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: Brasstronaut – Mean Sun
TUESDAY: Ufmo – Soulful Joint
WEDNESDAY: If These Trees Could Talk – Red Forest
THURSDAY: Audio Dope – Chameleon
FRIDAY: Larvae – Exit Strategy
SATURDAY: Sun Kil Moon – Among The Leaves
THROWBACK: Jeff Hanson – Jeff Hanson (2005)
Brasstronaut – Mean Sun:
Brasstronaut is the relatively new project that formed in 2008. The band consists of Edo Van Breemen who plays piano and sings, Bryan Davies who focuses on trumpet, Brennan Saul as percussionist, John Walsh on bass, Tariq Hussain on lead guitar, and Sam Davidson on clarinet. Although all the members have a defining instrument of choice, all of them are able to play multiple instruments which makes this band highly flexible and experimental. The band has stated in interviews that their roots lie mainly within the jazz world which has led to many people being interested in hearing a sound derived from the roots of blues jazz. Mean Sun is the band’s second full length album and it shows a band that has plenty of ideas with an inability to really present them in a justified fashion. Their music doesn’t truly explore much jazz sound and instead kind of plays it safe with a more pop derived sound. Lots of the tracks on Mean Sun are ballad driven with lots of slow tempo efforts that build around some electric guitar and percussion. The energy that was supposed to take over this album ends up coming up short, especially on the second half of this record. The first half of the album is in fact pretty good. Although the music shows signs of ware, we are given some real progressive gems such as “Francisco” and “The Grove” where modern rocking drums and guitars combine with some trumpet and saxophones to bring in a sexy, oblique sound that sound much more jazz formed than pop. Other songs though such as “Moonwalker”, have the band at a standstill where they are trying to experiment into a more psychedelic space but it ends up being blurry and half assed rather than intriguing. The band shows some epic signs of creativity at times but at others they are the complete opposite and it’s utterly frustrating to the point where I just cannot understand the odd circumstances they put themselves in. I would like to see the band push for a more jazz driven sound with downtempo combinations and some progressive folk backgrounds rather than a botchy psych record that has trouble staying afloat. Because of the odd choices in sound direction, this album really drifted away and took a nose dive to the bottom of the sea for me.
Ufmo – Soulful Joint:
Continuing my escapades into the never-ending abyss of music, I came across another Russian composer who is known as Ufmo. His music is a combination of very groovy jazz music and instrumental hip hop. This blending comes together as being very dynamic and rhythmic and really fuses well together. I was unable to secure much information about Ufmo but as far as I can tell, Soulful Joint is the debut record. The album was an incredibly engaging first listen especially since it is lightning quick in speed. The record is 16 tracks but comes in at less than 35 minutes in total length. This is normally pretty unheard of, especially with electronic music in the realm of instrumental hip hop since most songs need room to breathe and let loose. Combining these elements with jazz, the short tracks become even more head scratching since this freestyle jazz concept doesn’t have much time to really bloom but somehow it all works out. The album ends up sounding more like a mash up even though the songs are original. It’s almost like some teenager took a bunch of really chilled out trip hop anthems and spliced them all together to form this one , soul track. I kind of like how this album was very short as it was a total joy to get through and listen to multiple times. It made my job of reviewing the record total ease and I was able to fully enjoy each bass beat and every melody put together here. Ufmo seems to be a very intelligent composer rather than just an electronic musician. He is able to put together old school jazz concepts with garage electronics and trip hop melodies to form some very nice anthems here. Track for track, this album really showed off Ufmo’s abilities musically and I look forward to hearing more from him, especially if he continues this progression of jazz oriented concepts.
If These Trees Could Talk – Red Forest:
If These Trees Could Talk are a young post-rock band from Akron, Ohio whose career took a massive leap forward after they self released their self-titled, debut EP in 2006. Since then, the 5-piece band has released two LPs, both of which have combined the origin roots of the post-rock genre with a more metal induced sound that has been made popular by today’s standards. On their newest record Red Forest, the band find’s themselves at a crossroads with their creativity as ideas ware thin but the upside is high since their gifts instrumentally far outweigh the bad. The album reads as a very epic story with lots of twists and turns and loud buildups draw to crashing conclusions. We’re given glimpses of subtle ambiance and silent desperation but we always get rewarded with the thundering climaxes that we had been itching for. The band really prove their wits as musically, this is by far the group’s best effort. Everything is done so cleanly and the production really went terrifically on this record from start to finish. The standout tracks really are made clear because of some amazing guitar work by Jeff Kalal, Mike Socrates, and Cody Kelly. Having three guitarists puts most of the emphasis of each song into the guitar work and it never comes up short. Some of the time it tends to be a bit over the top as blasting guitars really hide the ambiance of what is going on in between the notes where post-rock music naturally shines but at the same time you just can’t take too much away from these guys. Overall the album tends to sound much like any other post-rock, metal group around in modern music but it’s obvious these guys are much more talented than any other band. Still, they lack that final concept that would draw them apart from the others and because of this, Red Forest will tend to be forgotten about unfortunately. As the genre continues to fade, the music just squirms for one last breath of life and the only way to bring out its last gasp of fresh air is to bring in a new, unique quality that can redefine the way post-rock music is listened to. Until then, I can’t see myself really enjoying the genre like I did 5-10 years ago sadly.
