Thank goodness for the lone bedroom eccentric. If it weren’t for tapeheads recording every intimate detail inside their apartments, we would be stuck with more slickly produced, manufactured music. We wouldn’t have the desperate yelps of Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart. We wouldn’t have the often humorous confessionals of Lou Barlow. And K Records would pretty much not exist. But these hermetic artists unleash a torrent of joy, pain and unfiltered emotion when they hit that “record” button. I mean, sure, a lot of them aren’t very good. But the point is that it’s very genuine. Or so that’s how it sounds.
When I listen to TaughtMe, the recording project of Salt Lake City native Blake Henderson, I feel something real. Though his recordings aren’t as lo-fi as those of Sentridoh or Guided by Voices, it’s the overall sense of intimacy on ReadyToGoUnder that makes it so appealing. Amidst all the fuzz and white noise that swirls around is one person, committing his soul to tape with confessions like “When you speak it’s silent but when you’re silent, it speaks.”
On “Someone, Somewhere,” Henderson sings, “someone somewhere taught me that I was me,” alluding to his chosen recording name and declaring his individuality all at once. And in doing so, Henderson has confirmed what I initially thought upon hearing the album — he is unique. ReadyToGoUnder has a mood and identity all its own. Building powerful layers of sound upon the subtlest of acoustic melodies and Henderson’s own small voice, TaughtMe develops a sound all its own. Like a more kaleidoscopic Microphones or a less depressing Xiu Xiu, Henderson finds a niche in abstract mini-symphonies. The opening title track is an instrumental song filled with buzzing atmosphere, leaking into the following track, “Things That Really Matter,” a simple waltz that cascades into an enormous chasm of sonic bliss.
“Just Now” is a quirky, looping ambient pop track with a vaguely melancholic feel, while “More” contains a melody of chiming bell-like sounds. Henderson plays a more subdued acoustic ditty on “Heart,” but “Someone, Somewhere” is far more anthemic, as a hypnotic melody rolls atop a steady drum machine beat. And while TaughtMe never quite delves into catchy, radio-friendly material, every track is interesting and reveals little surprises around every measure. In a way, I’m happy to know that TaughtMe is just one guy. I’m not sure it would be as good if any outside input found its way on here.
Microphones – It Was Hot We Stayed in the Water
Xiu Xiu – Fabulous Muscles
Low – Trust
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.