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 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: Andrew Bird - Break It Yourself
TUESDAY: Porcelain Raft - Strange Weekend
WEDNESDAY: John Talabot - ƒIN
FRIDAY: Chiddy Bang - Breakfast
SATURDAY: Perfume Genius - Put Your Back N2 It
Andrew Bird - Break It Yourself:
How in the world is anyone supposed to define the type of music that Andrew Bird makes? I mean sure, it's folk music but it's far too incomparable to be just folk alone. Pop? Sure. Indie? Well that's not a genre, just a type of release but don't get me started on that. Whatever genre you want to characterize Bird with, in the end he is an expert songsmith. After 2005's The Mysterious Production Of Eggs, Bird has been trying to create his new masterpiece. Armchair Apocrypha and Noble Beast were both great albums and although I personally think Noble Beast is a better record then Eggs, it just didn't share that same obtuse complexity that made Eggs so incredible. Break It Yourself, the brand new LP from Bird, continues to build on this escapade and in fact, I think it is Bird's best release yet. Although his career has been built on making the simplest pop songs sound opaque, Bird is a bit more accessible on his latest release. He isn't conforming at all however, he's just brought in some more concise melodies that I think a wider variety of people will enjoy. Whether it's the slow, melodic "Lazy Projector" which sounds like a disguised Jackson Browne song, or the island dance splash of "Danse Carribe" where I feel like I should be at some dance party in the Carribean, Bird just knows how to pull at your heart strings. He seems to have almost perfected this sound that is just so independent of anything else. Track after track, this record is just so terrific in that each song sounds so much different then the former. I've accepted the fact that Andrew Bird is probably that artist that is normally skipped on your iTunes shuffle, mostly because his music needs to be fully appreciated as a set of songs rather then just single for single, but with Break It Yourself, I think all that changes. Try listening to "Give It Away" and not having that song stuck in your head for the remainder of the week. If you can, you're probably not human and should have yourself checked out by a doctor. Even the opening track, "Desperation Breeds...", Bird is instrumentally at his best as he creates this gorgeous melody with a plucked acoustic guitar and these flowing violins that just drift so elegantly throughout the entire song. In the end, there are just too many great tracks to add here to the post and I think buying this record is a must for any music fan in general.
Porcelain Raft - Strange Weekend:
As an artist, you have a unique and challenging job of stimulating the senses of aesthetic pleasure. Anybody can create art, even monkeys are capable of creating a piece of art, but the best artists are always able to create a full, uncanny pieces that connect A to Z. Musicians have it very tough because they are in a business where they have to create a multitude of tracks that all build on themselves to create one entire piece of art. The LP or the EP have been kind of taken for granted since the 1970's, especially since people started using downloading clients like Kazaa or Napster. With the emergence of these illegal downloading software, music changed pretty significantly as singles took over LP's. For true fans of music though, nothing will ever beat out a full length album. Songs come together to form chapters of one melodic, novel as the music takes us to wherever we want to go. This is what great albums do anyways. Strange Weekend? Not so much. Porcelain Raft is the music child of Mauro Remiddi, an Italian born musician and composer. His background with music is pretty dense as he has played piano in theater productions, keyboards in indie pop bands, and even some solo covers of songs by Nirvana. After all that and a move to Brooklyn, Remiddi decided to delve into a new project that balanced itself along a wave of dream pop influence. Citing bands such as Beach House as primary influences, his sound as Porcelain Raft is very melodic and well mannered. The first half of his new album was in fact very intriguing. Although his main genre of choice is dream pop, there are some very subtle additions of grunge guitar and even some psychedelic flux that kicks at your inner senses. At one point, I kind of chuckled to myself while listening to the second track titled "Shapeless & Gone" as it sounded similar to "Boogie Shoes" by KC & The Sunshine Band if the song were a full step slower. For the most part, I enjoyed these ranging influences but on the other hand, the second half of the album basically just seems to fall apart. You see this happen quite often with young musicians who don't have much experience, but you don't expect that to happen to an experienced musician like Remiddi. The tracks on side B start to show signs of being very unoriginal and just so basic to the point where I feel like I am back at the tail end of the 80's and dream pop is stripped back to it's bare skeleton. The vocals are also not a strong suit for Remiddi either as they almost never stay in key. At the end of the day, a good album needs more then just one good side especially when you're creating music in a genre that is so overloaded with talent. Trying to stand out in that crowd is already a difficult task, but making a half suitable album doesn't help your case at all.
