RECORD OF THE WEEK
8 / 10
The Haunted Man by Bat for Lashes
Genre: Indie Pop
Natasha Khan, known under the name Bat for Lashes, dove into her ancestry before the making of this album The Haunted Man. One peculiar fact that intrigued Khan was about her war veteran grandfather and his suffering from post-war trauma. Her grandfather’s psychological frustration leads as a main feel in The Haunted Man as she elegantly channels the feeling of being unable to communicate inner conflict and finding comfort. She releases these dark, frustrating feelings by exposing them bare and open to the world.
Single “All Your Gold” powerfully conveys the heaviness of haunting memories through a contorting riff and rising strings. As Natasha Khan enters the powerful hook, she breaks down in confession of her previous demon of a lover making her unable to love anymore. Her confinement from ghosts of her past shivers with painful reality.
Khan keeps exploring her artful performance into another world. But the cosmic textures that filled Bat for Lashes is now grounded more earthbound, embracing closer to the human heart than mystic nature. The bleak piano of “Laura” speaks heavy as a contender against the dramatic swim of “Daniel” from Two Suns. And the anonymous imprisoned Laura feels closer to the heart than Daniel from a myth. The contained growth in The Haunted Man is not a constraint but rather a bigger leap of Natasha Khan into a deeper direction where each idea strikes with relatable impact.
SINGLES OF THE WEEK
“The Symbol” by Action Bronson
The other NY Hip Hop chef Action Bronson keeps pumping great releases this year from his all-out collaboration with Party Supplies for Blue Chips, biggin’ up his brother Meyhem Lauren, and now he’s got an Alchemist collaboration coming soon entitled Rare Chandeliers. And this video is a first glimpse from the tape. The Alc cooks up a classy Blues guitar loop in “The Symbol” that chops like the Wu-Tang for Action Bronson to do his mischievous deed. Bronson’s husky and stylish brag-rap stomps through brutal beatings that matches the East Coast cool that The Alchemist laces with the dusty sample. If you get a chance, catch the hilarious music video for this single featuring a blonde-wigged Action Bronson playing the gangster named “The Symbol.”
“Here We Go” by Christopher Owens
Christopher Owens shared his split with the band Girls earlier this year and left a void in the Indie Rock scene for a minute. This week, Owens came back to announce his release of an upcoming solo album entitled Lysandre on Fat Possum, planned to be out January 15th. In the words of Owens, Lysandre is a window to his moments when he gained fame and the overwhelming rush that comes with it (Read his full thoughts on the FADER). “Here We Go” twinkles in Folk similar to songs in Girls but more leaning to bright sounds like subtle xylophones and flutes. The singles reads like an intimate diary from home as Owens adores the cities he will visit as he travels. It’s exciting to see Owens still doing heartfelt music, and “Here We Go” is a nice preview to hold us over until the full length.
MIXED THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
7 / 10
The Man with the Iron Fists soundtrack by Various Artists
Genre: Hip Hop, Soul
Last week I wrote a praise on the Rae/Ghost/Kool G Rap collaboration “Rivers of Blood” for the RZA-curated soundtrack The Man with the Iron Fists. The other tracks like the surprise line-up of Meth/Freddie Gibbs “Built for This” and Kanye’s serious life introspection “White Dress” emphasized a promise. By the looks of RZA’s choice of artists, there were more than just status of each emcees included. Each featured voice presents a solid, dramatic factor. From The Black Keys drunken Blues, Pusha’s venomous flow, and Corrine Bailey Rae’s fresh and golden singing, they all contribute an impact needed to support a feature film. The info looked good on paper, but on wax it hit warm but felt like a bonus bundle lingering with a feeling that this could have been better.
While the Wu brothers walk over the martial arts blues with finesse, others like Pusha T or Danny Brown don’t move very fitting. Production in the soundtrack is nice kung-fu Hip Hop but there’s no way these songs will be in a film scene. Just give it a thought, because traditional kung-fu with a Hip Hop twist to me gives a cringe. It’s an idea that should be treated with humor and bit of naivete like the opener “The Baddest Man Alive” with a RZA braggadocio of “jump up off of the Empire State, butt naked.” In theory, this shouldn’t have worked for Wu-Tang in ‘93 either but it was just such a left-hook alchemy, it was undeniable. Some have tried, like The Man with the Iron Fists soundtrack, but no one really walked out feeling truly satisfied because we know where it all came from.