Albums Out 10/22: Bat For Lashes, Kendrick Lamar, Titus Andronicus and More

Posted by Billy Gil, October 22, 2012 01:00pm | Post a Comment

Album Picks:

Bat For LashesThe Haunted Man

Bat for Lashes The Haunted ManCD $13.98

LP $22.98

From the get-go, Bat for Lashes aka Natasha Khan is grabbing for the brass ring on The Haunted Man, declaring "thank God I'm alive" on opener "Lillies." Though she still incorporates the inward-looking, intimate goth-tinged singer-songwriter sound of her first album and part of her second, on this third album she engages in embracing pop in a way she never has, save for on her breakthrough single, “Daniel.” “All Your Gold” is the kind of shivery, evocative pop that Kate Bush pioneered in the ’80s and which has netted a bevy of recent followers (from Florence + The Machine to Beach House), but Khan does it better than most of the pack for her impeccable use of unforced detail. As on her first single, “What’s a Girl to Do,” she sings of lacking affection for someone, this time because of past injury — “today I was a dead girl walking,” she sings creepily amid stuttering guitar and a heavy dance beat that sweeps you off your feet. Similarly, the stunning “Laura” details a fading beauty or diva with beautiful tragicomedy — “you’ll be famous for longer than them, your name is tattooed on every boy’s skin.” The song’s subject remains ever elusive, yet you feel for her out of the burning intensity in Khan’s voice. Khan shows a knack for memorable choruses across The Haunted Man, even as she can sound distant and lost, creating an intriguing push-and-pull, from “Laura’s” “you’re more than a superstar” to “Marilyn’s” grand pop moment of “turnin’ into a Marilyn, leaning out of your big car” amid that song’s slow-motion synth-and-drum-machine fireworks. Because of the album’s immaculate pacing, where these high points are broken up by headier moments, like the warbling “Oh Yeah” and orchestral flourishes of “Winter Fields,” that you come back to once some of the glory of the album’s singles wears off. It's altogether one of the most rapturous and addictive listening experiences of recent memory, surely one of the year’s best.




Kendrick LamarGood Kid M.A.A.D. City

Kendrick Lamar Good Kid M.A.A.D CityCD $12.98

Deluxe CD $18.98

LP $19.98

Good Kid M.A.A.D. City is the sound of extraordinary promise achieved, as Kendrick Lamar, who rapped as an independent artist for years, releasing his acclaimed Section.80 mixtape last year and working with the likes of Drake and Dr. Dre, before releasing this, his major-label debut. Given that pressure, the most remarkable thing about Good Kid M.A.A.D. City is how relaxed and assured it sounds. Its first two tracks set the stage introducing Lamar as a kid from Compton as devoted to religion as he is to girls — “I am a sinner who’s probably gonna sin again,” he says on “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe.” That’s before tearing into “Backseat Freestyle,” a blistering, Lil’ Wayne-style track with production from Hit-Boy, known for his work on such tracks as Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “Ni**as in Paris.” From there, Good Kid M.A.A.D. City continues developing its addictive world of sound, moving into the affecting, detailed account of troubled youth, “The Art of Peer Pressure,” rapping over a Janet Jackson sample with Drake on “Poetic Justice” and taking a dip into the narcotic haze of “Swimming Pools,” evoking the weary, head-spinning world of partying night after night. Lamar even makes his seemingly heavy-handed 12-minute “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst” work, given its starting casualness — the gunshots that cut him off from finishing his “if I die before your album drop” line are so matter-of-fact and quick, they ring louder and truer than a hundred other hip-hop tracks utilizing the overused gun shot effect. Good Kid M.A.A.D. City is as intricate, strange and thoroughly addictive an album as anyone could have hoped to hear from Kendrick Lamar.




Titus AndronicusLocal Business

Titus Andronicus Local BusinessCD $12.98

LP $16.98

Digital $9.98-$14.98 (depending on format)

The catchiest song is called “Still Life With Hot Deuce On Silver Platter.” The kings of verbose, piercing punk epics are back on Local Business. They haven’t mellowed exactly, but Local Business is a more concise, less corrosive affair than 2010’s grandiose The Monitor and their blistering first album. Patrick Stickles sings more than screams here, and songs like the aforementioned and opener “Ecce Homo” supply whiskey-soaked riffs and social commentary, finding a halfway point between The Clash and Bruce Springsteen. On the surface songs like in “Upon Viewing Oregon's Landscape With The Flood Of Detritus” sound like reasonably conventional pub-punk, but they’re stuffed with details, though that song eventually gives way to shoutalong choruses of “Built to last!” and “Thrown away!” that make untangling the rest of the lyrics more fun — though such untangling isn’t necessary on the rollicking “Food Fight!,” which literally consists of those two words and a lot of “Personality Crisis”-style dude-glam vamping. Local Business certainly is Titus Andronicus’ most fun album, but it retains the cerebral core the band has always had, making for the most entertaining nerdy-guy drinking music around.

