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 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: The XX – Coexist
TUESDAY: Pausal – Forms
WEDNESDAY: Azure Ray – As Above So Below
THURSDAY: Neil Halstead – Palindrome Hunches
SATURDAY: The Avett Brothers – The Carpenter
THROWBACK: Engineers – Three Fact Fader (2009)
- Young Turks
- September 10, 2012
In 2009, The XX ended up being the best surprise music had to offer for the entire year. Their self-titled, debut record was an instant classic, using traditional elements of dream pop and stirring the pot with some diverse elements of electronic, trip hop, and even some subtle dub step on occasion. Guitarist and vocalist Romy Madley-Croft really brought the record together with her singing around some very complex instrumentals that showed massive amounts of creativity. With such a successful debut album, the buzz is going to be almost overwhelming as fans and critics have been itching to hear new material from the band ever since. Coexist is the name of the group's sophomore LP and the influences here are quite different then ever before. Whereas the debut album used lots of very technical and powerful electronic arrangements that rode with tons of energy, Coexist dulls it down terribly. Most of the tracks revolve around very atmospheric, moody verses that don't carry much energy whatsoever. Upon my first listen of this album, I found myself thinking that this album seemed like one of those unplugged records that a hard rocking alternative band puts out during a phase of depression or something. Instead of us getting blasted with raw power, we are left drifting off into oblivion as the music just doesn't have the ability to hold my interest. I would have really loved to hear The XX tryout more trip hop beats instead with this record especially after their track "Intro" from the debut became such a massive stronghold for them but instead, they decided to simplify thing
- Barge Recordings
- July 17, 2012
Pausal is the name of an ambient duo from the United Kingdom which was formed by Alex Smalley and Simon Bainton in 2009. Pausal is an extremely traditional ambient group who thrives on atmospheric background music. Their songs maintain very elegant structures with sincere minimalistic qualities and stick to very long, drawn out track times. Forms is the band's third full length record and their style, although not evolved, has continued to perfect itself. The music on this record falls into a four track setting and includes some beautiful musical landscapes that are very formulaic. The compositions portray something that you might here in some kind of art film or even something you might find yourself hearing while stranded in the middle of the wilderness by yourself. The nature of each note gives this album a sense of congenital romance. These tracks are far from masterpieces, especially when you think about how much the ambient genre has continued to evolve in such a short period of time, but the music does tap in to a very emotional state of mind. The droning ideas here do blossom and ends up painting a vivid image of a beautiful afternoon in the orange twilight inside your mind. When music can achieve something like this, you know it's successful.
As Above So Below
- Saddle Creek
- September 4, 2012
Azure Ray is sort of a household name in the dream pop world nowadays. The band, which is made up of Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink, formed in 2001 and after releasing a trilogy of albums that all created a significant stir within the indie community, the duo decided to part ways to work on solo material. It took about seven years to hear another Azure Ray release and the hiatus seemed to do the girls justice. As Above So Below is the newest album from the pair and their second since regrouping in 2008. The album draws upon the styles that Taylor and Fink have always enjoyed, blending electronic music with a vivid, dream pop element that carries the atmosphere of each track. Taylor and Fink continue to sound genuinely gorgeous singing together as their vocals seem to intersect one another's perfectly. This has always been a staple of their's and it continues to be on As Above So Below. Unfortunately, this album reminded me much too much of The XX's Coexist, which I had heard two days prior. Both albums drawn on the atmospheric dream pop style but neither decided to bleed any color into their albums. This record has a few tracks that really defy this criticism but for the most part, songs just seem to float on by without any unique inspirations or ideas. I'm glad the girls are consistently making music together again but I think this album missed the goal.
- Brushfire Records
- September 11, 2012
Neil Halstead is the former frontman and founding member for one of the innovating bands of shoegaze music in the 1990's, Slowdive. If any of you aren't familiar with Slowdive, they were a 5-piece band that formed in 1989 and created three full length albums together, two of which have continued to be recognized among the greatest shoegaze, dream pop records ever made. Halstead was always chief songwriter for Slowdive and throughout his career he has been recognized as one of Britain's most respected songwriters throughout his generation. Slowdive sadly disbanded in 1995 but some of the members, including Halstead, would go on to form a new band named Mojave 3, a country folk band that didn't share much in common with their sister group. Although this project wouldn't derive the same sort of critical success as Slowdive, the band still formed a huge cult following. Halstead would eventually begin to record his own, solo material which he has stated that he wanted to try because he hadn't done so since he was 16 years old. Palindrome Hunches is Halstead's third full length record and the album is entirely acoustic folk with some alternative country influence. Halstead's songwriting continues to be a massive strong suit as his storytelling continues to grow. Musically, this is very different then what I expected from a former shoegaze star but I was actually pleasantly surprised. The songs are very personal and full of catchy hooks. In a year that has been almost entirely void of any real great folk music, Halstead has broken through the mold with his new record.
