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: Bat For Lashes – The Haunted Man
TUESDAY: Sun Airway – Soft Fall
WEDNESDAY: Hidden Orchestra – Archipelago
THURSDAY: Ultraista – Ultraista
FRIDAY: Benjamin Gibbard – Former Lives
SATURDAY: Letka – Far Off Country
SUNDAY: Pinback – Information Retrieved
THROWBACK: M83 – Hurry Up, We're Dreaming (2011)
Bat For Lashes
The Haunted Man
- October 12, 2012
With her latest release, Natasha Khan has truly gone bare bones. Khan, known as Bat For Lashes, has now released three full length LP's up to this point. With her first two albums, Khan had immediate success both with critics and fans and her growing popularity since her first album is truly deserved. She is much more than just an artsy pop musician as she is able to blend together all of the joyous pop anthems we all like with a more diverse type of folk music that is incredibly creative and well written. The Haunted Man is definitely a continuation of these influences although I am hearing a lot more stripped down electronics then what we had heard on Khan's first two records. The beats are kind of back and forth from being very dynamic and well accompanied to being a bit less edgy and not as well inspired. This was ultimately sort of a let down for me as I had never been bored during any of Khan's music before. On the upside though, her songwriting has continued to blossom and we are really getting a strong glimpse into the emotional outpouring soul of Khan with this record, maybe more so here then ever before. With this album, Khan wanted everything to be raw and very feminine while sticking to a tough, independent exterior. The album art shows this perfectly and even goes as far as not including a single bit of color nor does Khan even wear a single piece of makeup. This is all the major opposite of her last album Two Suns which was filled with color and elegance to a true max. Like the album art, the music itself is stripped down to its most basic for the most part but we are still blessed with the incredibly feminine and strong presence of Khan herself.
- Dead Oceans
- September 28, 2012
Sun Airway is the collaboration between synth pop artists Jon Barthmus and Patrick Marsceill. The project started in 2008 and has now produced two full length LP's as well as a few EP's. Soft Fall is the title of their newest record and it shows off a wide variety of synth pop characteristics as well as sticking to an overall chillwave type of sound. Where this album really stands out is in the production as both Barthmus and Marsceill are making some very complex beats that sustain a certain level of lounge flavor while also being dance friendly. Musically, this album was quite good with plenty of different dimensions included within the wide array of instrumental characteristics. For example, the violins and orchestral additions included within the finale track were a total surprise and something that almost brought the album around in full circle. Whereas most chillwave musicians stick to a one route path of electronics and lounge driven sounds, Sun Airway finds ways to add in some more diverse contributions to help make their music stand out in a crowd. Songs like "Activity 3" and "Wild Palms" were some of the coolest beats I've heard all year in indie music. Although I wasn't crazy about the vocal contributions or the lyrical aspirations, I think that the music that sits in the forefront of each song is enough to help spotlight this album. Sun Airway will most likely go under the radar this year but don't let that stop you from discovering these beat makers.
- Tru Thoughts Records
- October 9, 2012
Hidden Orchestra is a new band that is blending old jazz ideas together with more contemporary downtempo structures. The band first came into public eye through Bandcamp in 2010 with their debut release, Night Walks. As a big fan of this nu-jazz style of music, I was extremely excited to hear that record a few years ago but after a handful of listens, I was left feeling a bit dissatisfied. One thing's for sure, this quartet is very gifted as jazz musicians and they use this ability to demonstrate exactly how to play the style of music to damn near perfection, but on the other hand, the music ends up being quite motionless and without much spark of life. Going into their follow-up LP Archipelago, I was hoping that things might have come to fruition since their debut. To be honest though, things haven't significantly changed at all. On the band's newest record, the music is once again all driven by 1950's jazz structures with plenty of horns, violins, chimes, and piano. Some of these tracks are quite remarkable for this revival quality such as "Flight" and "Seven Hunters", but for the most part, the songs on this record end up growing too tiresome. Although I am no jazz genius, I know that great jazz music always contained a lifeblood or something that added some pep to its step. Jazz music should be fun and bright with plenty of color. I think what Hidden Orchestra is going for is something far more complicating as they almost seem to be going for a more atmospheric, ambient style of nu-jazz music but after all, I just can't seem to connect with the ideas being put forth. I do think this album is a step up from the band's debut as the jazz instrumentals are much more intriguing and interesting but I just don't think this album will be as genre changing as many critics are making it out to be.
- Temporary Residence Ltd.
- October 2, 2012
Most of us have come to love Nigel Godrich as the famed producer behind Radiohead's massive and deserving success over the last 15+ years. As Radiohead evolved from being just an ordinary alternative band on Pablo Honey to being an experimental powerhouse with Kid A and then being an oddly masked dubstep hybrid on King Of Limbs, Nigel was there. It's hard to imagine that Radiohead's sound is anything but what the band itself was going for but now hearing Godrich's new band Ultraista, it's apparent that some of those later musical ideas are obviously present on this album. The self titled debut is a combination of glitchy electronic beats, some dreamy psychedelic vocals delivered by Laura Bettinson and some more alternative derived drum structures by Joey Waronker. After going through this album a few times, I have grown a bit frustrated with this album as Godrich definitely seems better suited to be a producer then a songwriter himself. Although I'm sure Godrich has massive input from the producer booth, these songs are too littered with video game sounding electronics. Bettinson does deliver some nice vocal melodies but the electronics for the most part are just messy and don't seem to have much substance. After hearing their debut track "Bad Insect" a few months ago, I was very excited and hopeful for this album but for the most part, these tracks just can't stay consistent and it almost seems like Godrich is trying too hard to be experimental then trying to create interesting electronic songs.
