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.
TUESDAY: Pallbearer – Sorrow And Extinction
WEDNESDAY: Kurtis Stanley – Time’s Flying
THURSDAY: Anathema – Weather Systems
SATURDAY: Frankie Rose – Interstellar
SUNDAY: Bahamas – Barchords
Horse Feathers – Cynic’s New Year:
Horse Feathers have been one of the most consistent indie, folk bands around since their debut album in 2006. The heart of this band has always relied on the soothing, breathy vocals of singer/songwriter Justin Ringle. After all, it was he who established the band as a solo project where he could release his acoustic, folk music aside from the plain indie rock that he had been involved with. The band came to grow very quickly and had substituting members on and off until the lineup was cemented just a few years ago. At that point, Nathan Crockett, Dustin Dybvig, Lauren Vidal, and Angie Kuzma had all taken on full time roles as members of the band. Their records have always remained in the same fashion regardless though. Ringle’s sad vocals have always been sweetened by happy guitar chords, pretty violin arrangements, and mixtures of fiddles and banjos that really give the band’s sound an independent identity. As consistent as all their records have remained, their music is anything but diversified. You won’t be finding much of anything new on their records such as electronics or experimental arrangements but it’s a pay off anyways as their music ends being some of the most intimate and beautiful around. None of this changes on their latest record Cynic’s New Year, as Ringle continues his motifs of sadness, lonesomeness, and destruction. On Horse Feathers’ last album, we were given a concept record of sorts as Ringle wrote and sang about falling in love, getting married, and then ultimately losing that true love to the grips of death. His depression over those stories is present in each song and once you’re able to follow each story within each track, you really start to understand that Ringle is one of the greatest songwriters in modern music today. Cynic’s New Year isn’t so much a concept album but it does tell stories of sadness and death. Although his lyrics on this record are sad for the most part, there are still sections of sunshine. The band continues to downplay the sadness with their beautiful contributions instrumentally. Each song carries a warm, heartfelt sense of life and the combination is as good as ever. The band continues to stay undeviating and although this won’t be a breakout record for the band, it just stays on par throughout. I still think Thistled Spring is their best effort yet but this one is still very cohesive at its core.
Pallbearer – Sorrow And Extinction:
When I joined the staff here at EarMilk.com, I was pretty surprised to see that there wasn’t much of any material that covered metal music. Now, in all honesty, I’m not a metal fan and in fact, I think there’s only a small handful of metal records that I particularly enjoy but when it comes to music, metal is a genre that needs to be focused on especially for its instrumental qualities. The few metal album that I do enjoy didn’t stand out to me for their lyrics or vocals but for its heavy sound that carried wonderful guitar pieces and tremendous percussion work. I mean, that’s basically what metal music has to be in a nutshell, something that will be heavy and electrifying. Maybe terrifying is another quality it has to have as I see most metal music as being very dark and gothic, especially within the doom metal or death metal sub genres. Pallbearer is a new band from Little Rock, Arkansas and their concepts are very traditional for metal music. I’ve read people comparing them to the likes of Black Sabbath and Isis but they are a bit more progressive. If you are to compare them to those bands however, you have to talk about the difference in tempo as Pallbearer plays with these very long, drawn out compositions that stick to a very steady speed in pattern. It’s almost as if someone changed the repetitions on your record player as Black Sabbath took a spin. The music though, ends up being pretty good. I have to go back to my comments on modern post-rock music though as Pallbearer sticks to similar themes musically. The long, patient build ups all come crashing down after 10 minutes or so and although its technically very gifted, it all just seems so outdone to me. I wasn’t really able to stay engaged throughout the entire record as by the time I got to track 3 or 4, I lost all excitement and found myself yawning. To me, that seems odd for a metal album. Metal music, in my opinion, should be something loud and heavy and just in your face, scaring you to death or pumping you up while in a defensive huddle on the football field. Pallbearer though, shows a different side of metal music and I’m just not sure it’s a side that is as intriguing. This album is more of a post-rock album with metal styled vocals and because of that, it just ends up being a tad forgettable and drudging. I’m not terribly sold on these guys but I think for the right type of crowd, this band will be a very exciting new outfit in the world of metal music.
