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: Windy & Carl - We Will Always Be
WEDNESDAY: Oberhofer - Time Capsules II
THURSDAY: Scuba - Personality
FRIDAY: Monolake - Ghosts
SATURDAY: Fanfarlo - Rooms Filled With Light
SUNDAY: Placid Larry - Melancholy Light
Windy & Carl - We Will Always Be:
I've always been a firm believer that ambient music is one of, if not, the deepest genres that music has to offer. There are so many different brands of the evolving style that sub genres have become a necessity when discussing it. In the end though, I separate ambient music into two different sections. One section of ambient music is the kind that moves you and stirs your emotions while the other is the kind that you basically can sit through without much feeling at all. That second kind I have found is perfect for concentration purposes whether it be studying, working in your office, or best yet, sleeping. It's so subtle and minimal that there doesn't have to be much heart put into the song. Windy & Carl have been making this type of ambient music since the early 90's and they've been doing it to great avail. Their ambient music isn't electronic really, they more often use guitars with a great deal of effects. They use a lot of delay effects, reverb, and the e bow is especially made useful on their brand new LP, We Will Always Be. The album's tracks often ride themselves out a bit too long as we wait for some kind of gift within the music, but it doesn't really arrive. The songs just end in very subtle, minimalistic ways to the point where you kind of forget the record is even on. Some of these tracks are pretty gorgeous though, especially due to that sustaining sound from the e bow. Although this married couple has been regarded as dream pop band meets ambient music, I see them more as an acoustic, minimalist, ambient group that tries to be more epic sounding then they have the ability to be. Regardless, if you are into subtle ambient music to sleep to sleep or study to, check out this album without hesitation.
Earth - Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light II:
Post Rock has always been a favorite of mine ever since I first heard Godspeed You! Black Emperor. After releasing record after record of epic bliss, the band called it quits and as other bands strived to create a masterpiece in Godspeed's image, nothing ever came to be. Post Rock isn't entirely one-dimensional in its sound as bands have creatively found ways to make their sound unique and flexible without losing that concrete identity that makes up post rock music to begin with. Some bands have experimented with electronic music while others have tested the math rock waters. Earth is much more old school. Although Earth is a metal band at heart, their true influence is within the realm of post rock. They actually sound a lot like Godspeed, if Godspeed were more aggressive with their electric guitars and less orchestral. Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light II is the sequel to the same titled LP that the band released last year in 2011 and was recorded at the same time as it's predecessor. Both albums have shown a significant shift in Earth's sound as they have pushed their soundscapes to all new feets and have triumphed in doing so. On the sequel, their sound has become more fundamental than ever before. The song list is sinister and just downright evil but with such high levels of sadness and overwhelming anxiety, this record really beats at your emotions. Although I think last year's record was better for being a bit more complex, this is a great way to end the story for the music. If you're a fan of old school post rock and well orchestrated labyrinths of electric guitar driven ambiance, then this record will surely make you quiver. I continue though, to try and discover a post rock band that pushes the boundaries of the genre itself as I have yet to find one that truly can.
Oberhofer - Time Capsules II:
Oberhofer is probably the next big thing for indie pop music and although I'm not a fan of this idea, I can see why it might happen. The band is run by Brad Oberhofer, the lead vocalist and leading contributor to the band's catalogue. His eccentric personality, which is easily identifiable when you listen to his songs, is where the band has generated it's identity. Their debut album entitled Time Capsules II, is out later this month. As a music fan, I am quickly getting more mature with my musical palate. Years ago, I would probably be listening to music by Green Day and thinking "this is the greatest thing I've ever heard!". Things change though, people evolve. I grew up and became a teenager and once again, my musical taste shifted as it has since even college. With every album I listen to, I develop a brand new hunger for something creative and unique. Something that can outdo anything else I have ever heard or something that will just plain old move me. Unfortunately, even though I listen to over 300 records a year, most of those album just don't contain the ingredients to quench that thirst of mine. Oberhofer fits that scheme in a way. They come out guns blazing on their debut LP and even though the energy is suitable, it all just seems a bit immature. It's like punk music of the 90's has molested the indie band of the year and made this awkward child who just can't find his own way in life. The music just seems too simple, too generic and the lyrics are a bit frail and basically just lame. I guess that all happens when you name a song "oOoO". When I was a kid who still listened to Green Day, a best friend of mine once told me that if I were to start playing guitar I would begin to see just how boring their songs were. The fact that I would be able to pick up an acoustic guitar and play each song using 3 or 4 chords would begin to show me that music like that was just too simple to be any good. I had that feeling while listening to Oberhofer as I just sat in my chair and could almost just see the boring pattern of chords and notes running along an imaginary scale. It kind of defeated me as I tried making it through the entirety of the album. I think this band though will find a large fan base, I just won't be a part of it.
