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.
TUESDAY: Dan Deacon – America
WEDNESDAY: Jens Lekman – I Know What Love Isn't
THURSDAY: Yeasayer – Fragrant World
SATURDAY: Dead Can Dance – Anastasis
SUNDAY: Bloc Party – Four
THROWBACK: Rodriguez – Cold Fact (1970)
Minus The Bear
- Dangerbird / Big Scary Monsters
- August 28, 2012
There was a time not too long ago when I was as a big a fan of Minus The Bear as you could find. I remember when I had first heard them back in 2007 while shuffling through Pandora radio. A few tracks from their album Planet Of Ice had presented themselves to me and I was totally hooked. Minus The Bear was like the progressive brilliance of Pink Floyd mixed with a remarkable math rock style that was totally independent of anything else up to that point. The band just knew how to make fun, inspiring music but still include a complex, unique way of creating each track. Maybe it was Dave Knudson's exquisite, double time guitar playing or Erin Tate's perfection on the drum set that led me to name the band as one of my favorites. Whatever the case, Minus The Bear truly had my attention and album after album I continued to love everything they thought up. That is, until the release of their 2010 LP, Omni. On that record, the band showed a massive change in sound dynamic as they almost totally left their math rock roots to achieve a more pop driven sound behind synthesizers and the album focused omnichord. The record ended up being pretty stale all in all as the fusion of progressive rock music and math rock was lost.
Sadly, I kind of knew that was the beginning of the end for Minus The Bear but even so, I was still hopeful for their newest release, Infinity Overhead. After all, this album was produced by ex-band member and Planet Of Ice's Matt Bayles so things had to be brought back to the band's original state, right? Wrong. Totally wrong. On this record, the band has completely abandoned any of their atypical time signatures and complex, guitar oriented tracks to focus more solely on rhythmic synthesizers and pop bullshit. Knudson almost doesn't even show up here except for on the track "Toska" where he brings his B game on electric guitar. Jake Snider, the songwriter and frontman for the band, seems to be having trouble identifying with his age as he continues to try to sing about the same themes over and over again. This album is truly a major disappointment in my eyes as the qualities that made this band so incredibly successful just a few short years ago have completely vanished.
- August 28, 2012
Really, to understand Dan Deacon's music, you have to start from the beginning, and even then, it's really almost impossible. Deacon has been making music almost all his life. He played in ska bands growing up and then moved on to some folk oriented music with Langhorne Slim as well as some punk driven guitar rock which he supplied the guitar for. Deacon though wasn't crazy about the average sound that he was a part of and it eventually led him to study computer music composition at the Conservatory of Music at State University of New York at Purchase. After graduating, he packed up and moved to Baltimore where he was begin a fairly successful solo career that blossomed around a cartoonish, electronic sound. Spiderman Of The Rings was his true breakthrough record and it showed a composer who was incredibly complicated. The album spit out sounds that were almost child-like or made for robots in a way. Deacon has progressed greatly since then with his 2009 album Bromst which showed a more calculated approach to the programming.
America is Deacon's newest album and it falls into the shadow of Bromst in a way as the production seems to be much more designed rather than experimental. On this album though, Deacon also explores relationships with instruments outside of the electronics realm as guitars and live drums play a pretty major role, especially on the first side of this record. The heavy reverb on this thing was a real surprise for me as it reminded me a lot of a heavy Ty Segall at certain moments. The album's title gets its name from the second half suite on this album which is made up of 4 tracks, each titled USA. On these tracks, Deacon really shows off some impressive talents as an electronics composer but my issues with this album certainly aren't made up for. I find myself very distracted while listening to this record and it might just be that my mind doesn't conjoin with the ideas put forth in Deacon's music but I just can't seem to grasp the ideas let alone enjoy them. This is extremely complex music that is arranged in such a way that you're actually meant to be driven crazy. If you're a Dan Deacon fan though, this is most likely an album you will indeed love.