Kurtis Stanley – Time’s Flying:
Back in 2007, rapper Kurtis Stanley began recording a session of songs that he had written out. At that point, the young MC was employed by Obtuse Music, a label that prides itself as more of a “movement that escapes the regular rap clichés that destroy modern hip-hop” then a simple rap label. For whatever reason, during the production of Time’s Flying in 2007, Stanley decided to call it quits with his label. After a brief break in his creative endeavors, Stanley was introduced to producer Kent Gillum whose background is overflowing with inexperience. Most of his work was as a mixer or engineer for very obscure artists, none of which I have found available to listen to. Whatever the case, Stanley saw something he liked with Gillum and the 2 made it their objective to finish Time’s Flying. Over the course of about a year and half, the record was finally finished. After 5 years, Time’s Flying was finally released in January of this year and the title was more appropriate than ever. As for the music on the album itself, Stanley is basically your average rapper. He has decent flow with his rhymes and lyrics but the lyrics aren’t very significant. Most of the songwriting is superficial about women, cars, and unnatural amounts of overconfidence that turns me off more than anything. Meanwhile, the beats kind of save this record from a suicidal, death dive. For the most part, the beats explore many different styles of music such as some nu-jazz and also some downtempo. Some of the samples on this album are great too as I even hear some Marvin Gaye within one of the tracks. These aren’t your average beats for a rap album but at the same time, they aren’t exactly A+ material either. At times, you get a true sense of the inexperience from producer Gillum whose beats sometimes miss marks and loops get worn out too quickly. The hooks on this album are rare and without a true sense of enjoyment from the instrumentals or the rap itself, it’s difficult to really have fun with this album. It’s funny to me that Stanley was anxious to be anything but mainstream because somewhere along the lines, he basically straddled the line between indie and mainstream. It was an odd listen for me as I never listen to anything this conventional and as I got more and more into this record, I found myself quickly becoming terribly disengaged.
Anathema – Weather Systems:
Great progressive rock music is ever so rare to find these days. Whereas in the 1960’s and 1970’s where we had countless acts such as Pink Floyd, King Crimson, and The Moody Blues putting out album after album of pure genius progressive compositions, the genre has slowly faded away. Sure, we still have Porcupine Tree and Opeth but beyond that, it gets very murky. Over the years, I have heard a good progressive album every now and again and thankfully I hear more good than bad but that’s only because not as many bands are doing it anymore. Progressive music has always been one of the most intriguing genres of rock music basically because of its complex makeup so I can understand that it’s become a tiny train on the tracks of music. Earlier this year I got wind of an album that was deemed “brilliant” and “remarkable” by a band known as Anathema. I was very quickly interested in the record as I needed to wet my palate of progressive music at least once this year. Going into the record, I had no idea of the band’s history or style other than that they now made traditional progressive music. After a few listens I became very enthused with their sound which, although a bit conventional, consisted of some very well written instrumentals and some substantial lyrics. At that point, I was interested to learn more and I was terribly surprised to find out the band’s history. They started out in 1993 as a death metal, screamo band. The music was breached by overused double bass and slapstick guitars that do more harm than good. The vocals were miserable as most were screamed out to not be understood by even the most adequate of listeners. It was a very stunning discovery for me as now their music is romantic, lovely and very peaceful. As far as vocals are concerned, Anathema now takes advantage of 3 different singers who all show signs of true expertise when it comes to hitting notes. Most bands do not evolve in such a way as this and it’s very honorable that they have. Their sound has become something significant to today’s day and age of music instead of being something monstrous and void of any true type of gratifying talent. Weather Systems is a very good album for the progressive rock community to fall in love with and as Anathema continues to age, lets just hope their abilities continue to blossom.
