D é N O U E M E N T S

Bat For Lashes: “Laura” (Music Video)


A string of songs with names of people as titles: Fur and Gold has “Prescilla” and “Sarah,” Two Suns‘ “Daniel” and two songs about her alter-ego Pearl (“Pearl’s Dream” and “Siren”) and now “Laura” for the upcoming The Hunted Man. Natasha Khan has skillfully and sometimes peaks into laudability in projecting different versions of “herself” in her songs, herself as a representation of the way she sees herself, she is seen, hopes to be seen and even as the contrast of all these . It could be taken that the characters made up for a “concept” is one imbibed out of frustration, desires or foretelling fate. In any occasion, it is the practice of this that makes a musician’s work a lot less boring and self-centered, than, let’s say referencing “I” and “me” all throughout the record. This, however, does not mean that the characteristics taken into life by these projections reflect the reality of its maker, like say how Two Suns ventures into  cosmic-astro consciousness.

Except for “Daniel,” listeners are given a glimpse of that thinking, especially through Pearl where she is portrayed as a threatening yet loving persona— an inclination for affection but a powerlessness to her uncontrollable nature. “Till the siren come calling, calling/ It’s driving me evil, evil/ I was a heart breaker, I loved you/ The same way I do/ But I’ve got so much wickedness and sin/ My name is Pearl/And I’ll love you the best way I know how/My blonde curls slice through your heart,”  Kahn confesses in “Siren.”

I got into this thing again when I heard Khan’s latest “Laura.” The name title did not come as a surprise but the words and the sparse piano reminiscent of a delicate Antony and the Johnson’s song moved me.

As her most dedicated work to date, the track sets itself apart from former Bat For Lashes songs, devoid of towering percussions and mounting build-ups. “Laura” slowly forms a fragile center which the befallen star stands still, ageing, lost of crown and “stuck in a pale blue dream.” The former diva, alluded in its storytelling, has gone past the glitter of fame. Like someone very dear to her, Khan charms her about the days of her reign (“can we dance upon the tables again?”) and memories remain like a burning euphemism, she declares “You’ll be famous for longer than then/ You’re name is tattooed on every boy’s skin/ Oh, Laura, you’re more than a superstar!” 

The music video for “Laura” is directed by Noel Paul of That Go collective that visually explores the story within the song. A perfect companion, Paul’s work elaborates more with dramatic shots of Laura with whom Khan slow-dance for a while. Like a meeting of the present and the future, the dance works like a mirror which assumes that Khan could be singing a song to herself, a possible track to listen to when she herself has aged. Really powerful stuff to ponder about.

DOWNLOAD “Laura” by Bat For Lashes. (Updated external link)


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Naomi Yang for Julia Holter’s “Our Sorrows”

Photographer and musician Naomi Yang of pop duo Damon & Naomi landed the directing job for Julia Holter’s latest single “Our Sorrows.”  It is the second track off of Holter’s mesmerizing (and one of the year’s best) Ekstasis, an avant-garde work of a record that is brimming with obscurity and charm. Ekstasis, though I have not written about it before, never fails to take me by surprise whenever I listen to it, unfolding new angle or layering that I have not heard with the previous listen. The new single “Our Sorrows” is not far from that experience. In six minutes of Holter’s orchestration of tenuousness, Yang expands the song’s lingering “If you call out, I will follow you” call out into visuals of Holter crafting a yarn around the city of Los Angeles. The perspective of interconnecting various elements in her life as she goes through her day, with that innocent look on her face, translated into the song’s omnipresence and poetic subtleties “meeting at the bus-stop, the early morning look-out crowd, dizzy from the tire view – hear them call your name.” The markings created by her wandering from the urban parts of the city to the woods serve like hints in case she decides to go back. So many meanings on this one, really.

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Mombi: “Time Goes” (Music Video)

Becoming one of my favorite acts this year, Mombi please their fans once more with another offering off of their debut The Wounded Beat, an achievement of a record from the duo Kael Smith and Matt Herron. I have written about the band before but the pleasure of raving about them is always an opportunity. Needless to say, the record has been playing non-stop alongside another great discovery House of Wolves. They do not sound the same but they both achieve a certain kind of easy listening mood that appeals to people who like sincere and personal work like that of The Album Leaf, Elliot Smith, Conor Oberst and other lyrical artists.

This time, Mombi promote their latest single “Time Goes.” Working once more with “The Misunderstanding” director Manuel Aragon, the music video, however, is an animated take on the song. “Conceptually, the video is about the circular patterns in nature,” explains Herron of the clip. “Eventually, everything begins again and paper cutout animation helps convey this message of time passing slowly and quickly all at once.”

Adding to the that, “Time Goes” contains some parts of a poem written by Lynn Vanlandingham, Smith’s grandfather, in his 1972 book Alone, I Wait.

Mombi’s The Wounded Beat is still available in the band’s Bandcamp page with added perks worth having for their fans.

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Blanket Barricade: “X-Out” (Music Video)

An ambitious project of four-parts, Blanket Barricade are bent upon seeing through the saga that heralds the release of band’s debut Parade Bells this March 20th. A trailer provided a glimpse of the videos which was quickly followed by “Stray Shadows“. Now, it’s “X-Out,” the four- minute opening track of Parade Bells. Helmed by Marshall Axani, the same guy who framed the initial installment, the video for the song follows the story of a pudding shop owner who is saved from the brink of foreclosure if not from a mysterious present that she found at her shop’s door. A mixture of comedy and plain storytelling, “X-Out” continues Blanket Barricade’s design of entertaining and well-produced music videos to complement its forthcoming debut. “X-Out” is available at name-your-price on their Bandcamp.

Band Links: Facebook. YouTube. Bandcamp.

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The Little Hands of Asphalt: “Fitzcaraldo”

From friends in Norway is The Little Hands of Asphalt‘s new music video for “Fitzcaraldo.” Lifted from his latest work Floors, Vonnegut-quoting Sjur Lyseid’s one-man show LHoA was first introduced to me through a copy of the fantastic 2009 free EP Spit Back at the Rain.

Putting on a different shoe from his other band Monzano, Lyseid dons a singer-songwriter persona that rings of Conor Oberst (See “Love Song for Young Novelists“) and Elliot Smith’s wordy, highly-personal narratives. It turns out that picking up the guitar for some acoustic, feathery pop gems turned out right for Lyseid who sees the follow-up Floors to a wider audience outside of the Scandinavian music capital.

According to Lyseid, the title is from 1982 Werner Herzog film about an opera-loving rubber business heir.

“Fitzcaraldo” in its jaunty hooks of piano, drums and strings celebrates the very nature of touring; the sense of exciting abandonment accessed, probably by his own experience, only by the uncertainties of playing city after city as they “pack our guitars, plunge into the night with our knitwear and hungry hearts.” More literal hints are thrown throughout the song but the music video is a party on its own.

Framed by Synne Øverland Knutsen, one half of the team Apparatet, she called forth the power of memory and music for the video by assembling three musicians on the project of proving that the body gets old but the mind ceases to age. Images of childhood and loss are juxtaposed to resurgences of the spirit— picking up a learned instrument, dressing up for characters, dancing, and yes, rocking it out with the band! Worthy of pressing play more than once.

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