his songwriting is fantastic. After hearing the entire trilogy this week for the first time, I'm actually quite surprised by his abilities as a folk artist especially in his storytelling. I wish he would just focus all his energy on this rather than going back to his squandered band.
8.6 / 10
If you are an indie music fan, I assume that you are familiar with the band Annuals, an indie folk group that formed in North Carolina in 2004. Annuals have seen some moderate success but in my opinion are fairly underrated especially among the indie circuit. Many people are unfamiliar with Annuals' sister group, Sunfold. Sunfold includes basically the same members as Annuals but all the songwriting is headed by Annuals' lead guitarist, Kenny Florence. Florence is a superb guitarist and a very decent songwriter and on his band's debut LP Toy Tugboats, we get to experience all the different influences that have played a role in his musical background. Unlike Annuals, Sunfold experiments with all sorts of different genres from pop music to jazz and from progressive to folk. There are even some sections on this record that revolve around some subtle electronics. Overall, this album really caught my attention in 2008 for being so open to varieties of different types of music. Along with some terrific band play, this album ends up proving that Florence is more than just a solid guitarist. Among all the members of both these bands, Florence is the most musically gifted and possibly the band's best songwriter. To me, it's extremely bizarre to label Sunfold as a side project as this band setup seems better than Annuals and in the end, Toy Tugboats is the best recording they have put out to date. A very lost gem in the crowded year of 2008 music for sure.
Albums To Look Forward To Next Week:
- Passion Pit – Gossamer
- Fang Island – Major
- Matisyahu – Spark Seeker
- Glen Hansard – Rhythm And Repose
- Port St. Willow – Holiday
- Claire De Lune – New Lion
- Natural Snow Buildings – Beyond The Veil
After another interesting 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 and please support these terrific bands!