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: Passion Pit – Gossamer
TUESDAY: Glen Hansard – Rhythm And Repose
WEDNESDAY: Matisyahu – Spark Seeker
THURSDAY: Fang Island – Major
FRIDAY: Port St. Willow – Holiday
SATURDAY: Claire De Lune – New Lion
THROWBACK: Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career (2009)
7.8 / 10
Passion Pit is an electronic, alternative band from Cambridge, MA that formed in 2007. Their sound followed in the footsteps of a band like MGMT but Passion Pit grasps a more pop influenced sound that forms around their electronic instrumentation. Their debut record, Manners, was released in 2009 to some critical acclaim and the fans have been pouring in ever since. What's interesting to note about their music is that lyrically, the songs tell very dark tales while the music surrounding the vocals is the exact opposite. The songs have always been dance friendly and it takes away from the darkness that lead singer Michael Angelakos is singing about. You knew that behind the scenes, Angelakos wasn't quite as happy as the instrumentation might make him sound. Passion Pit's new album Gossamer follows suite with the debut but that darkness has caught up with the band. Lyrically, the conflicts in each song are even darker on this record as Angelakos proves just how emotional he is behind the drapes. Although the music continues this idea of positive, dance friendly tracks, we're also seeing them grip onto these depressing song lyrics. On the surface, Gossamer is not nearly as fun as Manners but these ideas of human, emotional concepts just shows a band that is human after all. We definitely get a strong sense of the emotional stress behind Angelakos' life and you have to give him credit for having the confidence to share all these very personal thoughts with us. As Passion Pit was set to begin their worldwide tour next month, they were forced to cancel it because of Angelakos who was mentally unable. Although this is sad news, it obviously proves the truth behind these dark lyrical concepts.
7.3 / 10
Glen Hansard has had a long career within the music industry. This is a guy who quit school at age 13 to perform guitar on the street of his home city of Dublin, Ireland. When he reached his 20’s in the 1990s, he formed the Irish punk group The Frames who would eventually become a staple for Irish music. In 2006, he starred in the Irish film Once alongside Markéta Irglová, a Czech singer/songwriter who has played piano since age 8. Together, the pair formed The Swell Season, a folk duo that revolved around acoustic guitar and piano. The film went on to become an indie success, winning an Oscar for best song with the duo’s single “Falling Slowly”. Their debut record remained successful along with the film and they would eventually release a sophomore LP in 2009. Hansard had always been interested in releasing a solo record and he decided that it was time. Rhythm And Repose is his first record as a solo artist and although the music shares many characteristics with The Swell Season’s style, it is definitely a more intimate and personal approach to Hansard’s songwriting. The lyrics seem to revolve around a breakup although Hansard has stated that this relationship is of more general dissent, whether it’s a relationship with a girl, with God, or with one’s self. Whatever the case, the tracks off this album are definitely a bit melodramatic but they also carry a certain sense of pride and maturity. This record lacks any relevant attributes that make a terrific folk record as good as it is, but this album is surely a nice listen for pop music fans and it’s very nice to see Hansard coming out of his shell finally.
2.1 / 10
Last year, Matisyahu shaved off his homeless man beard and trimmed the hair on his head. He went from being a hardcore believer in Hasidic Judaism to finding a relaxed and more easy going relationship with life. It’s been quite a transformation as we all remember him as being the Jewish, reggae rapper with plenty of religious concepts that he wanted to discuss to the death. If you really think about what his career has been, it’s basically just been built around a certain image that is terribly rare within the hip hop genre. His albums have never really been that good although I still do enjoy his debut live record, Live At Stubb’s which contained that single “King Without A Crown”. I always saw him more as the Phish of the hip hop world than anything else as he combined some really fun elements of reggae music but it never really translated on the studio albums. Spark Seeker is Matisyahu’s first album since 2009’s Light and the record shows a massive change in musical dynamic. The lyrics aren’t overflowing with religious concepts and the beats are far less reggae oriented than ever before. Verse for verse, I don’t think I could be any more disappointed with a final product for a rap record as these songs seem more like teen pop tracks then hip hop tracks. This is probably ultimately due to Kool Kojak, a producer who has also worked with acts like Ke$ha. This unfortunate blending of electronic music beats and some subtle Israeli horns that sound terribly out of place just ends up sounding like a sloppy mess. I’m unfortunately reminded of some of those terrible Shaggy singles from the late 90’s and early 2000’s. In the end, Spark Seeker seems more like a case of mistaken identity than a record built around creative ideas.
5.8 / 10
Fang Island’s sophomore, self-titled LP really opened up the floodgates for them. Their debut record showed a band with potential but Fang Island showed a structured math rock band making monstrous punk rock anthems. Major is the band’s follow up to their hyped up second album and it shows a band going in the opposite direction they once were headed. Major is an album built around really generic punk songs. Almost every track revolves around your average power chord progression mixed with some rather bland pop formats. While Fang Island was a record for high fiving and just having a good time, Major is flawed in that it tries to hard to outdo the later. For the most part, these songs sound like they were uprooted from any one of the thousands of teen party comedies from the early 2000’s and remastered with very poor effort. The redeeming qualities are few and far between but there are moments of what makes Fang Island stand out, such as a really nice sequence of reverbed guitar chords on “Make Me” or a really chaotic melody mixed with some nice vocals on “Chime Out”. Really though, this album is just way too oversimplified and loses that high fiving, intense energy that the band’s prior albums contained.
