It's 1221


New Bat for Lashes “Two Suns” Bewitches
7 April, 2009, 11:27 AM
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Natasha Khan is a lonely girl inhabiting a dreamscape along with magicians, black magic, and raging fires. The Brighton-born, half-Pakistani half-English 29 year-old Khan unveils Two Suns as the follow-up to her 2006 debut album Fur and Gold on Echo Records.  One need not look further than the album’s front and back covers to figure out the concept behind the album: it’s Khan on the cover and her alter ego, Pearl, on the back. Actually, the blonde wigged gal was Khan’s party persona whilst living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The album’s release on Parlophone Records is Khan’s first for the major, and she manages to unleash a wilder nature and maintains the essential qualities at the root of the enchanting Fur and Gold. Two Suns is Khan’s continued exploration inside her hyperactive imagination.

The haunting “Glass” kicks-off the album with a steady drum and soars to operatic heights. “Sleep Alone” shakes and shimmies its way out of Khan’s dark recesses to fulfill her “burning heart’s desire.” “Moon and Moon,” which shares its title with the name of Khan’s ex-boyfriend’s band, showcases her flawless voice shining with tenderness. Khan’s love song, “Daniel,” is laden with tired lyrics like “when the fires came… [you] took me to the darkest place you knew and set fire to my heart.” Rolling into “Peace of Mind” with the clear assistance of Yeasayer’s Ira Wolf Tuton and Chris Keating, is a standout track with a gospel-esque choir joining in Khan’s reverie; it avoids grandiosity and ends quite stripped-down. “Siren Song” begins as a lover’s promise of breakfast in bed and to “be good,” but it evolves into an epic battle with Pearl and her wickedness tormenting and tempting Khan. Easing into another track about Pearl, “Pearl’s Dream,” is a funky electronic number with hand claps, fades out like a daydream, and marks the album’s shift to a groovier direction. “Good Love” is a reflective track and sounds expansive as her voice travels up the octave.  “I’ve seen so many planets dancing… I am one of two planets dancing,” Khan sings on “Two Planets.” At the piano, “Traveling Woman,” is an artist’s warning, imploring herself to listen “to the vision” despite all the distractions to “make you tired, tell you lies, make you fall.” Culminating in a duet with Scott Walker on “The Big Sleep,” Khan outshines Walker and seals the album in a disturbingly mysterious and dramatic finale.

Instead of seeing headpieces and tribal influenced garb as seen on Fur and Gold, Khan shunned those trendy pieces in favor of spray painted images onto her body and new-age paraphernalia like the crystal orbs on the cover and throughout the promotional video Joshua and the Bat. Granted, her style was aided this time around by fashion designer Alexander McQueen’s custom-made lace hoodie she dons in black for the cover and in white as Pearl on the back. The video, shoot in California’s Joshua Tree National Park truly brings out her hippy-dippy nature, and as much as she tries to be earthy and spiritual, she comes across as a little silly. However, Khan seems like a girl who never grew out of fairytales to weave these otherworldly songs. Joshua and the Bat’s DIY aesthetic reminds viewers that Khan is not seeking pop music superstardom and slick videos; it’s an intimate play-date with the girl playing outside in the sunshine and twilight. 

This album has truly beautiful elements and great delivery. Radiating intensity, Khan is making music and presenting herself according to her vision. Though her lyrics sometimes teeter and tip the scale to the cliché, Khan is mesmerizing and full of promise to cultivate her artistry to the level she clearly yearns for.  

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the list: a dash of folk and remixes shaken, not stirred

 

In the mood for a songbird to capture your heart with her painfully compelling voice bordering on delicacy and gusto? Go no further than Samantha Crain and the Midnight Shivers (awesome name, btw). I like the haunting images that she conjures in my mind and I was blessed with her voice via one of KCRW’s “Top Tune” podcasts this week for “Get the Fever Out.” I just can’t wait to source the EP The Confiscation available now, new album Songs in the Night out 28 April, and she’ll be at The Hotel Cafe the following night. Mmm, lovely. 

“Evergreen” by B’more group Celebration and the remix of “Hands Off My Gold” by Simian Mobile Disco. ELECTRIC. 

 

BK trio Tall Firs is playing this weekend at The Glasslands Gallery along with Celebration for the Williamsburg Weekend devoted to new fashions by local talents. I am jealous and have been imagining life in New York all week. Anywho, “If Sonic Youth is the primordial, towering redwood forest of the indie noise-pop landscape, then underground NYC electric folk-duo the Tall Firs are the newly rising evergreens nestled at the foot of them,” Harp. Then The Wire wrote, “[T]hese songs possess a sense of simmering tension, where lugubrious lyricism and instrumental drift do not detract from a poised delivery and a subtle but thoughtful use of contrasting shades. The acoustic-electric interplay suggests a kind of rootless, melodic modernity….” Definitely worth a listen and this is one of my most subdued picks of the week. 

Who is not enjoying “Enjoy What You Do” by Bay Area MC/producer Trackademiks?”Sounds like someone who did their homework,” YES!!!   And popular remixes: Shadow Dancer here; Flosstradamus and Sammy Bananas remixes, and “Topsidin” all free listens here. Push play and let the weekend drop>>