Ether Teeth is the second album of haphazardly assembled folk-hop from Fog, an alias for Minnesota solo act Andrew Broder. Glaringly apparent here, as it was on last year's self-titled effort, is the fact that Broder is no revelation as a songwriter; he is, however, an adventurous manipulator of sound, often disguising his structural and lyrical weaknesses in enough intriguing tonal tomfoolery to keep things interesting. Unfortunately, he just as often tries too hard, front-loading his songs with jarring, "quirky" layers of unpleasant noise. Example: I kid you not when I say that one track, "I Call This Song Old Tyme Dudes," kicks off with the lines, "Aw crud, what a dud/A fuddy duddy/That's funny, that mummy." Pile on a deadpan delivery of the aforementioned groan-inducing wordplay, a grainy recurring sample of the "which nobody can deny" section of "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow," cymbals struck at odd intervals and some unnecessary scratching and out comes a song that makes for very disagreeable listening.

It's a testament to the scattershot nature of Ether Teeth, though, that Broder can follow that borderline atrocity with something so lovely as "Wallpaper Sink or Swim," an 11-minute piano-driven track that peaks with the album's most lucid lyrical refrain: "We're goats, we'll eat tin cans/We're carp, we'll eat tin cans." "Wallpaper" best balances Broder's rural turntablist taste for explosions of found noise--be it chirping birds or a chorus of kazoos or the open-mouthed chewing of gum--and delicate, minimally arranged in-betweens. The more I listen to Ether Teeth, the less I like it, but songs such as the album-opening "Plum Dumb," full of gorgeous guitars and anarchic whirring backdrops, suggest hope for the future if the yet-young Broder can learn to better separate the wheat from the chaff.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Ben Mercer
Contact: Ben Mercer

Latest Stories