Tindersticks – The Something Rain:
Like Anathema, Tindersticks formed in the early 1990s as an art folk band. Their songs always revolved around very obtuse ideas and very subtle complexities within a folk driven approach. It’s always been difficult to simply put a label to their music as their ambitions have always counteracted the underlying simplicity that they originally had stood for as a folk oriented band. After years of critically acclaimed albums and film scores, the band went on a very sudden hiatus which lead many fans to believe that they were in the process of a full-time breakup. Stuart Staples, the vocalist and songwriter for Tindersticks, decided to try out his solo career which didn’t have the same effect as his band in any sense. After a few years, the band decided to regroup to record some new material. The Something Rain is the band’s third attempt at album making since getting back together. For me, as someone who really never fell for the tricks up Tindersticks’ bag, I wasn’t all that excited to hear the new album. After years of working at trying to enjoy their variegated sound, I knew that I was almost at the end of my string. Although my respect for the band is vast, I just couldn’t find a connection with their music that was worth sticking around for. In any regard though, I knew I had to at least try once more this year. The Something Rain juggles with the same sort of ideas that the band played with in their heyday from complex production sequences to unconventional guitar patterns. The album does contain a sense of jazz nature but in my opinion it just fails to really attribute to anything. Some of the tracks on the new album were much better then anything they have released since their hiatus but overall, the album just seems dull and cloudy. I might have a bias against this band but as hard as I try to really enjoy their music it just never works out. The few good things I have to say about this album probably lie within the production and also the vocals but in the end it’s nowhere near enough to save the album from another huge disappointment for my ears.
Frankie Rose – Interstellar:
Frankie Rose is a young musician from one of the indie capitals of the world, Brooklyn. Although she is young, Rose has tons of experience as she was an original member of Crystal Stilts, Dum Dum Girls, and Vivian Girls, all of whom have garnered great success in the indie community. As a solo act, Rose has blossomed as a dream pop singer whose music straddles the experimental breach mark but she sticks to her roots within the bedroom pop world. Most of her songs blend together tangy electronics with lots of reverb and delay effects but she always comes around with her pop influenced vocals and catchy song lyrics. At times, her new album Interstellar shows signs of 80’s nostalgia while at others, her experimental dual personality shines out and creates some very unique and experimental ideas. This year has been classified by many as “the year for dream pop” as artists like Grimes have pushed the envelope of the genre. If you read Straight From The Teet on a weekly basis then you must already know how I feel about Grimes but Rose has really accomplished something here. Dream pop music has traditionally been a very simple genre type but artists such as The Sundays and Mazzy Star have always overcome any negative criticism that fell with the word “simple”. Nowadays though, to stay on top of the creative scheme of things, artists are showing off much more unique aspirations as they delve further and further into their musical abilities and technical prowess. Frankie Rose is nothing short of ambitious or creative. She has an incredible gift when it comes to production and musical composition as her electronics create this incredible dream world around her lofty vocals. The album is a true ode to 90’s dream pop acts such as Slowdive who really paved the way for more experimental nature within the simplistic pop sound. Rose has a tremendous future ahead of her and this album shows a genuine promise.
Bahamas – Barchords:
Afie Jurvanen has been a pretty well established musician for years. His work has primarily been as guitarist for tour acts such as with Feist and Howie Beck but in recent years, his focus has shifted to his own solo career under the name Bahamas. His music can be described as singer/songwriter material that is mostly a folk styled, alternative sound. After his debut record Pink Strat was released in 2010, people really started to take notice in his guitar playing ability. The album, which featured his own fender stratocaster, was a vividly simple idea that just combined song lyrics and guitar. The surrounding silence became a continued idea for Jurvanen as he went into the studio to record his follow-up record, simply titled Barchords. The album, likes its brethren, contains minimal concepts and revolves solely on Jurvanen’s melancholic guitar techniques. There are some nice piano rhythms and subtle drums to help with the ballads but overall, the standout on this record is the chord progressions. It’s obvious that Jurvanen is a very intelligent guitarist who knows his instrument like the back of his hand but in the end, the sound becomes drowning and effortless. A lot is left to be desired as you continue on with the album from the first track to the last. My favorite part of the record is the use of some steel, slide guitar on the track “Be My Witness” but this is quickly tossed out the window for a more generic, chord suited song by the next track. This album ends up being as generic as every other singer/songwriter album out there especially when you think about artists like Timber Timbre or M. Ward. There’s nothing very unique or original about any of these tracks and this lack of creative ingenuity really holds the record back from accomplishing anything of great significance.
After the most diverse week of album listens yet, 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!