Audio Dope – Chameleon:
Lately I have been finding a lot of very chilled out, electronic records that have been fusing together all sorts of genre into this single portrait of some kind of future garage jam. Audio Dope is an artist I came across on bandcamp a few months back but I hadn’t heard his new record entitled Chameleon until this week. The album is very interesting as it grooves with a lot of chillwave beats and plenty of jazz and trip hop. Others blends of music such as funk and even some conscientiousness additions of psybient and dubstep bring this album to some very colorful events musically. I think at times, this record seems a bit pretentious and overly confident but at other times these tracks really shine in high beaming colors. Tracks such as “Keen” and “On The Loose” really had me excited for their non-traditional sound techniques. Those tracks blended together chillwave and some really trippy electronic music to get a very psychedelic feel that still had dance and funk tendencies. Other tracks though such as “Chameleon” or “Power To Believe” had me feeling pretty bored rather quickly. Chillwave music does tend to bring out lots of boredom and as an artist within that genre you have to be careful not to stay too long on the same pattern or beat and instead change directions and progressions. Other times, songs tended to be far too short to fully enjoy. Lots of the tracks that came in at under two minutes actually had these tremendous beats but when they fizzle out in 90 seconds it’s almost impossible to really grasp the idea of the song and genuinely love it. I’d like to see Audio Dope release more material with a more moderate approach in his style, prolonging each track and narrowing his attention down to each song instead of putting thousands of ideas into one soul catastrophe. You can tell that Audio Dope is young and experienced so hopefully experience will being to take on and his music can only improve from here.
Larvae – Exit Strategy:
Exit Strategy was my introduction to Larvae, a 3-piece outfit that formed in 2003, The group is made up of Matthew Jeanes, Chris Burnett, and Bryan Meng and have consistently shifted towards making breakcore music in the form of psybient and sometimes almost trip hop. Some of their earlier albums such as 2006’s Dead Weight gained some pretty heavy exposure on the illbient scene as they combined lots oh instrumental hip hop with some ambient structures. Exit Strategy is an album that I was actually recommended by a friend online who said that if I was into trip hop music, this album was a must. I’ll listen to just about anything so I was pretty quick to find it online and give it a whirl. Now, I have to admit, my musical taste stretches thin when it comes to psybient music and breakcore or most anything in between. For the most part, genres such as those tend to be far too mechanical for me to gain a sense of interest in it. Beats are all so automated and just don’t really carry a sense of the naturalism that say a live drum set would carry or even a guitar or violin for god’s sake. Exit Strategy is plagued by this type of problem where each song is just a mess of habitual rhythms and it grinds you to the bone with mechanical nightmares to the point where you’re left feeling like you need an oil change or something. Even with some of the dubstep concepts that the band tried to force into this mess of psybient and illbient styled music was just downright bad. Although I am not the biggest fan of dubstep music, I know when the genre is done correctly and here it is just a slobbery mess. Nothing on this album really intrigued me at all and I was quick to find a way out. Most of it seemed lazy and just part of a boring, half-assed routine. It’s safe to say that this album will be at the very low point of my albums of the year list unfortunately.
Sun Kil Moon – Among The Leaves:
I’ve always loved Mark Kozelek, especially as a songwriter. There’s almost no doubt in my mind that he is among the best in the world in today’s day and age. He’s obviously best known as the frontman for Red House Painters, an indie folk band that kind of ruled the folk rock world for the better part of the 1990’s. After establishing himself as being one of the key players in the folk world and going through a rough breakup with Red House Painters, Kozelek went on to form Sun Kil Moon, a kind of twin like brother of Red House Painters. The music wasn’t all that different as it basically revolved around Kozelek sitting around with his acoustic guitar and singing ballad after ballad in the most lonesome ways possible. It’s always been more of a solo project then anything as everything else within each track is more or less just background noise. Whatever the case, Sun Kil Moon has become a traditional act on the indie circuit, putting out a pattern of decent records since the surmise of Red House Painters. Their newest album Among The Leaves is yet another record that continues the same old thing for Kozelek. Each track is him and his acoustic guitar and sounding as lo-fi as humanly possible with sounding like it was recorded by a 16-year-old in his basement. It’s funny though, because for the first time I am finally seeing the negative in Kozelek rather than the positive. Among The Leaves was apparently recorded without Kozelek going for his so-called “perfection” and it truly shows. The songwriting on this album is by far his worst, singing about such insignificant ideals including a portion of this record that revolved around his guitar and him trying to locate it? I’ve always kind of had a certain amount of respect for Kozelek and I still do, to the point where I almost feel it necessary to continue liking his albums, however bad they actually end up sounding. I’ve always given him the benefit of the doubt especially on records such as Tiny Cities or even Admiral Fell Promises, but I think I have finally decided that his style of music has been dragged though the mud one too many times. It’s all just so exhausting and redundant record after record that I just cannot keep up with it. Among The Leaves is the worst product that Kozelek has ever been a part of and I finally feel OK saying so.
