22.4.09

Battles and Bat for Lashes

I sometimes think that there isn't much worth discovering where new music's concerned: the wave of schmindie, bland acoustic wielders and post-Britpop guitar music that remains so popular little more than dull variances on old sounds. But then I realise that it's usually because I'm not looking hard enough, and beyond the blander end of the most heavily advertised and marketed music released each year (which, admittedly, isn't all bad), there's still some great stuff being made.

Two bands I'd recommend at the moment are Bat for Lashes and Battles. I've mentioned the former here before, the work of singer-songwriter and visual artist, Natasha Khan, and whose first album, Fur and Gold, narrowly missed out on winning the 2007 Mercury Prize. That album was a glittering, brooding and dreamlike-voyage into the unknown; a slice of glittering and gorgeous art-rock that bears partial comparison to Bjork, Kate Bush, and to Khan's talented contemporary, Patrick Wolf. To my mind, her latest album, Two Suns, continues with similar soundscapes, but hangs together as a work in its own right, telling haunting tales of lost loves whilst, in certain parts, adopting an alter-ego to add another dimension to Khan's lyrics. I'd recommend giving it a listen, with single 'Daniel' and a few other tracks on her MySpace page, here.

Battles possess a different sound all together. There debut album Mirrored, released a few years back, is a 21st century prog-album in the best sense: a sprawling mixture of epic drums, solo-driven, spidery guitars, electronica and bizarre vocals which holds together surprisingly well, and manages, for the most part, to avoid sounding self-indulgent or pretentious. I first saw single 'Atlas' performed a year or so ago, on Jools Holland's Later..., and was halfway to dismissing them, but the song grows on you after a few listens and before long, you're hooked. Check it out here if you're interested. You don't have to be a Yes fan, honest.

2 comments:

Roddy said...

I love Atlas - you have to give it time and listen wihtout prejudice, as George Michael once said to me. I'm not that keen on the rest of the album though. For a comparable 'big sound' experience, check out the track 'All I Know is Tonight' by Jaga Jazzist on youtube. As with the Battles, this is a radio edit with a band video of a longer version.

Ben Wilkinson said...

Cheers for the recommendation, Roddy - will check that out.