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bat for lashes - the haunted man
You can't judge an album by its cover, especially the art on little CD boxes. But it wouldn't be surprising if some people are buying "The Haunted Man" JUST for its cover. Naked except for a necklace, and a slender man (don't know if he's a band member) strategically draped over her shoulders, singer/songwriter Natasha Khan reveals herself as an arrestingly beautiful woman. And apparently strong, too -- as the man rests on her as though he were weightless. Could be Photoshop, but it looks real enough.
Fortunately, the music inside is equally arresting. While I can't say that any one song on Bat For Lashes' new album is better than "Daniel," or "Moon and Moon," from the previous album, overall it's a much better recording. Every track is good, and some tracks are great. Ms. Khan and her band have concocted a seductive blend of New Age / alt-rock tunes that whisk the listener to faraway lands and travels through time. "The Haunted Man" produces a visual experience as well as an aural one, with Natasha Khan's distinctive vocals always remaining the focal point throughout. Particularly evocative are "Horses Of The Sun," "Oh Yeah," "Laura," and "Deep Sea Diver."
I'll keep this one brief, to me Godspeed You! Black Emperor are the daddies of post-rock, they are absolute masters of building atmosphere and when they let rip it sounds like your very own personal apocalypse is blasting out of your headphones. Sinister strings, dread infused samples, evil sounding guitar tones - what more could you want from a symphonic instrumental rock act?
Ok, so even if you consider the two drone pieces included here as merely pleasant diversions the two meaty 20 minute plus compositions are all-conquering thundering behemoths of noise. I still can't decide which is my favourite of the two - 'Mladic' sports Middle Eastern riffs so ferocious in their execution they sound like they were written to snake charm Nessie while the last 8 and a half minutes of 'We Drift Like Worried Fire' might just be the band's best ever recorded moment, a truly astounding mix of military drums, eerily squealing guitar noises, soaring strings and ecstatic riffing.
It would have been a travesty if these songs had never been put down on tape and I'm so pleased the band got back into the studio after over ten years away to deliver the Godspeed goods. Go get.
A.c. Newman - shut down the streets
It's full of interesting juxtapositions of sounds: organs and analog synthesizers, acoustic guitars and autoharp. I worship "The Slow Wonder" and have really come to appreciate "Get Guilty," but after several spins I can't get into this one. The songs feel more personal, but the contrast between the cryptic and the personal is too off-putting for me. There are great songs: "I'm Not Talking," "Encyclopedia of Classic Takedowns," and "They Should Have Shut Down the Streets" are all terrific. The only song I find that I hear in my brain as I think of the LP, though, is "There's Money in New Wave." If you love A.C. Newman's music (with and without NP) as I do, pick it up. Just don't expect to be bowled over by it.
TAME IMPALA - lonerism
With their 2nd album, this Australian band has risen to the forefront of emerging bands ushering in a new age of genuinely psychedelic pop. They've created a place where bubbling harmonies flow like ocean froth in a rainbow splatter of shimmering love caverns. Like all the best psychedelia, the threat of chaos is ever imminent, but always held in check by melody. Imagine if the Beach Boys took just a little too much acid. This is beautiful, cinematic, kaleidoscopic pop
with an oscillating 60s vibration; high caliber conceptual tomfoolery for black light cloud-float pop dancing. Recalls bands like the Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, Dreamies, Small Faces, Bubble Puppy, the Beatles, the Nazz, Pond, MGMT, Baby Woodrose. Excellent happy merry-go-round tripping music for the brain-smile of eternal youth. Cool, yummy acid bliss-pop.
FlyLo ambitiously stitches together a diverse array of musical styles on Until The Quiet Comes to produce a mesmeric lattice-work of psychedelic wonderment; with winding basslines, stuttering drum beats, bright keyboards and pitch shifted vocals featuring heavily throughout this albums duration. Although that might sound like an unpenetrable and potentially alienating concoction on paper, Mr Ellison's consumate compositional skills bring all these disparate elements together, by filtering them through his unique lens of jazzy electronica much like he did on his previous opus "Cosmogramma". "UTQC" is an all together more apporachable work than it's predecessor though, with FlyLo choosing to create a lush soundscape of mind altering mood pieces with the aforementioned elements, rather than densely packing everything together to produce something as abstract and otherwordly as "Cosmogramma". Fans of electronic music in general should find plenty on "UTQC" to drool over, but those of you who have a penchant particularly for Amon Tobin's brand of Jazz infused breakbeat and/or Matthew Herbert's soulful microhouse will be especially taken by this albums three dimensional fusion of experimental jazz and multifarious electronica.
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