All I can say is YES! Back in 2009, an eight song LP by the name of Seek Magic from Memory Tapes struck my ears and absolutely blew me away. To be honest, I became, and still am, absolutely obsessed with this album. Featuring a non-stop array of deeply thought out and emotional tracks like “Bicycle” and “Stop Talking”, the album is a 40-minute lesson on how to make a great album. Lamenting the fact that I wasn’t into vinyl before this year, I always browse my local record store hoping for a copy to somehow slip in. And believe it or not, a completely unused one showed up one day in the used bin. I basically shit myself on the spot, grabbed it, and ran home. I probably listened to it three times back to back to back that day. I’m not sure why this album gets forgotten about or doesn’t seem to resonate with everyone, but for me, it’s truly one of the best listens and most cherished pieces of wax I own.
During the summer of 2011, the long-awaited follow up entitled Player Piano hit the shelves, and for whatever reason, it just wasn’t the same for me. There were some great individual songs such as “Wait In The Dark”, but on the whole I just couldn’t connect in the way that I previously had. Perhaps it went a little too poppy and away from the large, momentous electronic moments that were so prevalent in Seek Magic. Perhaps it lost that the dark, mysterious edge all those first songs had. Or maybe Dayve Hawk just had a different inspiration and wanted to try something different. Whatever the case, it was more of “like it”, as opposed to, “love it”, experience for me.
But that Seek Magic feel is back all right. Memory Tapes dropped the first track off a new LP entitled “Shelia” on Monday, and Christ, is it good. Weaving in and out of vocal leads, electronic moments, guitar solos, tender moments of thought, and everything else you can imagine under the sun, it’s an eight-minute ode to the greatness inside Dayve Hawk. The album is entitled Grace/Confusion and is scheduled to be released 12-4-12 via Carpark Records. Take a listen below.
Written by Greg Dahman
Upon hearing of Brooklyn’s TEEN, you will likely be fed a shallow narrative that unfolds something like this: Rock chick leaves successful up-and-coming band. Rock-chick joins up with sisters and friends to form all-girl electro pop group. Look at them now. Aren’t they cute? (For evidence, see our Band to Watch post)
While this storyline is an accurate assessment of how Kristina “Teeny” Lieberson’s new project TEEN came to be, it fails to do their debut LP In Limbo justice. The album kicks off with “Better.” A song whose girl-power infused hook could be easily substituted for the shitty rendition of Irving Berlin’s “Anything You Can Do” from that old Mia Hamm vs. Michael Jordan Gatorade commercial. Yet, set against the backdrop of intricately woven synth and vocal lines and a foot stomping rhythm section, the chorus proves more irresistible than trite.
Follow-up “Come Back” is my favorite cut from the LP. The song turns the traditional narrative of the desperate female on its head. Here, Teeny spends the chorus begging for the return of a lost love. In the verses, though, we learn that her loneliness comes as the result of loving and leaving too many half-forgotten names on the road to now. Her regret stems not from whether she may one day find love, but rather the thought that she may have already cast it aside. A familiar storyline from your male rock n’ roller, but rarely one told from the female perspective.
Rather than present their brand of girl-pop in concise, pre-packaged three-minute infomercials, TEEN has chosen to challenge its audience. Seven of In Limbo’s 11 tracks stretch beyond five minutes. The band’s attempt to break down and re-purpose the traditional notion of a pop song is an admirable one, but testing the limits of listeners’ ever-shrinking attention spans proves a dangerous decision on a debut.
The B-side of In Limbo occasionally loses its focus, dissolving into trippy meditations. Even those moments manage to hit their mark on tracks like “Sleep is Noise” and “Fire“. The good news is that the few songs that fell flat for me on the album, I found captivating in the stripped down space of TEEN’s Secret Garden video session. Typically the reverse is true, a successful cut off the LP proves completely dysfunctional in a live setting. It’s an encouraging trait for a new band in an era in which live gigs provide the meat and potatoes and album sales increasingly cover dessert.
With a four-track EP and a fascinating mix tape of covers under their belt, TEEN is a band that appears road-ready from Jump Street. These girls have achieved an astonishing amount of depth both sonically and lyrically on In Limbo. This is achieved largely through a masterful layering of vocal arrangements and a relentless willingness to explore. Grab your copy of In Limbo from Carpark Records. Stream it in its entirety below.
Written by Rob Peoni
One new project that has steadily seized a lion’s share of my attention in 2012 is Brooklyn’s TEEN. The all-female project led by former Here We Go Magic keyboardist Teeny Lieberson was the subject of a Band to Watch post earlier this summer. TEEN’s ambient, experimental brand of pop is one that I’ve been lapping up with increasing fervor with each subsequent taste in the run-up to the release of their August 28 debut LP In Limbo.
This month’s appetizer arrives in the form of The Rumblette Mix Tape, a six-track sample that finds TEEN affirming the age-old theory that opposites attract. The group mashes a mind-bending set of pairings that range from Pavement to Outkast. For me, the mix really gains traction on TEEN’s cover of 1990s R&B deep cut “Not Gonna” by 702. Floating echo-laden vocals above a minimalist Aphex Twin backbeat gives the track a seriousness and beauty that the original was never able to accomplish. More than anything, The Rumblette Mix Tape confirms what we may have already suspected from TEEN: these chicks know how to stack sounds, however disparate they may appear at the surface.
Stream and download a free copy of The Rumblette Mix Tape below, courtesy of Carpark Records. The covers prove an interesting contrast to the first singles from In Limbo. Check out TEEN’s video for the album’s first single “Electric,” which debuted today. Aside from the song’s spaced-out ending, “Electric” feels tight and focused by comparison.
Written by Rob Peoni