New Music 04/07: Bat for Lashes, Annie, Man Man
- April 7, 2009 4:17 PM |
- By Arts Online
Brighton, England-based musician Natasha Khan, aka Bat For Lashes, has released her sophomore album, Two Suns. (Jim Dyson/Getty Images)
The Bat goes on: When Bat For Lashes first made blips on the international indie rock radar back in the fall of 2006, many were perplexed by the act's boundless creativity. The musical pseudonym of one Natasha Khan, a stunning British art student with a penchant for both feathered headbands and the work of Steve Reich, Bat For Lashes presented an ethereal mix of primal percussion, raw string and piano arrangements, fantastical chants and swooping, soaring vocals, with lyrics that touched on everything from mythic horses to the madness of jealousy.
Khan's debut album, Fur and Gold, was nominated for the 2007 Mercury Music Prize and produced the killer single What's A Girl To Do?, a haunting song that suggested what might happen if Kate Bush started her own Ronettes-style girl group. The track was accompanied by an equally mind-blowing video, a twisted homage to cult film Donnie Darko.
Ever since then, we've been eager to see what sorts of (humanoid) rabbits Khan might pull out of her, er, headband for her next trick. Happily, that wait is now over. Today marks the release of Two Suns, the sophomore album from Bat For Lashes. We're thrilled to report that it expands on the majesty of Fur and Gold, with richer arrangements, more high-falutin' ideas (it's reportedly a concept album about the duality of self; Khan appears as both herself and as destructive hedonistic alter ego "Pearl) and those chillingly beautiful vocals.
Lead single Daniel encapsulates all the things we love about Bat for Lashes: it's a mystical, propulsive tune with swoony keyboards that evoke the best gothic fantasy moments of '80s art-pop:
Check back here later for more on Bat For Lashes.
All about Annie: A couple of years back, a Norwegian chanteuse named Annie (full appellation: Anne Lilia Berge Strand) melted the frigid hearts of North American indie snobs with a song called Heartbeat. A little bit Kylie, a little bit Cardigans, Heartbeat was an effervescent pop construction. Pitchfork liked it so much, they named it the best single of 2004.
The wispy-voiced Annie is back, with an appropriately gauzy dance single called Anthonio. If I had to liken it to food, I’d say it’s as sweet and light as vanilla mousse. (This is the first and last time I liken a song to food.)
Best to judge for yourself:
The full album, Don’t Stop, is skedded for a spring release. Cannot wait.
-- Andre Mayer
Hey Man Man, nice shot(s): Repetition-loving Philadelphians Man Man (their band members answer to names like "Honus Honus" and "Pow Pow") received mixed reviews when they released Rabbit Habits, their third studio album, almost a year ago. So why are we including these purveyors of zany everything-but-the-kitchen sink vagabond rock in today's new music round-up?
Because their new video for the album's title track is a winner. Rabbit Habits (the song) is a jaunty little lovestruck shuffle that hinges on simple plunking piano chords, sing-song verses and a subtle, snaky sax melody. Rabbit Habits (the video) is a heartwarming B-movie tribute about a girl (played by comic and Michael Cera girlfriend Charlyne Yi) who gets ditched by her doofus blind date (SNL's Fred Armisen) when he discovers she's a werewolf. Poor lamb (wolf?) tries to drown her sorrows in a pint of milk at the local bar, where she meets a kindred spirit (Adventureland's Martin Starr) with similarly lupine tendencies. And then...
Orton hears a reissue: Also out this week: 13 years after it originally hit record stores, Beth Orton's folktronica classic Trailer Park gets a fancy remastered re-release. Pitchfork has a thoughtful review of the Legacy reissue that puts Trailer Park into context. Here's the album's breakout single, She Cries Your Name.
It may have been more than a decade since I first heard the song, but it still sounds great and relevant to me. What do you think?
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