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 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: Submotion Orchestra – Fragments
WEDNESDAY: Caspian – Waking Season
THURSDAY: The Laurels – Plains
FRIDAY: Sea Wolf – Old World Romance
SUNDAY: Calexico – Algiers
- Exceptional Records
- September 21, 2012
In my opinion, 2011 was the greatest year collectively that music has seen in about a decade. I know that most people are pretty against this statement as most of the big indie bands didn’t release anything last year, aside from Radiohead whose King Of Limbs LP was the weakest since their debut. When you look beyond the obvious though, 2011 saw terrific records from bands across the world who basically stayed underneath the radar all year. Submotion Orchestra happens to be one of those bands. Their debut album last year, entitled Finest Hour, was a record built around nu-jazz and downtempo electronic music. The airy female vocals delivered by Ruby Wood were sensational for the atmospheric, blue note sound the band was looking for. Overall, Finest Hour was a huge top 5 album surprise last year and I have continued to love the band ever since. Fragments is the brand new LP released last week by the band, almost a year later exactly from their debut. Submotion Orchestra has generally kept their sound in check but they have decided to experiment with more glitch driven electronic music on this record. The more precise dubstep on this album really does the band justice as the experimental functionality of each note ends up being both beautifully pleasant and very complex. The jazz rhythms haven’t exactly disappeared thankfully as the songs still follow a very old school jazz technique. Saxophones, trumpets and some gorgeously arranged pianos still fill every corner of each track as Ruby Wood continues to blow me away with her wistful vocal melodies. I think I liked the arrangements a bit more on the band’s debut album but the creativity that goes behind trying to make something more complex is pretty fascinating.
Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album, Pt. 1
- September 21, 2012
Lupe Fiasco has drawn a ton of negative criticism since the release of his 2011 album, Lasers. The record was a major leap backwards for Lupe as it didn’t quite capture the same sense of consciousness that his first two records contained. The album though, still had a few tracks that were very inspiring and some that were heartbreaking and very personal so for me, the record wasn’t a true fail. Lupe would end up discussing that the album was rushed by his label and that most of the tracks were basically remodeled and almost rewritten by producers from the label in order to obtain an image that they felt comfortable with. When listening to the album, it’s pretty apparent that these songs were generally re-crafted to fit that type of modern hip hop glimmer and glammer and it’s understandable that Lupe was pissed off and ready to leave Atlantic for an indie label. His concerns made headlines across the entire hip hop world and I think overall, fans showed support for him. Still though, there ended up being a lot of haters. The Great American Rap Album, Pt. 1 is the album that Lupe has wanted to release for almost 10 years now. It’s something that has been going on inside his head since he started writing music but somehow, the message the lyrics were sending just didn’t connect with his label and as a result, it’s been pushed off until 2012. The content of this album deals mostly with cultural issues. We have tracks discussing the issues behind the word “nigger” and even further, the problems Lupe has with modern day rappers using the word in a positive light somehow. We have other tracks discussing the demoralizing of women and others about inner city violence and hate along with crime. The album is just a storybook that shows Lupe getting words off his chest that have been in his mind for what seems like decades. I’m immediately in love with the concepts here as these songs are the exact opposite of what most modern rap seems to be about which has ultimately destroyed the genre. The entire black album sleeve was simple because Lupe wanted everyone to know that the content was about the music and not the art, black being decided on to represent his culture and how proud yet disappointed he was. This album may not be a masterpiece like his first two records, but it’s extremely culturally significant and one that just about everyone should sit down and listen to for it’s positive messages.
- Triple Crown Records
- August 31, 2012
Caspian has quietly become one of the most interesting post-rock bands in all of music since their debut album in 2007. Their atmospheric approach in quite gorgeous and very subtle as they combine elements of ambient music with some of the more sharp and rough edges of intense post-rock. Their sophomore LP Tertia ended up being one of my favorite albums in 2009 and contained a track that I think is quite possibly the most beautiful thing I have ever heard in “Epochs In Dmaj“. This combination of very layered ambient qualities with the climax of traditional, hard rocking post instrumentation just ends up being epically beautiful. The band’s newest release is Waking Season, an album that continues the same types of influences as seen on the band’s prior two albums. The tracks all revolve around some airy landscapes that leave some amazing room for powerful instrumentation. Although post-rock music usually suffers from seeming too dense and unoriginal, Caspian just knows how to delve into your soul and release your mind while on an incredibly spiritual journey. There is so much room on the canvas for Caspian to mess around with and come up with interesting, creative ideas and they do just that. Caspian is really starting to come into their own and I estimate that they will be one of the most significant bands within the post-rock world within a year or two, just watch.
- July 13, 2012
The Laurels are yet another young band from Australia who have just released their debut LP, Plains. I was immediately drawn into this band after hearing a few of their tracks during the summer. Their sound can be described as something like Swervedriver meets The Verve. The shoegaze format is really the spotlight on this album with plenty of distorted, heavy guitars and lots of pounding drums. The washed out vocals by frontman Piers Cornelius as well as some blended backing vocals by Luke O’Farrell really further define the overall sound of this album. The record sort of reminds me of those 90’s alternative albums out of Britain that were aiming for a shoegaze sound more so then actually being a shoegaze band. The genre was flooded with acts like these back in that decade and I think it kind of took the wind out of the sail that is shoegaze. The Laurels though, are trying to recapture that type of theme and to be honest, it’s actually quite good at times. I really enjoy some of the band’s energy but there are other times where songs break down and the band ends up sounding like an Oasis cover band. As a young band, I think The Laurels show some significant promise but I think their debut just misses the mark.