The Pineapple Thief
All The Wars
- Snapper Music
- September 4, 2012
The Pineapple Thief are an alternative, progressive rock band from the United Kingdom who have been releasing records at a consistent pace since 1999. Over the course of their 13 year career, their albums have always been pretty hit or miss as the material on each has never stayed at a consistent pace as their album releases have. As a big fan of all things progressive, I discovered The Pineapple Thief in 2006 with the release of their biggest and best album, Little Man. Since then, I have been following the band fairly close but over time, I have grown pretty tired of their style and sound. All The Wars is the band's latest record and it seems to follow the downward spiral that the band has been on for years now. The music isn't as progressive in style as their past albums and instead, follows a much more traditional, alternative style almost like something you might find on a mid 90's rock record. The most disappointing thing here has to be on the guitar sections as reverb is very over utilized and the progressive guitar components are left in the dark shadows. There are a few tracks here such as the intro track "Burning Pieces" and "All The Wars" where the draws influence from some of their older material but in the end, most of these songs end up being forgettable and too raw to be as majestic as most progressive rock ends up being.
The Avett Brothers
- Universal Republic Records
- September 11, 2012
If you're into americana music at all, then you're most likely a fan of The Avett Brothers. For years, they have made a living off of their style of contemporary country music that fuses together folk pop and a very traditional americana style. For me, personally, I have never been a fan of this style of music as I grew up in New England and not on a farm in the mid west. Banjos and fiddles just don't really do it for me normally although I am a huge fan of Samamidon. The Avett Brothers though have always received generally great reviews from critics and fans alike even in their most accessible of moments. The Carpenter is the band's new album and for the first time that I can remember, The Avett Brothers aren't getting rave reviews by everybody. After putting on the record a few times, it's quite easy to tell why. The music here isn't altogether much different then what the band is accustomed to playing but it does entail much less instrumentation then normal. Throughout the band's history, their music has always employed massive production with tons of layered instrumentation and experimenting with different sounds and combinations but on The Carpenter, everything is much more simplified. At times, I feel like I'm listening to a Jackson Browne record oddly enough as their pop influence seems to rule lots of the tracks rather than a country folk style.
The Fresh & Onlys have been rapidly releasing record after record since 2008 and most of them have been consistently pretty good. Their style of indie, garage pop is a pretty common device but they have found basic ways to keep their songs interesting and refreshing. On their newest record Long Slow Dance, the band continues to make mixtures of pop and garage rock only this time, the pop music is far superior to the garage roots. The tracks off this record contain lots of acoustic guitars and surf styled electric guitar fills. As the reverb has been almost fully washed out, the pop drum patterns have taken over. At times, this record reminds me a lot of one of those post punk records of the late 1980's while at other times, I feel like the band is trying to go for a Fleet Foxes sound which to me is very out of character. I think The Fresh & Onlys have lost sight of their image a little bit with this release as the music seems way too stripped down and far too technical to live up to what the band used to put out. Although I enjoy some of these acoustic pop tracks, I was hoping for something with a bit more angst and reverb driven guitar sections then something that is friendly and cozy.
Three Fact Fader
- July 6, 2009
Engineers are a fantastic shoegaze band out of the United Kingdom that have gone through some significant band member changes in their short career but have always stayed on par. They have only released three full length records thus far but their sophomore release, Three Fact Fader, ended up being one of the greatest records of 2009 beyond a shadow of a doubt. On that album, frontman Simon Phipps and guitarist Mark Peters decided to adopt a more electronic style of sound rather than the traditional rock elements on guitar, bass and drums. Three Fact Fader ends up moving in a direction relative to The Radio Dept.'s progression on their latest album Clinging To A Scheme in 2010. Both records create gorgeous, atmospheric shoegaze music a midst an electronic styled fusing that is incredibly powerful and unique. Three Fact Fader also incorporated some amazing samples of classic songs such as in their song "Clean Coloured Wire" which sampled "Watussi", a song recorded by the band Harmonia in 1974. The sample here is expertly crafted with amazing production and it ends up being one of my personal all time favorite samples ever used. Ken Thomas was used as head producer whose name you might be familiar with as he worked with bands like M83 and Sigur Ros, bands whose albums have always contained gorgeous production. This record remains as one of my personal favorites especially within the last five or so years and if you haven't checked it out, please do so immediately.
Albums To Look Forward To Next Week:
- Mono – For My Parents
- The Helio Sequence – Negotiations
- Band Of Horses – Mirage Rock
- Grizzly Bear – Shields
- Dinosaur Jr. – I Bet On Sky
- The Album Leaf – Forward/Return
- Menomena – Moms
After another good 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!