Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bat for Lashes

The hype machine was pretty fervid when Natasha Khan's Bats for Lashes dropped Two Suns early last year. But like most Next Big Things in the ipod era, it quickly quieted when the Next Big Thing came along the following week. I downloaded a bunch of Bats for Lashes tracks during her 15 minutes of Pitchfork fame, gave them a few listens and while I certainly dug it, I never really went back to it. It's not that it's not bad; there's some terrific stuff here. She reminds me of a cross between the chamber pop of Portishead and the likable weirdness of Cat Power. You could probably also throw Tori Amos and Kate Bush in that melting pot as well, or basically any other female artist that ever seemed as too eccentric for the mainstream.

There's an interesting cover of Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody" among these tracks and it led me to a thought. While the nicest thing I can say about Kings of Leon is that it's not really my thing, I admired the relative bravery in her covering a popular and contemporary song. It seems when a band covers a song, it's either a classic that they end up butchering, or a pissing contest to show off how obscure their cover choices are. So why don't bands cover more recent stuff? Dylan got covered all the time in his own time, and the Motown groups covered each other so often sometimes it's hard to know who recorded the song first. It seems blasphemous to cover Belle & Sebastian but couldn't a punk band go wild on "Get Me Away From Here, I'm Dying?" And why oh why hasn't a great rock-n-roll band tricked out "Hey Ya?" You would think it'd be ripe for interpretation. If this was 1969, every half-assed band in half the world would've recorded their own version by now.

And for the sake of duplicity, the Bat for Lashes songs in my ipod:

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