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: Alcest - Les Voyages De L'âme
TUESDAY: Clubroot - III-MMXII
WEDNESDAY: Here We Go Magic - A Different Ship
THURSDAY: Bass Clef - Reeling Skullways
FRIDAY: Allo Darlin' - Europe
SATURDAY: Lee Fields - Faithful Man
Alcest - Les Voyages De L'âme:
From the first moment that I put on My Bloody Valentine's Loveless, I knew I had started my love affair with shoegaze music. I love just about every quality of it from the monstrous guitar effects and pedal usage to the drowned out vocals that rang with such subtle beauty that it was like dream pop music on acid. I've been listening to shoegaze music from bands all across the planet ever since regardless of language and it was because of that persistence and inability to quit that I came across Alcest, a French band that blends together black metal and shoegaze. Their sound is definitely reminiscent of early 90's shoegaze music but it also carries on an identity of its own. Their music has evolved over the years from being just an ordinary metal band to blossoming into a very conceptual, shoegaze band. The ideas put forth by lead singer and songwriter Stéphane Paut, better known by his stage name Neige, are quite gorgeous as they revolve around a dreamworld made up in his own mind. His song lyrics tell stories of this "wonder world" and describe the surroundings in the location which end up being so intriguing and genuinely beautiful. It's a very nice way to approach your songwriting as most musicians write about what they know rather then what they dream about. I know that right off the bat though, most people who do not speak French are going to have a colossal problem with this album which is absolutely callow. I learned in film school that of all the world, the one country that has an altogether issue with watching foreign films is the United States. Now, as an American, I have to say I was quite disappointed in that but it does make sense. Today's society within young culture expects to have everything handed to them on a silver platter and that includes film and music. Young people today are not willing to go that extra mile to discover something that is right in front of them and would rather sit back and be given all the answers. In other words, foreign films present too much of an issue for American youth to follow as reading subtitles are somehow just too much work. I hate that this is true as so many amazing and wonderful pieces of media art are foreign, especially within the music industry. Alcest have made another terrifically gorgeous record in their native French language entitled Les Voyages De L'âme, which translates to The Journeys Of The Soul. This is a perfect title to a record that is a backdrop to a journey to an imaginative world and when you follow along with the lyrics through, say, Google translator, the story is all well worth it. These songs are all enriched with such passion and intriguing descriptions of a made up world that to not give this album a chance should be considered a crime, especially if you are a fan of shoegaze music. This album continues to climb my albums of the year list and right now holds a steady position at #2. I suggest you check it out.
Clubroot - III-MMXII:
My journey with Clubroot began as a chance actually. It was a few years ago when my best friend Mark and I took our common trip to the local record store, which by the way must be the best record store on the planet (no joke). While inside, we must have spent at least a few hours going through all the records we could find. As I decided to buy some gems I knew about, Mark decided to take a chance and buy something neither of us had ever heard of before. The record was II-MMX by Clubroot and when we finally got back to my place to spin it, we were altogether captivated by it. It was like a spiritual journey through an atmospheric jungle of world music and ambiance. The album became a quick favorite of ours and the surprising nature of just how lucky we were in finding it seemed like destiny in that moment. When you listen to Clubroot though, you'll see some odd changes in musical styles. On his first album, Dan Richmond (the DJ behind Clubroot) uses influences of dubstep with lots of heavy drum and bass while on his sophomore LP, the one we purchased, he uses more ambiance and world music techniques. The shift in sound was actually beneficial but both records are very well done. After those two albums, I was very excited to hear what Richmond would have in store for me next. His new LP III-MMXII, seems like a combination of his influences. He uses a lot of heavy drum and bass but also combines that with some eerie ambiance that suits each track very nicely. The exciting dubstep has taken a backseat to some more intricate sounds. A lot of this new album reminds me of Monolake but with a bit less IDM and a little more ambiance. I really enjoy the edginess of this record but because of the lack of atmosphere that Richmond implemented on his second album, the record lacks any real excitement. Some of the tracks such as "Summons" or "Lurking In The Shadows" showed great potential and a strive for something more lofty but the pounding bass rhythms and eerie sound effects held it back. Clubroot continues to be a very interesting producer as his abilities behind his mixing board continue to grow but at the same time, I was hoping for something a bit more natural and airy. This album ends up being one that will most likely sit in the shadows of its predecessors.
