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10/31/2012

Bat For Lashes

‘The Haunted Man’

Parlophone

Bat For Lashes is naked on the cover of her new album. If that was the best (or worst) thing about the album, reviewing it would be easy. But Bat For Lashes — real name Natasha Khan — doesn’t make anything easy for people. “The Haunted Man” is creative, ambitious and all over the map. At its best — see opener “Lilies” or the heart-wrenching ballad “Laura” — the album is cinematic in its scope and feel. At its worst… well, the album never really goes south, but there are clearly points where Khan’s vision out paces her ability. “Marilyn” is a maudlin piece of fluff, and “Rest Your Head” sounds like a cute-but-uninspired aping of late-vintage Siouxsie and the Banshees. After three years away from the studio, “The Haunted Man” may not be the home run that Khan was hoping for, but it’s good for extra bases. CV

 

HIV

Neil Young and Crazy Horse

‘Americana’

Reprise

If you’ve been clamoring for an album where a rock icon covers Stephen Foster, then it’s entirely possible “Americana” is the rapture for which you’ve yearned. It’s an interesting, if completely unnecessary concept: Young digs through the attic of American consciousness and re-invents songs that are so much a part of our collective DNA that most of us know them without even remembering where we learned them. Young’s intent is obvious. By stripping them of their conventional melodies, he refocuses your attention on the actual themes of loss and hardship that dominated American song writing in the 19th century. Sometimes — opener “Oh Susannah” — the results are powerful, loud and fun. But just as often, Crazy Horse’s raw, unkempt sound drives tracks into the ground. “Tom Dula” is a bloated, eight-minute long mess, and doo-wop hit “Get a Job” is a curious addition that gets badly mangled in translation. CV

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