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 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: Sigur Rós – Valtari
TUESDAY: Japandroids – Celebration Rock
WEDNESDAY: The Temper Trap – The Temper Trap
THURSDAY: Chet Faker – Thinking In Textures
FRIDAY: Fight Bite – Fight Bite
SATURDAY: MayMay – MayMay EP
SUNDAY: Ty Segall & White Fence – Hair
THROWBACK: Alias & Tarsier – Brookland/Oaklyn (2006)
Sigur Rós – Valtari:
This week of Straight From The Teet has got to be the most anticipated week of the year thus far, mostly because of the brand new album by Sigur Rós. I've basically been pulling out my hair from the roots waiting for this record to finally drop but what's really odd to me, is the response that it is getting. Sigur Rós has long been one of the greatest bands in the world and although I'll say that's an arguable point, I like to think that most true fans of music would probably agree, even if you're not an absolute fan of the band themselves. The album that really gives Sigur Rós the image that I am setting for them here in this article was their sophomore LP, Ágætis Byrjun. On that album, Sigur Rós identified a musical style and sound that would define the rest of their discography. From that point on, they were known as band that used post-rock influence mixed with dream pop attributes to create something that was just epically gorgeous, something euphoric in nature. Beyond that record, the band would go on to release ( ), Takk…, and Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust, all of which showed a growing need to create something more pop influenced then ambient inspired. On the last of those albums, the band almost totally left their roots, creating an album that had almost zero post-rock qualities and instead, used a pop influenced structure in their song crafting. Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust would end up being my personal, least favorite Sigur Rós album but it also inspired a pretty terrific solo musical direction for singer/songwriter Jónsi Birgisson, who obviously had some creative ideas that had nothing to do with his musical roots within Sigur Rós. Ultimately, the fact that he was able to get that pop sound off his chest on his debut, solo release was a good thing because it allowed the band to return to the sound that made them so terrific to begin with on their brand new album, Valtari. The album has been released to massive conflicted responses which is totally surprising to me. If you are a fan of Sigur Rós, Valtari is the album you have been waiting for. It fuses together post-rock and ambient music along with a slight combination of dream pop, glorified vocals and everything just comes together to form an epic piece of art. This is what ultimately confuses the hell out of me as people have been begging the band to return to the sounds they created on Ágætis Byrjun and now that they finally have it, it's somehow too ambient or too post-rock embodied. Really? What does Sigur Rós have to do to regain the respect they so rightfully deserve. Although Valtari isn't as good as Ágætis Byrjun, it's still closely identifying to it as it is the closest thing the band has done to that material since. This record is a remarkable piece of work and in my opinion, it's the best thing the band has done since Takk… I think that some of these music critics need to get off their high horse and start listening to the music with a more diverted way of thinking.
Japandroids – Celebration Rock:
Japandroids are a relatively new indie sensation that has been sweeping the scene since the release of their debut album, Post-Nothing. The album's buzz was really generated around a very inspired, energetic sound that was just plain fun from beginning to end. Although the album didn't explore any experimental ideas that would go on to change the criteria of rock music, the fact that it was fun and basically just a kick ass rock n' roll record really garnered up it's popularity within the indie community. I, for one, wasn't all that crazy about the debut. I liked the fun side of it and I still listen to it to this day but it didn't really grasp on to anything for me or make a sincere connection with what I was truly looking for. It's been 3 years now since their debut and the band has finally released their follow-up LP which is appropriately titled Celebration Rock. The album implements the same concepts that Post-Nothing did, but this time the music just seems entirely better. Everything on this album just kicks so much ass that it's hard to knock any of it for any reason. Even on the cover song of The Gun Club's "For The Love Of Ivy", we are almost oblivious to the idea that this isn't an original song by Japandroids because of aggressive and fun nature of the track itself. The band's niche has been carved as being a band that is full of enthusiastic energy and I think that is what keeps them afloat. Japandroids will never be a band that is remembered for their creativity but what they will be known for is as a band that rocks out harder than anyone else. This duo is one of the very few indie arena rock bands and as long as they continue this youthful energy, Japandroids will remain a very significant band in today's musical world.