Cold ShowersLove and Regret

Cold Showers Love & RegretCD $10.98

LP $18.98

Now available at Amoeba is the debut record by Cold Showers. The L.A. band combines post-punk rhythms with shoegaze guitar to great effect on tracks like “I Don’t Mind,” which features vocals from Jessie Clavin of Bleached. Singer Jonathan Weinberg’s deeply intoned vocals carries the band through bleak soundscapes as on the the pulsating “So I Can Grow,” while the band pulls out melodic tricks on songs like “New Dawn,” which floats into your heart on the strength of its simple harmonies. Love and Regret is a concise statement that speaks of great promise for the band and cuts deep with its honed post-punk precision.


Out 10/22:


Gary Clark Jr.Blak & Blu

Gary Clark Jr.CD $12.98

Young blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr. showed remarkable promise before — on his The Bright Lights EP earlier this year he sounded like a slightly more authentic Black Keys. But Blak & Blu takes his retro blues-rock sound to the arena. There’s no resisting the smiling James Brown raveup “Ain’t Messin ’Round,” which could sell sand in the Sahara (but likely will be used to sell iPads or something) with its good-natured soul vibes. The Bright Lights EP standout “When My Train Pulls In” returns here, augmenting its classic blues sound with big rock drums and cutting vocal effect. The star, though, is Clark Jr.’s epic guitar solo, crying and squealing like a train stopping before slamming into a truck.




Diamond RingsFree Dimensional

Diamond Rings Free DimensionalCD $13.98

LP $19.98

Diamond Rings’ John O’Regan is smarter than your average boy diva. His sparkling electro-pop has just enough kitsch to grab your attention but just enough of the goods — musical variation and memorable songs — to keep you interested. At the outset, Free Dimensional is strong, if conventional, in its electronic pop construction, with “All the Time,” a catchy dancefloor love song, and “Runaway Love,” with its Pixies-style composition and alt-rock guitars nicely augmenting O’Regan’s surging synths and rockier vocals. Later on the album, O’Regan lets it fly a little looser, going full on new wave on the Human League-ish “Put Me On,” tilting West Hollywood on “I’m Just Me” and vibing on ’80s R&B with “Hand Over My Heart,” which uses the synth sound of Deniece Williams’ “Let’s Hear it For the Boy” as a touchstone. Though Free Dimensional can feel like a grab bag of dance sounds — some freestyle here on “(I Know) What I’m Made of,” complete with Neneh Cherry-style rapping; some Phoenix-ish modern dance-rock there, with “A to Z” — but O’Regan is adept at just about all of it (only his attempt at hip-hop, “Day & Night,” falls flat). The slicker sounds O’Regan embraces on Free Dimensional are mostly favorable, and even when overreaching, you’re inclined to dance along with him in the spirit of the album’s freewheeling nature. See photos from Diamond Rings' Amoeba Hollywood performance here.




Shiny Toy GunsIII

Shiny Toy Guns IIICD $13.98

LP $20.98

Shiny Toy Guns’ third album of spunky disco-rock introduces a darker edge to the band, though they retain their fun spirit. Songs like “Somewhere to Hide” and “Waiting Alone” imply loneliness and solitude in their lyrics, but they go for the dancefloor musically, with “Waiting Alone” featuring the boy-girl vocals and romantic longing of a Human League track.


...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead Lost Songs

trail of dead lost songsCD $13.98

Deluxe CD $18.98

I didn’t expect to like this new album by And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead as much as I do, but they’ve definitely made their best album since their classic Source Tags & Codes with Lost Songs. Dropping some of the prog schtick they’ve carried since then, Lost Songs appropriately puts the songs first — it’s almost like a concept album about them rediscovering their songwriting chops. There are some daffy moments, to be sure, like the Red Hot Chili Peppers-ish title track, but the album's opening cuts are nothing short of ferocious. The three-song run of “Pinhole Cameras,” “Up to Infinity” and “Opera Obscura” finds the band doing what they’ve done best in the past, tearing through their dynamic post-hardcore sound like it’s the first time, while “Heart of Wires,” “Catatonic” and “Awestruck” revive that energy late in the album with melodic punch. For anyone who’s been missing some quality Trail of Dead in their lives, Lost Songs is a treat.


Paul BanksBanks

Paul BanksCD $12.98

LP $16.98

Download $9.98-$14.98

The Interpol frontman releases his solo debut under his own name (he also has releases under the Julian Plenti moniker). Banks is spacious and atmospheric but still driving, featuring Banks’ heartfelt baritone waxing nostalgic over live and programmed beats on songs like “Young Again.”




Taylor SwiftRed

Taylor Swift RedCD $15.98

LP $19.98

Taylor Swift goes full pop on songs like “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” while keeping a banjo handy in songs like the pop-country, Target-touting title track.







Relevant Tags

Gary Clark Jr. (5), New Releases (214), Bat For Lashes (6), Titus Andronicus (3), Kendrick Lamar (58), Taylor Swift (7), New Albums (213), And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead (1), Diamond Rings (2)