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.
TUESDAY: Tamaryn – Tender New Signs
WEDNESDAY: Little People – We Are But Hunks Of Wood
THURSDAY: Fort Atlantic – Fort Atlantic
FRIDAY: Bad Books – II
SATURDAY: Tall Ships – Everything Touching
SUNDAY: Hammock – Departure Songs
THROWBACK: Elliott Smith – Either/Or (1997)
good kid, m.A.A.d city
- October 22, 2012
The Polaroid-photo-turned-album-cover here for Kendrick Lamar‘s sophomore album good kid, m.A.A.d. city really tells it all for this record. Lamar even refers to the album as a short film, citing it as a biographical piece as he is the small child sitting around with some family members whose faces have all been blacked out. Lamar is from an incredibly harsh ghetto in Compton where staying out of trouble while growing up was a serious chore. As a 25-year-old, he has seen so much violence and hatred already in his young years thanks to his hometown and this was a primary influence for his newest album. The record follows Lamar through his struggles growing up from childhood to his teen years. The songs all focus on gang violence, murder, drugs, and womanizing, all through the eyes of the young, innocent eyes of Lamar. At first glance, these lyrics and themes really seem to be disturbingly cliché for a west coast rapper, but once you get an idea of where exactly Lamar is coming from, this story ends up being incredibly touching. This is easily one of the greatest records of 2012 and it all comes down to Lamar’s sense of intelligence as he gives us a glimpse into a world that nobody should ever have to overcome.
Tender New Signs
- Kemado Records
- October 16, 2012
Tamaryn is an ethereal shoegaze duo consisting of Tamaryn Brown and Rex John Shelverton. After the release of their debut album The Waves in 2010, Tamaryn had accumulated a nice following of fans. Tamaryn’s old-fashioned style of dreamy shoegaze music was something that was easy for fans of the genre to grab onto, and even though the album didn’t progress the genre, it helped revitalize it. Tender New Signs is the band’s sophomore attempt and they seem to have really soaked into their influences. Tender New Signs is primarily the same type of album as The Waves but the music is much more aggressive and loud. Brown’s self-harmonized vocals continue to help the record flow while Shelverton adds some stadium-styled guitar rocking to the mix. As a result of the truly massive sound on this record, everything seems much more heavy. Brown’s vocal contributions are a bit less airy as they were on the debut as she is overshadowed by the distorted guitars and banging drums and even though the guitars are a lot more dynamic then ever before, they still tend to bore me by side B of this album. It all generally sounds the same from track to track and I think Brown is a major suspect for its cause as she doesn’t change key or tone almost at all. Melodies sort of get totally lost on this record and the nonchalant, monotone sound just ends up being very uninteresting.
We Are But Hunks Of Wood
- Youth & Progress Recordings
- October 9, 2012
It has been 6 years since we’ve last heard from Laurent Clerc, a.k.a. Little People. His debut was a major success in the world of electronic downtempo music and it really catapulted him to the top of the V.I.P. list, not just in 2006 but in general among musicians within that genre. Just about everybody had heard his tracks during that time and with a huge cult following, it was suspected that he would drop a follow up sooner rather then later. Problem was, it never happened. Clerc sort of disappeared from the face of the Earth for a good while, although he did play some casual live shows here and there, especially in 2011 to promote his newest record We Are But Hunks Of Wood. The album comes after a long absence from any new recordings by Clerc and has been stirring up tons of anxiousness among fans. However, the follow up definitely shows an artist who has been out of the game for one too many years. Unlike his debut record, We Are But Hunks Of Wood suffers from not having many mind-chilling beats. For the most part, these songs are pretty good, but they don’t show off a tremendous amount of creativity for an artist who has had more then enough time to compose countless new tracks since 2006. Sophomore albums are always difficult as the expectations grow exceedingly and especially for an artist who has been M.I.A. for so long, this album is overall underwhelming.
- May 29, 2012
Jon Black, the man behind solo project Fort Atlantic, is an interesting character. His music spans a wide variety of different types of indie music from folk to country western and from southern rock to more traditional alternative. His self-titled LP was released back in May and in order to obtain more media attention for the album’s drop date, he and his label went ahead and released the record on a limited edition Nintendo cartridge. Really? I mean, it’s a decently cool idea, I guess, but I like to purchase my albums on vinyl, not on an NES cartridge. The idea seemed to work, stirring up both controversy and excitement among music fans. Old school Nintendo fans, however, found the release to be a total waste of a perfectly good NES cartridge. Okay, nerds, relax. The record did pick up a pretty decent-sized following immediately after the initial release and Black’s oddball idea seemed to work. The content of the album, though, is anything but interesting. You can tell that Black has some very generic influences as much of this album either sounds like Band Of Horses messing around with Blitzen Trapper or The Decemberists playing their most basic songs with a sole acoustic guitar. At times, Black seems very original, such as on his 9-minute suite “I’m Wrong”, but he quickly returns back to a state of normalcy for the rest of the album. These songs are just far too generic for me to even give the album much more than a 3rd listen; even though Black has some creative ideas on how to release his music, his ideas within the studio just don’t bleed through.