The Temper Trap – The Temper Trap:
The Temper Trap are an Australian indie rock band who came into massive spotlight after the release of their single "Sweet Disposition" from their debut LP Conditions. The album, in my honest opinion, was one of the crappiest listens I had the entire year of 2009 as the band sounded like the most generic thing I had ever heard. It was almost like going back in time to 2005 and hearing a band do a full album cover of Coldplay's X&Y. Although I admittedly enjoy early Coldplay material, it is unfortunately inspiring bands to create a very pop oriented sound inside their alternative rock roots and this is where we find The Temper Trap, doing the same thing that every other alternative band inside the top 40 list is doing. Even though I hated Conditions with a severe passion, I did happen to really like "Sweet Disposition" just like every other person in the rest of the world. Because of this, I decided I would have to give the band a second try and so, I gave their brand new, self titled LP a chance. The album shows every glaring weakness I discussed in the beginning of this article but it's even worse this time around. Their alternative landscape is covered with a garbage version of the band's pop music and on top of that, they even try to mess around with some electronics on this record. It's obvious they have zero ability to create anything interesting when it comes to electronics so what we get instead, is a truly bland and boring as all hell synth pop structure. This synth pop driven sound that the band decided to go with for this record was a terrible plan of action but at the same time, their music wasn't working before so maybe it was worth trying something different? To make things even worse, when was the last time you listened to a synth pop album that came in at an hour in length? This record probably breaks pop music records in album length and when it comes down to it, there was absolutely no reason for that noise. Most of the tracks here are miserably put together with no sign of progression and for whatever reason, the band decided to keep them on the album. The Temper Trap is a band that I think the top 40 list deserves but for all the people of the world who enjoy good indie music, I think we can all agree that this album nor this band will ever be anything substantial inside a world that is full of interesting music.
Chet Faker – Thinking In Textures:
Australia is on the rise musically as musicians within all genres have been blossoming in their respected scenes. For the most part, R&B has been left out of this uprise as indie rock, alternative, and psychedelic music has been mainly at the forefront. Chet Faker, known otherwise as Nick Murphy, is in the process of changing that dynamic. Thinking In Textures is Murphy's debut EP and it is perfectly titled. The album is very complex with layers of electronics, layers of rhythm and blues, and layers of chillwave just to name a few. This amalgamation of musical styles is contributed by Murphy's love for all things indie and it ends up translating into a very well made, interesting record. At some points we get these really chilled out vibes of dub step and at other times the bright fusions of pop music are brought into the limelight. I really fell in love with the rapidly changing genre dynamic and although I think Chet Faker is an R&B artist at heart, Thinking In Textures is far too complex for solely that label. What really brought his music praise was the experimental and chilled out cover of the timeless Blackstreet song "No Diggity". Chet Faker's version climbed straight to number one on Hype Machine and it really opened the floodgates for the rest of his music. On Murphy's EP, he really shows off his abilities as both a rhythmic singer/songwriter and as an electronics producer. The songs are well crafted in both instances and his creative edge is really well sought out. Each song carries a certain swagger that is just plain cool. Nick Murphy has really opened up some eyes around the indie and also the electronic community and although he has a chance to be really popular on the radio circuit, his music is well deserving. I expect big things from Chet Faker as I really love his debut EP and I guess we'll have to see which way the wind blows for his future.
Fight Bite – Fight Bite:
So late last week, a decision was made to change the feature photo for Straight From The Teet. The decision was probably for the best as we are trying to bring a more professional image to the website but at the same time, it would be a lie if I told you I didn't miss those teets we had up there prior to the milk glass. I'm sure many of you feel the same way too as I know we have gotten lots of positive feedback about the classic Straight From The Teet image as well as Mash Up Mondays. When I was digging for albums to include with this week's feature, I came across the brand new album from dream pop duo Fight Bite, a band consisting of Leanne Macomber and Geoffrey Louis. Now, the album cover had a lot to do with its inclusion for this week, mainly because I think it is a good substitute image and even though I may sound like an immature jackass, it's cool. Aside from the album art, this album represents the dream pop movement in a very dark and ominous way. They seem to sound much like Beach House does but without the tangy pop inclusion. I love Beach House so to have gotten my hands on an album that was eerily similar yet altogether different was really an interesting moment in my music endeavors. On the band's self titled, sophomore LP, Fight Bite show off a real gritty edge when it comes to the bubble gum oriented dream pop genre. Most of what dream pop has to offer has been done from high-pitched vocals to ethereal chord progressions and although the genre is based around these types of textures, it's always interesting to find a band that experiments around them. Fight Bite make music that is very dark and ambient in nature. Nothing on this record is altogether happy as they instead elect to progress towards a more depressing side of life. The music isn't very captivating but what does shine on this album are the breathy vocals by Macomber, who is a warm surprise. This album wouldn't compete with a Beach House record but what it does do is open up doors for a new sub type within the genre of dream pop music. Regardless of whether you enjoy this album though, at least you have something to look at gentlemen. Then again, this site is for music, not porn.
