Bat For Lashes: The Haunted Man (EMI)
This is the time of year when there are not a lot of new releases on the market.
There are however, lots of left over albums that didn’t get a listen by me (and a lot of you too, going by the sales charts) during the end of the gifting season where way too many albums get released and consequently ignored.
One is Bat For Lashes which is the stage name for Pakistani/Brit singer songwriter Natasha Khan. She is quite well known in her adopted U.K. with her album ending up on many honourable mention lists for the best albums of last year.
Her sophomore CD, titled The Haunted Man, only made it to the #64 spot on the North American charts and probably some of those sales were based solely on the attention grabbing album cover graphics where a nude Khan carries an equally naked man over her shoulders fireman style.
Many have interpreted this as a message that Khan’s music is stripped down to more elemental sounds rather than the sometimes florid and over embroidered soundscapes of her debut.
Also many Brits still have a deep love of Kate Bush and Bat For Lashes sometimes sounds a lot like Bush on rustic/nature mother ballads such as Lilies, Winter Fields and Rest Your Heart where Khan references Bush with “you’ve been running up those hills.”
In short, an interesting arty-pop album with lots of ambiance and naughty lyrics that some fans have also heard a bit of Siouxsie Sue in the mix.
2Cellos: In2ition (Sony)
2Cellos remains the young Croatian duo of classically trained cellists Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser who adapt popular rock songs for their dual cello treatments.
Like Justin Bieber, 2Cellos became YouTube sensations before they got their recording contract after more than six million Internetters tuned in (to use an anachronism) to witness their interpretation of Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal.
Unfortunately YouTube success did not translate to CD sales where In2ition charted only as high as the #85 spot.
The duo swung wildly between the sublime re: The Police’s Every Breath You Take to the seemingly ridiculous re: AC/DC’s Highway To Hell that features Steve Via on guitar.
The highlights here include a take of Coldplay’s Clocks that features some superb piano by Lang Lang while Elton John helps out by singing on Peter Green’s gem Oh Well.
Other guests such as Naya Rivera (Glee), Sky Ferriera, Zucchero and Pink Floyd producer Bob Ezrine did not boost sales.
Interesting concept, however; and a bit of fun to play in the background and watch rock fans’ confused faces with covers from Muse, The Prodigy, Sonny Bono, Magnetic Fields, etc.
Chris Rene: I’m Right Here (Syco/Epic)
Chris Rene earned the third spot on the American version of The X Factor but impresario Simon Cowell signed Rene to his label based on raw talent and even more likely a huge dose of genetics.
Chris Rene is the grandson of famed songwriter and producer Leon Rene who wrote Rockin’ Robin—a big hit for Michael Jackson as well as scores of other songs covered by the likes of Peggy Lee to Louis Armstrong.
Chris R. writes all of his own material and this debut seven-song mini album showed a lot of promise even though it stalled at #55 on the sales charts.
Rene did, however, score a minor hit with the cathartic Young Homie where he addresses his past substance abuse and successful rehab that carries a lot of credibility.
On the pop, vanilla hip hop ballad Rockin’ With You, Rene blithely sings “I did my dirt but hey who ain’t got no past,” indicating he has his head in the right place for a good career.
Cher Lloyd: Sticks & Stones (Epic)
Unlike the three above, Cher Lloyd sold well, reaching the lofty #11 spot on the Canadian charts.
In her native U.K. Lloyd scored three hits off Sticks And Stones but I found this album annoying.
In fact, half way through listening I shut the disc down so I could listen to the second half with fresh ears just in case my meds were not working. But nope, the second session was no better.
Lloyd scored a sizeable hit with Want U Back with a sung-spoke style that I suppose passes for faux rap while the fizzy pop confection is immediately forgettable.
The rest of the disc is no fun either as Lloyd goads listeners to dislike her (she calls non-fans ‘haterz’) with snotty, punkette passive aggression that is really just a pose as there is no real substance to sell.
My guess is a one-hit wonder on these shores.