- Triple Crown Records / Favorite Gentlemen
- August 24, 2012
Bad Books is basically a sister group for the more noticeable Manchester Orchestra as band members Andy Hull, Robert McDowell, and Johnathan Corley all split their time between both bands. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard Hull this year, as his solo project under the name of Right Away, Great Captain! released the third album of a trilogy. On that record, Hull was able to show a brand new side, one that managed to bring a more folk-influenced style of music to the table, and it was nice to see this change in dynamic from what he was accustomed to with Manchester Orchestra. Bad Books doesn’t share this ability. This is the sophomore LP for Bad Books yet it sounds exactly like a Manchester Orchestra record, from the power chords on guitar to the out-shined bass notes. This ended up being a major turn off for me as I’ve never been a fan of Manchester Orchestra but as I was genuinely interested in Hull’s solo project, I hoped that Bad Books might follow suit and try something different and maybe even innovative. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Hull seems to be all out of energy after a year’s worth of emotional songwriting and his band behind him just seems altogether bored as can be playing the same old, same old.
- Big Scary Monsters / Blood & Biscuits
- October 8, 2012
Tall Ships is a math rock band from England whose experimental guitar work doesn’t get overshadowed by the band’s fun-loving jam style. Everything Touching is the trio’s sophomore LP and the musical features are absolutely addicting. The music on this record obviously uses some very experimental time signatures but really, where this album stands out is in the band’s upbeat and fluctuating rhythms, which end up being oddly dance friendly. Ric Phetean benefits from some outstanding production and sound mixing as his vocals are layered over and over again to make this really subtle yet tremendously stadiumesque vocal harmony with himself. The drumming is another standout as Jamie Bush is really making a name for himself as a percussionist. Tracks like “T=0” and “Gallop” stand out for me on this album and in the end, the only true weakness on this record for Tall Ships is that they don’t stay terribly consistent from track to track. Some songs are far and away the best math rock songs I’ve heard all year, while others stay on the gentle side and just don’t contain the same excitement and energy that the band is accustomed to. I expect some big things from this trio, though, and I’ll be on the lookout for future releases for sure.
- Hammock Music
- October 2, 2012
Hammock is a two-piece post-rock band that has been creating wonderful, atmospheric music since 2005. The duo is made up of Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson, a pair of guitarists from Nashville. They have always made music very organically, with plenty of instruments, rather then exploring with electronics like most ambient artists do, and this trait has always paid off for the pair. Their epic, flowing music has always been very emotional and extremely heavy, similar to Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Departure Songs is the duo’s newest release and it is incredibly masterful. The album is far longer then most anything I’ve heard by them, coming in at a whopping hour and 40 minutes, but don’t let that intimidate you. This double album plays put with such genuine beauty that it almost just naturally flows through you from beginning to end. There are a few tracks off this album that I think are quite possibly some of the most gorgeous post-rock songs I’ve heard in years, such as “Together Alone”. Hammock has always held the power of being able to vividly sculpt you the image of what their music is about in your minds and this album outdoes just about every other one of their releases up to this point. This album was a massive surprise for me and even with its length, everything just seems to work nicely together.
- Kill Rock Stars
- February 25, 1997
It’s now been just over 9 years since Elliott Smith died. His death was a tragic one, leaving many questions behind in his place. Was it a suicide? Was it murder? All the facts tend to point toward Smith taking his own life, but the way he did it was just so brutal that it’s just hard to even imagine. What Smith left behind was a loving fan base, an incredible musical future, and not to mention a loving family and group of close friends. His career prior to his final seconds was quick yet incredibly successful. He had released 6 albums in the span of 10 years and every single one of them tended to be on the darker side of life. His emotional state always seemed rather rough, but this is a pretty common characteristic in folk music and in the end, his deep, heartbreaking lyrics were what made his music so beautiful in the first place. On his 1997 album Either/Or, Smith had close to perfected his sound and the overall image he wanted to portray on the record. The album was a gritty one, with plenty of depressing lyrics and acoustic guitars. I’m not sure that Smith ever sounded more lonely then he did on this album and this broken persona really bled out for us all to dig through. Connecting the dots from this record to his death can’t be verified, but there seems to be a very eerie sense of foreshadowing going on here. This is one of those folk gems from the 90’s and I think that it will remain to be a timeless record. Elliott Smith did for his generation what Nick Drake did for his and to compare these two artists is in great respect.
Albums To Look Forward To Next Week:
- California Wives – Art History
- Emeralds – Just To Feel Anything
- Donald Fagen – Sunken Condos
- Southern Shores – New World
- Ponderosa – Pool Party
- The Gathering – Disclosure
Good Shephard – Hologram Charizard
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!