Here We Go Magic - A Different Ship:
Here We Go Magic are still very early in their career but they have already managed to be a very effective and compelling band within the world of indie music. On their debut, self-titled album in 2009, the band explored some very rangy rhythms and lo-fi experimentation. The album was almost purposely produced in such a way that the imperfections stood out but in the end the album ended up being a terrific debut. The band placed lots of electronics within their full band sound and all of this combined really shows something unique and ambitious for such a young band. By the time the band released their second LP Pigeons, the band had pretty huge following of fans who were all hoping for a great sophomore album. The band had shifted their sound to a more neo-psychedelia influenced record. Luke Temple, the bands lead singer / songwriter / mastermind, kind of took a step backwards on Pigeons as production was picked up a notch and everything seemed a bit too clean as opposed to their debut. Although the album lacked the same indulgence as the band's debut, Pigeons was still a decent release. After the first two albums though, it was clear to Temple that it was time for his music to take on a true life of its own. He needed to blend together the bedroom pop and psychedelic, twee inspired sound to make something that would broaden their legacy. Their first step in accomplishing their ambitious goals for their newest album A Different Ship, was to hire famed producer Nigel Godrich to be at the helm of the entire album. Godrich is best known as the producer of just about every Radiohead album. His legacy will always be as the creator of Radiohead's sound which really took off on their second album The Bends, Godrich's first collaboration with the band. By employing Godrich to assemble A Different Ship, the band was able to put their music into probably the perfect set of hands. The album ends up combining the ideas from the first two records and running with them for the record's entirety. The music holds a strong pop presence but the dense layers of instrumentation and musical atmosphere ends up being incredibly produced. Godrich gives Here We Go Magic an infinite space to experiment with all their inspirations. The band is really at an all time best with this album and the music along with Temple's best songwriting yet, gives this album a great chance of hanging around the top of this years best album's list.
Bass Clef - Reeling Skullways:
As a huge fan of music, it was inevitable that I would become a loving fan of electronic music. I remember 5 or 6 years ago when I couldn't stand the genre at all regardless of whether it was dubstep music or house music, but the more music you listen to the more mature your palate will become. With an album a day for the last 5 years, my musical palate has of course grown to much more complex and experimental pleasures. Dubstep is a genre that I got into in 2007 when Burial released Untrue, an album that redefined the entire landscape of the genre. Untrue has become one of the best albums since 2000 and it's much deserved. Since then however, so many artists have used the terminology "dubstep" to define their music and it's never been coherent. It seems today that house music artists have grafted the term into their influences and now naive music fans talk about dubstep as if they know anything about it when really, they have zero idea. Bass Clef shows positive signs towards a realistic version of dubstep. Ralph Cumbers, the producer behind Bass Clef, creates a very minimal sounding dance groove that blends in a heavy drum and bass technique. The dubstep format surrounding his electronic patterns isn't particularly there all the time as it has been for his albums in the past, but he does make good use of it when he explores that identity. Overall, this album tends to get a bit demanding. In other words, unless you are a hardcore, die hard electronic music fan I'm not sure you're going to be able to truly connect with this record. This album seems like a complex album on the exterior but when you dig deep, the music is actually quite simple which bothers me greatly. Most of the sounds put together here are just looped and overly repeated, creating a sort of mash up of annoyance. Some tracks on this album really stood apart from the negative ones though especially the dance friendly "Embrace Disaster" and the really satisfying finale track "Ghosts Kick In The Spiral". Most of the time though, this album seems like an electronics record released in the 1980's because of it's old sound and nintendo-esque nature. This record was a miss for me.