I Know What Love Isn't
- Secretly Canadian
- September 4, 2012
Jens Lekman is an indie pop artist from Sweden who has made a musical living off of melodramatic, folk pop songs since 2004. His career has been quite successful up to this point especially as albums Night Falls Over Kortedala and his debut, When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog have captured a vast, cult following. His music has always been very relatable as the contents normally revolve around breakups, heartbreak, and general relationship positives and negatives. I Know What Love Isn't is Jens' first album since 2007 and follows suit for the most part. We had heard in some interviews late in 2011 that Lekman had gone through a severe breakup and that his emotional state was a daily struggle. The album would draw on themes revolving around this heartache as Lekman needed a way to empty out his thoughts on the subject. The album employs very similar song structures to Night Falls Over Kortedala as the folk songwriting is mixed with these twee pop influenced instrumentals. As I listened to this album, I was actually quite surprised by the layers of instruments that back up the lyrics as Lekman sounds terribly depressed but the music is totally the opposite. In fact, it's almost this twangy, uplifting bubble gum sound that for the most part, doesn't truly fit with the lyrical aspirations. A few of the tracks such as "Every Little Hair Knows Your Name", really gives us a realistic glimpse into the tortured mind of Lekman who oozes out this terribly emotional wreck of thoughts. As like all other Lekman albums, the songwriting is quite fantastic and this record even seems like it was influenced by some later Simon & Garfunkel, but I think the drawback is due to the instrumentation. Songs seem to throw up a flag to Lekman's sense of heartbreak and take away from the ultimate sadness that is trying to seep out. Lekman could have done this on purpose as to try and find a positive from a negative but this idea just didn't really work for me.
- Secretly Candian
- August 21, 2012
I remember when I had first heard Yeasayer's debut LP, All Hour Cymbals and thinking that they would be the next big thing for indie music. They had this perfect way of combining elements of electronic music with the hooks and rhythms of indie pop music and it just sounded so melodic and enjoyable. Their second album Odd Blood, continued with these combinations and even though the album was less consistent, it remained one of the better indie pop records of 2010. Fragrant World is the band's new album and after some slight band member changes, the band has totally reinvented themselves for the most part. On this record, the music is much more experimental than ever before and almost totally avoids any elements of pop themes or hooks in general. Instead, Fragrant World uses a strong presence of computer music composition. The electronics rule the realm of each track on here and without the existence of guitars that we have grown accustomed to with Yeasayer, the songs end up being much less provocative. In fact, the tracks are so riddled with electronic sounds that they end up being far too busy for us to simply enjoy. This dense form of electronic music is just to layered with sound after sound that it almost seems like the band got in way above their heads. This album is one of the biggest disappointments for me in 2012 right now next to the new album from Minus The Bear.
Ariel Pink's Haunted
- August 21, 2012
I'm not sure if there is any musician in the world who is weirder than Ariel Pink. I mean, his music is unlike anything else around in modern music and his thematic ventures are something that might only make sense if one were to take a few drops of acid. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti has been creating mind fuck music since about 2002 and their ideas have only continued to grow more odd over the years. Before Today, the band's 2010 release, was really their first major success but all in all, most of their albums have been critically acclaimed mostly because of the unique sound identity. Mature Themes is the bands newest record and although the music on here is a bit more subtle than Before Today, the psychedelic lo-fi base is still what drives the overall sound. The production on this record is definitely better than ever before but it doesn't challenge that sense of 60's bedroom psych music. Listening to this records reminds me of some of those minimalistic, psychedelic pop bands of the early to mid 60's who you probably could never pick out from a crowd. Somehow though, Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti makes every seem interesting while doing as little as possible. I think the first half of this album is much better then the later half but all in all, this is another very respectable release from a very remarkable lo-fi band.