- Barsuk Records
- October 16, 2012
Benjamin Gibbard has had a successful career as an indie musician, especially as the frontman for Death Cab For Cutie and also co member of The Postal Service. For years now, his voice has been a very popular characteristic within the indie community as his fan base has grown beyond the independent network. It was only a matter of time that Gibbard would release a solo effort, putting all of his own, personal ideas together for a record of his own. Problem is, Gibbard is one of the most one-dimensional artists in all of indie music and really, his music shouldn't even be considered indie any longer. Although he has released some pretty great albums in the past (and I mean long ago), Gibbard has really balanced out over time to be your generic, acoustic guitarist whose lyrics are all just pop oriented. Some of the lyrics on this solo record are especially teen drama and remind me of some of those shit songs you might here over a chick flick teen romance movie.
The ideas put forth on this album are totaly immature, especially for an artist who has been making albums for as long as Gibbard has. I understand that solo efforts are normally more concise effort then what the full band would put forward but Former Lives just sounds like an acoustic version of b sides from Narrow Stairs. Gibbard makes some attempts at creative ideas like on the track "Something's Rattling (Cowpoke)" where a Mexican styled instrumental takes over the acoustic guitar but seriously? Why? As you grow older and obtain more background within different styles of music, it's natural to phase out certain artists as they become yesterday's news or maybe you just finally realize that they just weren't that good to begin with. I think Gibbard is a prime example of this and Former Lives is physical proof.
Far Off Country
- Burning Shed
- January 16, 2012
Letka is a duo formed by vocalist Sandra O'Neill and instrumentalist Peter Chilvers. Far Off Country is the duo's debut record and was released by one of my personal favorite labels, Burning Shed. I had come across this album by chance while trying to find some nice ambient music to relax to. This album, although not exactly an ambient record, does contain some very atmospheric sections that closely relate to an ambient style but when it comes down to it, this album is actually more like an adult contemporary record. The instrumentals are all very beautifully put together as Chilvers adds some harmonious strings, subtle electric guitar sections and plenty of somber piano chords and it all matches very effortlessly with O'Neill's pleasant vocal harmonies. Her strong voice is really where this album takes off from as she sings some incredibly strong notes that actually remind me of a more country styled singer. This was a pretty odd voyage for me with this album as the genre is something I never would have thought I'd give a chance to but because it included the ambient characteristic, I accidentally fell into it and I was pleasantly surprised by it. This is a very somber record with plenty of heart wrenching melodies and dreary atmospheres and these emotional conflicts are really brought to life here. This is a very good debut record by this combination of veteran musicians.
- Temporary Residence Ltd.
- October 15, 2012
Pinback is another band who I used to listen to a lot back in the early 2000's. The duo is made up of Rob Crow and Armistead Burwell Smith IV and they have been making music under the Pinback moniker since 1998. Although many fans will maintain that they are a progressive band, Pinback is far from it. They have always been more of an alternative band with some really creative guitar sections which is where their identity always came from. Information Retrieved is the band's first album since 2007's Autumn Of The Seraphs, a record that really showed a major step backwards in the career for the band. After thinking about my stance on the band though, I've ultimately decided that really, if you've heard a Pinback album then you've already heard them all. The band never evolved after their debut and the same old guitar driven indie rock anthems they continuously put together have since grown to be kind of pathetic really. At times, they almost sound like a teenage garage rock band with no backing producer and this problem is very transparent on this latest record. The duo still does employ some interesting electric guitar licks but for the most part, these songs are now just fruity bubble gum pop instead of alternative. Another huge issue with this album is within the songwriting as it seems Crow has absolutely nothing interesting to say and honestly, I don't think he ever did. In the end, this album ended up being what I figured it would be, a major let down.
Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
- October 18, 2011
As a New York Jets fan, it's hard to really be positive about much football and for someone who loves the sport as much as I do, that's incredibly depressing. After a self-destructing loss to the rival Patriots on Sunday afternoon, I have to admit my heart was pretty broken. What's great is that there is always a band such as M83 to turn to when you need a little happiness kicked back in you. I chose Hurry Up, We're Dreaming at the last-minute last night as I just needed to hear the incredible, epic beauty that it releases. After years of being one of the most intriguing electronic, ambient projects around, Anthony Gonzalez decided to switch gears for his Saturdays=Youth album in 2008. On that record, M83 focused more so on 80's styled pop music but also continued to use plenty of the electronic instrumentation that got them there in the first place. The album ended up being a personal favorite of mine and also a critically acclaimed album entirely. Gonzalez had created this world within the album, a story about himself going into a deep sleep and dreaming about the woman he had so dearly loved when he was in high school. The story was remarkable on that album and as he fights for his girl, he ultimately succumbs to awakening from this incredible dream at the end.
Hurry Up, We're Dreaming is a direct sequel to that story-line. Gonzalez has learned how to control his dreams and is able to go into this dream world of his to rediscover his true love. As he finds her, he finally conquers this dream and ultimately gets the girl in the end. The story is just incredibly epic and full of these gorgeous moments and the fact that M83 was able to make this double album seem so concise and almost perfect just totally blows me away. Gonzalez has always been an amazing musician but his newly discovered sense of songwriting has really taken the spotlight on his newest records. M83 is quite possibly the biggest band in the world today and after two massively successful and imaginative records, I really cannot wait to see where Gonzalez takes his project next.
Albums To Look Forward To Next Week:
- Little People – We Are But Hunks Of Wood
- Fort Atlantic – Fort Atlantic
- Hammock – Departure Songs
- Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d. city
- Tamaryn – Tender New Signs
- Tall Ships – Everything Touching
- Bad Books – II
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!