John Talabot - ƒIN:
John Talabot is a young producer from Barcelona whose musical influences range from tribal African beats to electronic house music. All of these different types of music that Talabot has been exploring have really come to life on his brand new LP, ƒIN. The record has been classified as a balearic beat album which is understandable. Although balearic beat music rose to fame in the 1980's and hasn't been too popular since, Talabot is very old school in his DJ approach. He likes to use a wide arrange of styles with his music. While some tracks use a very traditional, minimal approach, others use a far more loud, house beat approach. Because of these differentiating techniques, Talabot has created something quite unique and actually pretty difficult to break down. The beats are where this album really stands apart from other house music producers, mainly because of the world music influences that bleed such nice traditions from cultures around the world. Talabot is an expert at blending these different genres of music together in sort of a cultural melting pot. Although the tracks are basically house music that you might hear in a night club, the complexities are far too great to just simply compare it to an artist such as Deadmau5, whom I can't stand after going to college in long island, the thick of all crap, house music. Talabot's experimental nature really takes over for these tracks, using a specific kind of tribal concept that I haven't heard since maybe Lindstrøm, but with an obviously more world music type of approach. Especially on tracks such as the first single "Destiny" where we have these terrific drum machines along with some synthesizers creating these captivating, horn sounds. The vocals by Pional are a total plus as well, bringing this track to the forefront of the album's accessibility. The track "When The Past Was Present" is also a brilliant combination of the tribal themes, with some distant, interesting, synthesizer effects going on to make up the layout of the track over some terrific bass. In all honesty, I can see this album as being one that might get lost in the shuffle mainly because it's something that needs a certain type of mood and if you're just hanging out, it has the ability to make you a bit dizzy with all the intense, electronic, house beats going on. Listening to this record in the silence of your own room might not be the best way to go about it but if you're having a few drinks with your friends and getting ready to go out for the night, I highly recommend this album.
Ulrich Schnauss & Mark Peters - Underrated Silence:
Schnauss and Peters are best known as musicians in the band Engineers, a shoegaze band that has been together since about 2003. Peters was a founding member of the band, and after two albums, Schnauss joined as the electronics musician. As a huge fan of Engineers, I was quite excited about hearing a side project, especially one that experimented with ambiance and 100% electronics. Their first album as a duo was just released and titled Underrated Silence. Although I was really fired up about this release over the past three or four months, I kind of already knew what to expect. I mean, this was a pretty basic project, one that wouldn't market their skills as a band in any way at all. In fact, there isn't a single similarity between this ambient project and Engineers what so ever. It's a bit unfair to hold onto a certain idea for how artists should be making music but we all do it. When Radiohead released King Of Limbs last year, I'm sure a high majority of people including myself were disappointed with the massive change of influence. Going from the alternative driven The Bends to the progressive, electronic Kid A was masterful, so why try and create some kind of glitchy, electronic record? Anyhow, I was still excited to finally hear Underrated Silence this week for the first time. Overall, the music is quite nice. It's a very slowcore type of ambiance at work here, mainly sleep inducing. The electronics are decorous and the loops, although a bit repetitive, are intriguing as well. My issue with the album though starts to stand out by track 2 and continues on until it's conclusion. It's too clean. Everything is just so incredibly tidy and spotless. It's like being stuck in this 10 by 10 room with blank white walls and leather sofas covered in thick plastic. It's windowless and the bright, white incandescent light bulbs just blind your eyes as you try to get comfortable. It kind of leaves you with a sickly feeling in a way, almost like you're trapped. In no way do I think this album is bad but at the same time, great music always involves risks. We need more, something to liven up these tracks and something to make a mess with. The music just ends up being colorless and a bit dull. Does the bad outweigh the good? I'm pretty much 50/50 on it as it's probably not an album I'll revisit anytime soon or maybe not ever at all but I can't, in good faith, put this album with the worst of the worst. The instrumentals are just too well produced, almost too overly produced. In all honesty, the silence becomes a bit overrated in my opinion.
Chiddy Bang - Breakfast:
Of all places, I first heard Chiddy Bang when I started playing Madden 12 late last year. Even though that video game series has done absolutely ziltch to improve the game over the course of the last 8 years, the soundtrack was actually really good. I mean you had contributions from A Tribe Called Quest, Mellowhype, and Nas so the hip hop was a key reason why I kept that game on instead of throwing that shit out. Chiddy Bang's single "Mind Your Manners" was a key part of that soundtrack and I was pretty hooked on it myself. It was one of the catchiest choruses I had heard in a long while and the sample of Icona Pop was genuinely amazing. After a few months though, that song grew old and tiresome especially after one too many radio plays. Finally though, Chiddy Bang released their debut LP, Breakfast. Going into the record, it was pretty obvious what to expect and it's exactly what I got. Although the album is catchy and very rhythmic, the songs are basically just high school hip hop tunes. Noah Beresin shows great promise as the producer behind all the beats as he takes most of his inspiration from electronic artists such as Passion Pit or MGMT. The rap is all done by Chidera Anamege, who at times, is quite brilliant with his rhymes. The lyrics, as a whole, aren't bad but they just fail to show any signs of true significance. It's all very "kid friendly" and kind of comes across as more of a pop album then a true hip hop album. I feel like some of these tracks have the potential of being on one of those "Kidz Bop" records where the children remix songs and it sounds like you're at a kindergarten party. That might be a little harsh, I mean there is some cursing going on with some of the tracks but the overall sound of each song with the electronics behind the rap just feels immature to me. I kind of found myself getting a little embarrassed that I even had the album on because I was reminded of my days of being a 13 year old again and who want's to relive those awkward years huh? Blah.