Dead Can Dance
- PIAS Recordings
- August 14, 2012
It's been 16 years since Dead Can Dance last released an album, yet somehow, Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry have not missed a single beat. The two formed Dead Can Dance back in 1981 and released a handful of critically acclaimed records before calling it quits. After a reunion show, fans were lucky enough to hear the great news that they would be heading back into the studio to do a comeback album. The album, entitled Anastasis, really combines a lot of the duo's old styles with a brand new, more electronic blend. Over the years, they have been referred to as being a part of dozens of different genre tags such as ambient, ethereal wave, neo classical, dream pop, new age, and world fusion just to name a few. Anastasis follows suit with a very diverse variety of song structures. They still employ a very atmospheric and ethereal base to build off of but on this record they bring in some really interesting middle-eastern themes. The world music influences really stand out on this album, as do the vocals from both Gerrard and Perry who sound like they never took even the slightest break. I really love the ambient qualities that are brought out on this album as the songs just sound so organic. This is a very terrific story for 2012 as we have a couple of the greatest musicians of the 1980's returning to recreate their ambitious sound 16 years later. It's amazing that they sound unphased by the gap in time here.
- Frenchkiss Records
- August 21, 2012
Remember back in 2005 when this band Bloc Party came out of nowhere and released one of the staple indie albums of 2005? The album basically played on repeat at just about every high school beer pong tournament for the entire year and indie fans couldn't shut up about "how amazing" it was. I never hopped on that bandwagon. That album, Silent Alarm, definitely had a very fun ego to it but somehow it just seemed like yet another average, indie punk album. I never really enjoyed Kele Okereke's vocals or lyrics either as he always sounded non enthused by the music. The album did end up becoming one of the most successful indie records of the entire year and really started a fantastic fan base for the band from London. Four is the band's obvious fourth full length record and their first in four years. It seems fans have been split straight down the middle on the contents of the album as most people are citing a sound that has plainly devolved since their debut while other fans though or still enjoying the new material. I, myself, was not surprised by my lack of interest in this record from start to finish. Musically, this album explores some heavier styles with some explosive guitar and raunchy drum sections but once Okereke begins to silently sing his rather insignificant song lyrics, it really begins a massive nose dive. Most of the songs seem horribly void of any true inspiration and when you're hoping for a dance punk album but you get a dark and ominous alternative record, I can't seem to be surprised by the frustration in fans. There are a few tid-bits here and there though where musically, everything is right on par with their older material especially from guitarist Russell Lissack, who even plays a Stone Temple Pilots themed guitar section on "Coliseum". In the end for me though, I think Bloc Party is just another indie punk band that probably was made out to be a lot more talented then they ultimately had the ability to be. They will most likely forever be left in the shadows of their debut album.
- Sussex / A&M Records / Light In The Attic
- March 1970
Nowadays, if you're a music fan, it's probably part of your daily routine to use all of your technological resources, such as the internet, to find new bands who would probably disappear into the mist if you hadn't taken the time to search. This is me on a daily basis and I couldn't be more excited about my searches day to day as every now and then, I come across something so rare and plain great that it makes it all worth it. Back 50 years ago though, I can't imagine this process being even slightly simple. Personal computers didn't exist and musicians were scarce as the industry was only for the stars. Nowadays, you can record a whole album in your bedroom on a part time paycheck so long as you have some recording software.
In 1970, a folk musician by the name of Rodriguez had released his debut album, Cold Fact. The album showed off some amazing songwriting skills as well as a terrific acoustic guitar rendition yet somehow, his identity was all but unknown to Americans. Each song on the album revolved around lyrics about the working class poor in his home city of Detroit and they were incredibly significant during a difficult political time for the nation. After only two releases, Rodriguez basically disappeared from the world. Myths began to circulate that he had committed suicide during a live show on stage in front of an entire crowd while other thought he lit himself on fire. This eventually led to a recent documentary entitled Searching For Sugar Man which was released in July. As we have come to find out, Rodriguez is still alive and well and has recently made a comeback to music as people are now finally hearing his albums for the first time. This is a truly remarkable story about an amazing artist who is finally coming out of the depths 40 years after he last recorded an album. Fairy tale endings are always beautiful, that's for sure.
Albums To Look Forward To Next Week:
- Circa Survive – Violent Waves
- Sun River – Sun River
- Matthew Dear – Beams
- Meursault – Something For The Weakened
- Alpine – A Is For Alpine
- The Black Swans – Occasion For Song
- Swans – The Seer
After a pretty disappointing 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!