Allo Darlin' - Europe:
In the last few years, there has seemed to be a huge surge of twee pop bands. Burning Hearts, Camera Obscura and Trembling Blue Stars have all been well established contributors to the twee movement but Allo Darlin' also deserves some recognition themselves. Allo Darlin', made up of Elizabeth Morris, Paul Rains, Bill Botting, and Mikey Collins, make a pretty well sculpted dream pop sound that more or less sticks to the generic ideas put forth when the genre was first born. On their debut album in 2010, the band received lots of mixed reviews. Many people enjoyed their spirited emotions that included lots of very catchy and pop driven sounds while others, like myself, had lots of issues with the album's lack of anything truly unique or mind shattering. For me, the album ended up getting lost in the mix mostly due to it's inability to really make a name for it's self. That being said however, the album wasn't bad it just wasn't anything special. Flash forward to 2012, the band has released their sophomore LP entitled Europe, and things seem to be generally the same. The music stays at the same steady progression with no real energy outside of some very catchy pop hooks and jangly guitar rhythms. The production does seem a bit evolved though as vocals and instrumentation or well seperated from one another, giving lots of space for Morris' lofty vocals. In the end though, the music all just ends up being very monotonous and although I like a lot of what this band has to offer, I continue to long for even more. All in all, this is a very common problem within any type of pop music as Europe will most likely slide under the radar and be forgotten by many who listened to it, and it's very understandable. Allo Darlin' needs to find a way to divide themselves from the rest of the twee pop acts that outshine them and until they have a solo identity, I don't see them making much noise within the indie kingdom.
Lee Fields - Faithful Man:
Lee Fields spent his adolescence singing in church quires and listening to r&b music. He grew up loving artists such as James Brown and The Temptations and would later use his favorite childhood bands as inspiration within his music. Fields has been making music since the late 60's, mostly as backup singer and piano player. Over the years, Fields developed a terrific ability for playing funk and jazz music but he never left his roots within the soul category. On his latest album Faithful Man, Fields finally creates his ultimate masterpiece. The album is reminiscent of some of the greatest 60's soul records I can wrap my mind around and not a second was wasted within the short timeline of the record. Fields sings with such passion on each track while he also collaborates with some backup female vocalists who bring out even more of that nostalgia with their gorgeous harmonies and "doo-wop" styled singing. Most of the album revolves around jazz oriented ensembles that bring out the likeness of some truly beautiful r&b music.The record just truly shines with inspiration and pure nostalgia. Fields' vocals have never been better and the bar has never been raised any higher. Although the album only comes in at about 37 minutes, it's his fullest album to date in terms of density. The production was just basically perfect as everything comes together so brilliantly and the atmosphere was used up so well that there doesn't seem to be a musical note I would change or remove. Lee Fields has come full circle to a very mature sound that plays with pure brilliance from side A to side B. It's great to hear soul music coming back into significance!
From The Mouth Of The Sun - Woven Tide:
From The Mouth Of The Sun is the collaboration between Dag Rosenqvist and composer Aaron Martin. When I was first made aware of the existence of this band, I was told they were nothing more then a post-rock band but that couldn't be more wrong of an explanation of the band's sound. Woven Tide, the duo's debut LP released earlier this year, is mostly a very well orchestrated modern classical album that also shares lots of ideas within the dark ambient movement. The album is extremely dark and many complex and long arrangements, all of which show great amounts of vision and ability. This album is wrapped in numerous ideas that seem to almost overflow within the album itself. In other words, the use of all these different types of ambient sub genres and ideas consisting of many different instruments just seemed to be a bit overwhelming at times. I was almost immediately reminded of A Winged Victory For The Sullen who released their debut record just last year. That album is, in my opinion, one of the greatest records composed within the last 10-15 years as it defines exactly how an ambient record should be composed. The subtle arrangements should always be wrapped in blissful silence while also bringing forth a gorgeous function through your instruments. A Winged Victory For The Sullen were able to transport your mind to an entirely different dimension and paint you these vivid pictures without the use of a single lyric. This is mainly the goal of any artist who is making an ambient album, to infuse some kind of image into your mind that can be of one's own interpretation. From The Mouth Of The Sun make a very good attempt at this idea as they play with a dark sound that seems to drive you to rock bottom. They include some very shifty arrangements of violins, horns, piano, and cello that breathe air into the very ominous sounding record. In the end though, I'm left a bit lost within the maze of where this album took me to begin with. I really enjoy some of the compositions but at other times songs scurry away with my intrigue and I just can't help but wish there was a bit less or a bit more. From The Mouth Of The Sun should be taken very seriously though if you are into ambient music and/or modern classical music as they have a true knowledge of composing but in the end, this album ends up being just another flurry in the world of ambient music.
After another great 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!