MayMay – MayMay EP:
MayMay is a new artist from Arizona who was born Laurel Simmons. Her music began as just your average singer/songwriter who didn't really have major plans to break out into the culture of professional music. After years of being persuaded by her friends and family however, Simmons decided it was time to give it a shot. Her self titled EP is her first release and it shows a folk artist at her most vulnerable. The music is all acoustic with lots of room for her pleasant voice to fill the gaps. The songwriting is actually quite nice as Simmons sings about life and love and everything in between. She has a pretty unique gift with her song structures, creating very melodic poetry on top of some acoustic ballads. Her vocals are very reminiscent of what you might find in a dream pop band as her airy, ethereal vocals really hold down the fort atop her acoustic guitar picking. The songs themselves are not exactly much fun however as they are overcome with very melodramatic and emotional moods. The darkness on this record isn't overwhelming but it does employ you as a listener to be ready for something very heavy. My biggest gripe on this album is by far the music itself as each song really only incorporates the acoustic guitar. Because of this and the fact that each song includes a very traditional picking pattern that sounds similar to say Iron & Wine's version of "Such Great Heights", the songs really lose their inspiration and tend to grow pretty frail rather quickly. At times, I even had trouble knowing if the track had advanced because it seems like all 5 tracks on this EP employ the same notes being picked on the guitar. There is some very subtle background instrumentation such as a string section on the track "Ashes Rise" which I think sort of brought life to the album. I can't say I really loved this record but I think MayMay has a good deal of potential and maybe if she finds the right producer, her music will get much more layered and colorful.
Ty Segall & White Fence – Hair:
Ty Segall is the garage rock king while White Fence is the psychedelic solo project for Tim Presley. Presley is best known as the frontman of the psychedelic, shoegaze band Darker My Love, a project that is much more melodic then what Presley is currently doing on his own. Ty Segall has been making music for years with every last musician he could make contact with and for the most part, everything has carried a certain swag of how garage rock music should sound. This collaboration is genuinely a perfect match especially since both musicians have a way of really blending together all of their inspirations into a hard rocking concoction that is pretty mind-blowing. On their new album Hair, they proceed to combine everything from blues to psychedelic and from punk to pop music and the combinations are well shape shifted. Most of the time I spent listening to this record I actually felt like I had accidentally put on some obscure psychedelic record from 1964 as the recording is purposely made to sound low quality to give it that garage rock definition of sound. The main argument that people are having with this album lies in its songwriting as neither artist is much of a lyricist but at the same time, the point of this record was to create some monster guitar rock songs and I think they ultimately accomplish this. Although I often get lost in the essence of this album, I really enjoy the way these two musicians craft songs together as they are obviously on the same page as one another as each track seems to sludge around in its own filth and I somehow mean this in a good way. I am unsure that this album will be a significant stand out by year's end but it definitely will hold a strong spot somewhere among my top 50 for now.
Alias & Tarsier – Brookland/Oaklyn:
This project came about as pure chance back in 2005. Alias (Brendon Whitney), the trip hop producer from Maine, had just moved out to California to promote his bass driven electronic music. Although Whitney had his production down, there was something missing from his music that he wasn't able to put a finger on. His move from the east coast to the west coast was done in hopes to find some new inspiration and possibly figure out what exactly it was that he had to do to bring his music together. On the opposite side of the country in San Francisco, the same situation was happening with the young singer / songwriter / guitarist, Tarsier (Rona Rapadas). Rapadas grew up in southern California, singing in school quires and playing the grand piano before finally asking her parents for an acoustic guitar. Her influences were always within the context of rock music as she practiced doing cover songs for all the popular rock music of the 1990's. She would go on to form a hip hop project known as Healamonster & Tarsier, and eventually would move out to Brooklyn to continue creating music. At some point soon after, Rapadas got her hands on an instrumental mixtape by Whitney, who was now living is Oakland. Over the course of a month, Rapadas ended up writing lyrics to each track on the album and recording them, eventually sending the album back to Whitney. This was the start of a relationship that would eventually jump-start both musicians' career in the music industry. It was only a year later that their first collaborative record, brilliantly titled Brookland/Oaklyn, was released. It showed a massive jump forward especially for Whitney's music. The gorgeous vocals that Rapadas supplied for each trip hop track just sounded perfect in the scheme of things. This was a match made in heaven of sorts and the two hadn't even known what the other even looked like. The time spent sending countless emails back and forth and reworking songs over and over again through the internet ended up paying dividends. Their only album together became a true standout record for 2006, a year that music probably regrets, aside from a few gems anyways. Alias & Tarsier have since moved onto different projects but their album together continues to be the driving force behind their musical approach as well as their careers as a whole.
After very easily the best week of album listens so far this year, 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!