By: Andrew McNallyColumnist
Bat For Lashes – “The Haunted Man” Grade: B+
Bat For Lashes’ new album encapsulates what singer and songwriter Natasha Khan does best: seamless transitions between haunting indie melodies and folk-inspired alt-pop blasts. As the intense opener “Lilies” ends and the almost bouncy percussion of “All Your Gold” kicks in, you’ll realize how varied she can be. At times, you’ll be thinking of a mid-90’s Bjork at her peak. Bat For Lashes had already established Khan as one of the better underground indie singers and “The Haunted Man” is another notch in that reputation. There’s nothing too original, but it is indie-pop at its finest.
If You Like: Bjork, Fiona Apple Key Track: Marilyn
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – “Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!” Grade: B+
Clocking in at 53 minutes and four songs long, GY!BE prove that sometimes bands don’t change. Their first album in 10 years is just as inaccessible and odd as before. Two tracks clock in at just shy of 20 minutes, and one of the “shorter” tracks is almost entirely bagpipe drone. Yet, as always, there is something encompassing about all of it. The album exists as a midpoint between the band’s strangest and least strange works, like a retrospective work. If you’re all right with instrumental music, you’ll get swept into this album, with four tracks that grow continuously intense and suck you in inexplicably.
If You Like: : Sonic Youth, Slint Key Track: Mladic
Anberlin – “Vital” Grade: B-
Anberlin announced that their new album was going to have a “youthful” feel, a dangerous thing to say when you’re a lyrically optimistic, Christian-emo-pseudo…thing. But they actually delivered with a fairly decent album not unlike Blink-182’s self-titled album from 2004. The best tracks are fast and loud, akin to whatever pop-punk band you’re currently defending. Singer Stephen Christian (actual name) is still belting in his strong, unique voice you heard on MTV2 a few years ago. The slower tracks are youthful in lyric, but musically are pretty cheesy and dull. Still, it’s a strong pop-punk album.
If You Like: Saosin, blink-182 Key track: Self-Starter