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Archive for the ‘the Cure’ Category

This month Natasha Khan (AKA Bat for Lashes) has given us another beautiful record, entitled “the Haunted Man.”  And I can say with certainty that I am pretty much in love with her and her music.  For many reasons.  The music is nothing short of stunning: emotional, visceral, atmospheric, imaginative, feminine, often danceable, it harkens back to elements of 80s New Wave music, Peter Gabriel, David Bowie, the Cure, and Kate Bush…but Natasha Khan really has her own sound, despite these influences.  But she definitely comes from a tradition of theatrical British musicians.  I may lose people here, but her music makes me think of chilly towns in Belgium or France in autumn with grey skies and frost on the ground.  (Around the time I discovered her music for the first time in 2009, I happened to see “In Bruges” in a hotel in Mexico City, and I was totally fascinated from that point on…with Bruges and with Bat for Lashes).

I think as human beings, we are always looking for role models — regardless of our age.  For many, many years, Tori Amos was a role model for me — through my teenage years, through my twenties.  And much of her message and music, particularly from the 90s and early 2000s, continues to be a tremendous source of inspiration, personally and musically.  But what Tori has done in recent years seems to be steeped in glitzy appearances, crazy haute couture clothes, plastic surgery, far-fetched supposedly “feminist” themes, and often over-produced sounding music.  I mean, she pretty much lost me and so many of her fans the second she used the term “MILF” in a song.  I shudder.  That hardly seems like a feminist term.  (I still love Tori, btw).

But Natasha Khan is something different, and I think frankly, something/someone more like me and my best friends…and certainly more like someone I aspire to be.  There is a naturalness to her, a lack of pretentiousness, despite her rather dramatic music.  Take the cover of her new record, for example.  She is totally naked, with an equally naked man draped over her shoulders; she is carrying him.  She said of the shot, “”I think it freaks people out because I’ve got no makeup on, there’s no retouching. It’s super-raw and wild and black and white. But that’s what Patti Smith did, that’s what PJ Harvey did, that’s what all the coolest people have done, from my icons anyway.”  Writer Caitlin White (spinner.com) states, “…a sexualized female body has become a banality that doesn’t even cause a blip — but a completely natural, make-up free woman literally supporting a man leads to endless speculation.”

I’ve always thought that some of Bat for Lashes’s music reminded me of Kate Bush, and to be totally honest, this new record has lots of Kate influence.  The vocals, the electronics, the danceable beats, the layering of textures and samples.  The song “Lilies” (see link below) off the new record sounds uncannily like KB, particularly the vocal style.  But I feel like just about every female artist I listen to (Tori, Joanna Newsom, Bat for Lashes, Austra, etc.) gets compared to KB, which of course, is a huge compliment to KB and certainly a tribute to how unbelievably influential and revolutionary she was/is.  BUT it does get to be a bit of an old cliche.  Natasha Khan says, “”I think it’s really interesting, the way that you get kind of pulled into this group of female musicians no matter how disparate and eclectic you are, just because you are a woman. I don’t see male musicians coming out … imagine if all the male musicians coming out all got grouped into one group? It’s just like, really weird to me.”  She has specifically cited Robert Smith (yay!) as a huge influence on this new record.  And maybe I’m off base here, but I hear some Michael Jackson from the “Thriller” era.

Lastly, BFL has a beautiful, other-wordly quality, which is probably also one of the reasons she’s been compared to Kate Bush.  There is a mythological figure sort of aesthetic quality to the music, and the wardrobe…though this new era doesn’t have quite the Kate Bush winged-creature costume element that Natasha tended to exhibit back in 2009.  In any case, all of it is beautiful, in my opinion.

Oh, and she sounds AMAZING and IN TUNE live.  I also want to raid her wardrobe.

I LOVE the piano sample in this live track at 2:13

As corny as this may sound, I love when she takes her robe/cape off at the end of this one!…

Maybe the most beautiful track on the record.  Magnificent:

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Robert Smith and Tori are pretty much my favorite musicians ever.  I listened to them through the nineties, through college, through graduate school, through my twenties, and I still do.  I live a life surrounded by a great many “tee-tas” (snooty classical musicians who like to sing music to friends and colleagues using “tees” and “tas”) so these days I find even greater solace in the music that speaks closest and dearest to my heart.

This is one of Tori’s most beautiful covers.  So different from the Cure’s original version, yet capturing, I think, the true essence of what the song is all about.  It’s one of the world’s greatest love songs.  And both Robert and Tori’s ability to convey melancholic, earnest, profound feeling never fails.

Gotta admire Robert’s iconic high tops…and lipstick:

Beautiful Tori photo show, to boot:

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Circa 1982 (Pornography era)

Back in 2000/2001-ish I was asked to play for a band called Asciento, based in Boston/Somerville, MA, because they wanted to cover the Cure’s “Pornography” in its entirety, and specifically for the song, “Cold,” they wanted cello.  Being a long-time (and no doubt obsessive) Cure fan, and a huge fan of black leather clothing and dark make-up, I, without hesitation, said “yes.”  And I’m really glad I did, because it led to many musical revelations & interesting relationships from which I learned a great deal.

In middle and high school, I was a huge fan of “Disintegration,” “Kiss me, Kiss me, Kiss me,” “the Head on the Door,” and “Standing on a Beach: the Singles,” plus some others.  Some of the older stuff, like “Pornography,” was a bit too…well, I don’t know…it wasn’t quite accessible enough to my teenage ears.  A bit too dark maybe (hard to believe since I love all things dark, but really….this record is going into the depths of the darkest dark), a bit too repetitive in a minimalist New-Wavey kind of way…a bit too obscure with the lyrics, at least for my brain at the time…but through that performance in 2000/2001 and through just maturing as a musician and an avid listener, well, I just love this record.  Some of the songs have a similar rhythmic/tempo feel, so it almost feels like the songs run together a bit.  But I think that’s part of what makes it interesting.  I find it sensitive, angsty, depressing, torturous, moving, and fraught with the deepest feeling.  And it’s honest.  Robert Smith has always been tremendously honest, I think.  He’s not trying to be anyone but himself, he’s not trying to be trendy or to fit in with anyone or anything…he doesn’t really sound like anyone but himself.  The Cure sounds like the Cure.  No question about it.  And I think this record is unbelievably unique.  “Siamese Twins” is probably the most depressing song I’ve ever heard…but man, what a beautiful song.  The record kind of grooves on itself; it’s not over-done, there’s not a whole lot going on except for dense sound & grooves.  Robert Smith is heartfelt as ever, in the most honest way.  I think this record is a masterpiece.

What an opener (omg, holy 80s)”

Almost danceable…”Short Term Effect”

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