8.1 / 10
Port St. Willow is the solo project of Nick Principe, a young and ambitious musician who is now settled in Brooklyn, New York. Holiday is Principe’s debut fell length album after a short EP released in 2010. Holiday was recorded over the course of an entire year after a move to Oregon and the music really identifies with how you might picture the landscape there. The concepts on this record circle around love, loss, family, and lonesomeness as Principe seems torn at the heart throughout most of these tracks. The idea of moving from the big city to widespread nature does give off this idea of being terribly isolated and alone which is what this record seems to be going for. Even the music, which borrows blends of slowcore, post-rock, ambient and even some folk qualities, gives us a subtle hint at this longing to be reinserted into society. Principe doesn’t seem depressed however, he’s just more or less lost in the wilderness and although he loves the beauty and elegance of vast tree lines, he can’t help but miss his roots in the city. This record is actually one of the most surprisingly good records of the year for me as the moods of the tracks really mesh well together. Principe has a very subtle way of intimately connecting with his listeners and as he shows off this human, emotional distress, we are really able to share his longing with him as if we were right there in the room with him.
6.3 / 10
Claire De Lune is a R&B artist who is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. New Lion is her debut album and it shows a very confident, young artist who leaves it all on out on the table. the EP is made up of 7 tracks and finishes in 22 minutes but the songs somehow seem longer and more drawn out. A few of the tracks off this record really caught my attention such as "Declaration" and "It's Real" as they show off Lune's ability as a soul singer. The beats off this record all revolve around downtempo rhythms but there are some really interesting funk guitar sections as well as some neo pop elements that sound rather nostalgic. I really love the combination of all these different genres and the chilled out tempo really relies on the focus of Lune's blue note vocals. She is a very soulful singer and she sounds best with these downtempo beats especially when you fuse in a piano or electric guitar to fill in the gaps. The points that I didn't like this album existed on some really out of place hip-hop verses that weren't necessary and also didn't show any signs of true talent. I would have been much happier if Lune had kept this record as an individual performance instead of bringing in any collaborators. These rap verses also took away from her talent and hurt the flow of the record as a whole. Lune though, is definitely worth the listen and she shows signs of a promising future for sure.
5.6 / 10
I've got to be honest, Natural Snow Buildings have always been very hit-or-miss for me. The French duo, made up of Mehdi Ameziane and Solange Gularte, have been releasing albums since 1999 but they've been doing so in bulk. Since 2008 alone, they have released 16 full length records, most of which sound relatively the same. That ambient, drone sound can only stay interesting for so long and even though I love ambient music, it's hard to stay interested in a band's material when they just release records nonstop. Over the course of their career, they have had some amazing releases such as 2009's Shadow Kingdom and 2006's The Dance Of The Moon And The Sun but when you release as many records as they have, the bland tends to overshadow the good. Beyond The Veil is actually the sole release from the band in 2012 and it's a very limited release. The CD-R, which is almost impossible to find right now to purchase, is a lengthy free folk record that uses the band's trademark ambient sound as a platform. Like all their other releases, Natural Snow Buildings continue to use a very haunting and almost disturbing atmosphere to focus their music on but it's all getting relatively old at this point. Don't get me wrong, this duo is one of the most talented bands within the entire ambient music genre but it's just getting to a point where enough is enough. Some of the tracks off this record are incredibly gorgeous and hauntingly beautiful but with 16 releases in 4 years, it's hard for me to give a limited release like this one a high score.
8.9 / 10
Camera Obscura is a Scottish band that probably needs no introduction for any of you indie fans. The band has only released 4 full length records since their inception in 2001 but with every record, they have continued to progress. Lead songwriter and singer Tracyanne Campbell has used her personal life as much of the focus for the band's lyrics. My Maudlin Career was an album that was built around love songs focused on a failed relationship and although the lyrics are mostly bitter and depressing, the band somehow is able to lift your spirits with some very pretty pop song structures. Campbell has always been a pretty brilliant songwriter but the fact that she continues to open up windows into her soul for us to look through is just a very intimate thing. These songs are all very easy to connect with since just about all of us have had our heart broken at some point in our lives which makes this album very accessible for anybody looking for a shoulder to lean on. In my opinion, Camera Obscura is one of the best indie pop bands in the world right now and I look forward to a possible new album in 2013. We'll see what kind of ride Campbell takes us on with that record!
Albums To Look For Next Week:
- Shawn Lee – Synthesizers In Heaven
- The Antlers – Undersea
- Family Of The Year – Loma Vista
- Mouse On The Keys – Machinic Phylum
- Astra – The Black Chord
- Film Ghost – Subterraneans
- Carrousel – 27 Rue De Mi'Chelle
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!