Scuba - Personality:
Paul Rose has been exploring all kinds of different electronic structures of music since 2007. On his debut album, he waded through some heavy dubstep and on his second album, he continued his dubstep progression but also added a more IDM driven structure to the album. On Personality, Rose has totally changed his musical direction around. Over the last 5 or so years, we have seen an outpouring of music that really started bringing dubstep to life. Although the genre wasn't entirely new, it somehow was like a rebirth of sorts with artists such as Burial, Scuba and Skream all releasing records that explored the genre in a more diverse way. Recently, we have seen the huge emergence of Skrillex and somehow society has decided that they love dubstep music and that Skrillex is the king of all kings when it comes to the genre. What? I've become extremely frustrated with all this focus on Skrillex and I hear about it almost every single day from friends who know absolutely nothing about dub step music. Skrillex, to me, is not dubstep music. Let me repeat myself, Skrillex is not dubstep music. His music is obviously a drum and bass influenced house music, but the experimental edginess and minimalistic qualities of true dub step are totally absent from Skrillex's music. Regardless though, with his popularity becoming so high, other artists seem to be moving in a direction relative to Skrillex, including Scuba. Scuba's new album leaves behind all those intrinsic values that were present on his first two records and instead, has opened his music up to a more techno, house driven identity. To me, it's like a wannabe dub step record that just stays more in tune with that dance movement that has more or less taken over the genre. I think "brostep" is the word people are using to describe and I think that's pretty ingenious. There are a couple tracks off of Scuba's new album that I loved, mainly because they incorporated the old school, mechanical formats that made Rose so incredible in the past but overall, I was very disappointed with this release. It's odd that I seem to be in the minority with that but I love stirring debate!
Monolake - Ghosts:
Monolake is the brainchild of Robert Henke, a German born electronics musician. With the addition of Torsten Pröfrock, their music has been a pretty exquisite adventure through almost any and every electronics genre you can name. For the most part, their music has always carried a specific darkness along with it but it's never matched the pure insanity of their newest album, Ghosts. On the record, the two producers use a hefty amount of sound effects that layer over one another to draw out these haunting sounds to your ears. The result is probably the most disturbing music I have ever heard. The paranormal activity in these songs is so powerful that at times, I almost struggled to keep it on as I became terrified. No joke, it's disturbing when you hear those background footsteps that come your way or the sounds of a screaming child that is so subtle yet so significant. The dubstep influence is all over this record, even more so then their last record from 2009. The glitchy electronics with the slow tempo drums and bass make for a very eerie sound to go along with the relentless sound effects from a haunted mansion. Monolake have really created something horrifying on this album as it almost seems like they were actually possessed by the spirits in the studio. The demonic presence hovers over each track and the disturbing nature of each song will horrify you from start to finish. Good luck with this one my friends, especially if you have no lights in your room!
Fanfarlo - Rooms Filled With Light:
In 2009, Fanfarlo released their debut record Reservoir which became another piece of a terrific year for indie rock. Their sound was a bit similar to Arcade Fire but still held on to it's own identity with lots of very orchestral arrangements. The songs were catchy and the music, although not a standout for the year, was right on target. It ended up being a very good debut from a band that seemed to have a tremendous amount of potential. Now, 3 years later, we have the band's sophomore release, Rooms Filled With Light. The composition has shifted a bit as Fanfarlo has decided to explore a bit more within the 80's pop field of music. With lots of keyboards and much less guitars, the band's sound is definitely modified. At times on the record, the band shines as the music becomes a very manipulated, orchestral pop cocktail that seems to just hit you in such a fun way. At other times though, the music is just flat and almost overproduced to the point where we lose touch in that joyous sound we had fun with on their first album. Their sound has become much more baroque in general which is fine, but the quality of some of the tracks are just way too mediocre to be taken at all seriously. One huge improvement for me though, are the vocal arrangements by Simon Balthazar. Not only is his singing more confident and just overall stronger, his lyrics are much more powerful and sincere. Although the lyrics try to make sense of some kind of narrative, it's never made to be a sure thing. The album does seem to revolve on Balthazar's feelings towards modern life and how odd it can be when you think of all the possibilities we, as humans, have on a daily basis. Every decision we make in our lives brings us to a new decision and Balthazar plays with that and tries to mold this into his own work of art. At times, this album shows a vast improvement for this quickly evolving band but at other times, I'm seeing something that is just too formulated and easily forgettable.
Placid Larry - Melancholy Light:
Thinking about this past week, it's odd that 5 of the 7 albums ended up being almost totally instrumental. I got through an ambient record, a post rock record, a dub step record, and an IDM record all in the same week which might sound a bit crazy, but actually it was quite fun. Sometimes it's nice to let go and just chill out with instrumental music, especially when you have as busy a week as I just had. I guess that's why I thought I would simmer it down today and catch up with some downtempo music, to ease the senses a bit. Daniel Ray van Zyl, who goes by the pseudonym Placid Larry, has been a world traveling DJ since about 1999. He was born in South Africa but didn't spend much time there as he has spent most of his life traveling the globe. His main location of music development is now in the UK, where the style of house beats really influenced his song crafting. Although Melancholy Light is Daniel's first full length album, he has been a major contributor to the scene for over 10 years. On his debut, Daniel explores the basic downtempo footpath as his laid back beats take over your bass speakers. What is really intriguing about this album though, is the world music approaches he has so subtlety taken. Over the course of the 1 hour album, you'll hear some Chinese horns, African hand drums, and even some Caribbean styled bongos. Daniel's sense of the world is not taken for granted and he really gives us a glimpse into his explorations over the course of his life. It's actually incredible to think about how much of an advantage a musician might have when they are able to travel the world and pick up on different ideas of music in countless cultures. The album does suffer however, from being a bit too circumspect. The album is very pleasant but unlike most trip hop records, we don't get that sense of rhythm with heavy, mind-blowing beats. Instead, Daniel has kind of driven us into a music coma as the sounds end up being very minimal and tiresome. I like this record for what it is but as far as great downtempo records go, this one just doesn't share the same criteria.
A pretty lyric-less 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 by contributing to the poll below. Have a great week!