Perfume Genius - Put Your Back N2 It:
Perfume Genius, also known as Mike Hadreas, made news earlier this year when he tried releasing the promo video for his forthcoming album, Put Your Back N2 It, which has since been released. The promo video featured porn star Arpad Miklos and Hadreas who, in the video, embraced each other in a hug in their underwear. The video was completely harmless as neither one was naked and there wasn't a sexual feeling about the image at all. Rather, it simply portrayed two lovers. Problem is, we as a human race, are still unable to totally accept this homosexual culture which is why Google and YouTube decided to block the images from their websites, saying they were somehow "harmful to society" and "not family safe". Stupid, ignorant bastards. It's a true shame in my opinion. People should never have an issue to express themselves in whatever way they are comfortable with. Who cares that Hadreas is homosexual? It's a totally harmless thing and I for one, congratulate him on his expressionism. He's proud to be who he is and it comes out flawlessly on his new album. Each song is so well polished with beautiful piano chords and heartfelt vocals from Hadreas as the lyrics of his personal life come pouring out of him. In an interview, he stated "I am a gay musician and there's nothing I can do about it" as he chuckled at the camera. He went on to talk about how he would never hide who he is and censoring his ideas was just simply not going to happen. I think that is what I like most about Hadreas as a musician, the fact that he is just a total non-conformist who will not take shit from anybody. He is who he is and he loves that. His music really translates that for him and even though this album is extremely sad and rather fragile, it still shows a self confidence that is beyond what you might think. My one gripe of this entire album are the effects on Hadreas' vocals. When he sings his songs live, there is a much more bass driven undertone in his voice that just sounds much deeper and sadder, but on the album his vocals are self harmonized and processed a bit too much for me. One thing I found a bit funny was the amount of times he uses the word "baby" in his lyrics. At one point, I found myself counting the amount of times the lyric was used which reminded me of a time when I first heard 2Pac's "Hit Em' Up". I was probably about 12 years old and I must have listened to that track about 100 times, mainly trying to keep track of how many times he used the word "fuck". I guess my point with that is just that using the word "love" over and over again is a little bit too melodramatic for me. All in all, I'm not huge into love songs which is why I am not totally sold on this record but it's a very significant album, not just for the homosexual society but for us as a human race. I'm no preacher but it's time to start accepting people for who they are and not what we want them to be. How many people thought 2Pac would be mentioned in a Perfume Genius album review!?
Flights - Anywhere But Where I Am:
Eric Hillman and Brian Holl, known musically as Flights, released their debut record Anywhere But Where I Am early this year for free on their bandcamp page. It was self produced and that was a pretty obvious characteristic as production quality was a bit low but not in a terrible way. There are some subtle issues with the overall production such as some high and low cutoffs and some unnecessary snow that probably was not done purposely. The record though, has a pretty nice feel to it overall. For the most part, the central themes are nature and places within the wilderness. Being from Wisconsin, Hillman and Holl are already drawing a lot of comparisons to Bon Iver but I think that's a bit premature. Anywhere But Where I Am is not a typical folk album as it draws a lot of influence from ambient music. There are lots of things going on musically on each track whether it's some steady piano chord progressions or some breezes of violin notes that seem to howl in the night sky. Overall, the music is pretty good as the record immerses itself in these drowning electronics and acoustic guitar rhythms. The songwriting leaves a lot to be desired however as the lyrics and vocals seem to be easily forgettable in the mix of everything that is going on within each track. At times, I get a bit lost in this record. The influences change so rapidly and some songs sound too similar to the point where I don't know where I am within the album. It's the kind of record that you really need to work at which I think takes away from it's overall wonderment. It's also a very rare case in the fact that it's a folk album that is over 60 minutes in length. That's a pretty dangerous characteristic as I think most people will grow a bit tiresome by side B. In the end, I'd rather listen to Bon Iver then compare the two of them but I think Flights has some abilities. We'll see what they can do with a more structured sound once they get an official producer.
(Just a note for this album...it is currently not for sale as the band is trying to find a label. I linked you to their facebook page per request of the band themselves so that you might be able to get acquainted with them but if you are looking for some of their music, it should be downloadable very soon.)
Another interesting week of album listens is behind me and I am ready for another week as I look forward to getting back to all of you readers next Monday. 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, and what you didn't like. Have a great week!