Old World Romance
- Dangerbird Records
- September 11, 2012
I first came across Sea Wolf, a six piece band led by singer/songwriter Alex Brown Church, with the release of their sophomore album White Water, White Bloom in 2009. The album didn’t contain any standout material but I heard a lot of positive things that went behind their folk pop sound. Church is the primary focus of this band as he pens all the song lyrics and really takes on face as the image of what the band represents. As a songwriter, Church is decent but all in all, his songs have always seemed safe. In other words, the themes of each story behind his lyrics has always stayed relatively the same and he’s never had the ability to venture outside of his comfort zone. When a musician, or artist in general, gets too comfortable and decides not to leave their comfort zone, the art tends to get a bit frail and much less interesting. In music, this is a major concern, especially within a genre like indie pop as so many bands are doing the exact same thing. It’s not easy to stand out in a crowd that is overpopulated with artists who stick to that very generic and almost stale sound that is indie pop. Sea Wolf has always suffered from this and things are really no different on their newest release, Old World Romance. Songs continue to employ the type of acoustic guitar driven ballad sound and simplistic arrangements around the guitar and vocals doesn’t add any type of color to an already black and white image. It’s all just so boring. Like most indie pop, sure there are some very catchy songs with some pretty nice melodies but the taste of sugary gum only lasts a few minutes before all the flavor has totally abandoned the stick, and that’s exactly what goes on here. Sea Wolf needs to find an identity of their own somehow to stand out in this crowd of musicians and until they do, I’m afraid that they are just going to remain just another song on pandora radio whose band name never gets out because everyone wants to listen to Fleet Foxes instead.
Mourning In America And Dreaming In Color
- Rhymesayers Entertainment
- September 18, 2012
Brother Ali is another conscious hip hop artist who has had a very quiet career but his albums have remained staples of the hip hop world for whatever year they were released in. He has only released a total of 5 albums since his debut in 2000 but each one has had incredibly strong lyrical concepts and the production done by his close friend Ant has always been fantastic. Although his career has remained under the radar somehow, most music fans have grown incredibly interested in his music as his songwriting is always very relevant to world issues and political issues. Ali, known by his real name Ali Newman, has always shown a lot of passion in his music, usually talking about his hard times growing up with the rare genetic condition of albinism which also caused blindness. Ali though, has never let these issues keep him down and in fact, he normally laughs at and makes fun of the media for even mentioning it (maybe I’m next?). Mourning In America And Dreaming In Color is the newest release by Ali and the issues he deals with on this record are obviously all domestic. The political themes are very engaging and incredibly intelligent while his rap flow just continues to be fantastic. I’ve always loved how Ali can really show you the pain and emotion in his lyrics by how he raps them and on this record, Ali actually slows down much of his rhymes in order to get him emotional points across and he does it brilliantly. This was also the first album without Any as a producer as he instead went with Jake One for a change in style. The beats are as good as ever here and although they are reminiscent of early 90’s hip hop, I really love that.
- September 11, 2012
Calexico has had a long and productive career since the band’s inception back in 1996. With over 15 albums and plenty of collaborations with other indie artists such as Iron & Wine, Calexico has garnered a pretty large fan base and has adopted a nice sound to go along with their identity as a band. Their music is basically americana folk ballads with plenty of pop influence. Most of their music is filled to the brim with overlapped acoustic guitars, spiritual harmonized vocals and some old western styled piano that comes and goes. Whenever I hear a Calexico album I feel like I’m trotting through the wild west on a horse as I enjoy a sunset on the horizon and that comes along with the type of sound they are going for. Algiers is the band’s newest album and although the music is quite nice most of the time, the absence of any real change in style has gotten to be too redundant for me. I understand that there are lots of fans of the band out there but after 15 albums, I feel like the band doesn’t have much else to offer then somber acoustic ballads. I do however, like the songwriting which is quite nostalgic and warm. I think Calexico fans will enjoy this record but as someone who hasn’t been entirely sold on them throughout the years, this record just seems like the same old, same old.
Tears For Fears
Songs From The Big Chair
- Mercury / Phenogram
- February 25, 1985
I know that most of you have probably heard at least a few of the tracks off this 80’s gem but I thought it would still be worth doing a mini review on. For those of you who haven’t heard any tracks by Tears For Fears then you most likely have never watched a film from the 80’s or decided not to see Donnie Darko (which is a terrific film might I add). Tears For Fears joined Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith back in 1981 and the two would end up creating this standout album that I’m sure will never be forgotten about. The album, Songs From The Big Chair, was the band’s best, a synth pop masterpiece that has been kept alive by fans all across the world even today. Songs like “Shout”, “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” and “Head Over Heels” have remained staple songs of the 1980’s and all three were found off this record. Although I don’t think this album was the best of the 1980’s as The Smiths and The Cure both headlined the entire decade with terrific records, Songs From The Big Chair continues to be the record I love the most. The album is all about these perfect pop songs that are led by some terrific songwriting and exceptional vocal deliveries by both front men. Instrumentally, this album was terrific too though as guitars and pianos paved the way for some really nice, early electronic programming and well designed drum patterns. This is just a full out fun 80’s pop record that I think any music fan should be acquainted with if they aren’t already.
Albums To Look Forward To Next Week:
- With Joyful Lips – Oneironautics
- Frightened Rabbit – State Hospital
- This Patch Of Sky – Newly Risen, How Brightly You Shine
- GOOD Music – Cruel Summer
- Ringo Deathstarr – Mauve
- Ormonde – Machine
- A Whisper In The Noise – To Forget
After another good 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!