Cats On Fire – All Blackshirts To Me:
I was made aware of Cats On Fire a few years back after hearing the band Burning Hearts for the first time. Burning Hearts is a twee pop duo made up of Henry Ojala and Jessika Rapo who formed while their bands were on tour together. Ojala is the drummer and mastermind behind Cats On Fire as he is a large part of the production on all their albums. His influence has been extremely prevalent over the years for not only Cats On Fire but also twee pop music in general. On the band’s newest release entitled All Blackshirts To Me, we are put right on a time machine and transported back to the year 1986 as the record takes influences from bands such as The Smiths and The Church but at the same time they are able to bring a pretty modern flavor to the mix as well. I was pretty excited to get to a pop album this week especially after a bunch of instrumental records and extremely sophisticated albums that didn’t really explore the word “fun”. Cats On Fire, who are natives of Finland, do a pretty good job of fusing together all of their pop influences but Mattias Björkas doesn’t seem to be the greatest of all front men for a band with such a high-spirited pop sound. His vocals are pretty dull and he doesn’t really seem to have a deep background with singing and because of that, he tends to lose key on much of the tracks and almost sound like a borderline amateur singer who has no idea how to stay on par with his band. The music on the record is pretty decent overall but they tend to lack some significant pieces here and there. Cats On Fire don’t really captivate me like Burning Hearts does but Ojala continues to bring a very suitable trait to all of his music endeavors. His brilliance behind the scenes further exceeds expectations and my fan-hood continues to grow. Even though I wasn’t crazy about All Blackshirts To Me, I think Cats On Fire are a very important figure in the indie world especially since they are only one of a very few bands that hail from the far off reaches of Finland. All in all though, this album is on the worse side of a score out of 10.
Jeff Hanson – Jeff Hanson:
Back before there was a such thing as Pandora Radio or SoundCloud, I remember always catching myself listening for new music through Yahoo Radio which at that point was actually pretty good. I found all kinds of bands through the then, free radio station that I personally created for myself including, Jeff Hanson. This was a time where I was going through a pretty terrible breakup with a girlfriend of 3 years and my emotions were obviously pretty depressing. I became pretty anti-social and was constantly looking for an escape in my dorm room, especially with alcohol and music. I never became an alcoholic or anything but I definitely became addicted to music, hence my job here at EARMILK. During that time was when I came across Jeff Hanson’s self titled, second album. The first thing I noticed about his music was the vocals. In fact, many people still have trouble deciphering whether it’s a female or male at the microphone but it’s Jeff. He was always known for his angelic falsetto vocals that carried a warm brilliance along with each lyric. On the album, these vocals really contribute to a very defining moment in his musical career as the album shows a darker, more personal side to himself. You can see his emotions at work as songs discuss depression and breakups but also delve into some happier moments too. The record is actually bookmarked with two of the saddest songs that I think, have ever been written, “Something About” and “Losing A Year”. At the same time they are depressing though, they somehow really open you up to the warmth of his music. His incredible acoustic guitar playing ultimately shines out in epic fashion to go along with his gorgeous vocals and we’re also given some tidy servings of violins and pianos to bring each track into one another. Jeff Hanson was, in my opinion, one of the best folk musicians of his time but he never gained the same type of notoriety that artists like Bon Iver have since gained. It’s kind of sad to think about that because if Jeff had released these same albums just a few years later in the midst of an online driven musical world, he would have been just as accomplished. His music got me through the most depressing time of my life and I owe him very deeply for that. Each one of the tracks off his self titled album almost acted as a warm blanket that shielded me from my feelings in the real world and even though they talk of sadness, it just helped me to relate. A few years ago, I awoke to the miserable news of Jeff Hanson’s untimely death in his apartment by mixed drug toxicity. It is still unknown if his death was non intentional or intentional but regardless, he left behind at least one gigantic fan who will always remember his music for being a very significant piece of his life and I thank him from the bottom of my heart for that.
After another interesting 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 week’s 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!