The Drop

By By Chase Straight & Trevor Hale

By Chase Straight & Trevor Hale

Bat For Lashes
Two Suns
Astralwerks (US)

If 2008 was the year of M.I.A., then 2009 might very well be the year of Bat For Lashes. The pseudonym for English-born Natasha Khan, Bat for Lashes released Fur and Gold in 2007 to much critical acclaim in the U.K. After doing incredible cover songs of the Cure’s “A Forest” and Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody,” she dropped Two Suns, making a positive sophomoric statement that she is here to make waves. Bat for Lashes could turn a Sex Pistols song into a sultry, steaming bedroom tune. Like the beautiful voices of Nouvelle Vague or Elysian Fields singer Jennifer Charles, Khan’s has the power to take over a song and captivate the listener no matter how subtle the melody. The lead single “Daniel” is haunting, Khan’s ectoplasmic crooning gliding in and out of ghostly vibrations. Although she is just starting to eke her way into the U.S. music scene, expect Bat for Lashes to be making a big splash any day now. – CS

Last Gang Records

Broken Social Scene has spawned numerous independent acts8212;Feist, Stars, The Weakerthans and the immensely talented Metric, just to name a few. I might be committing indie scene blasphemy, but every one of these bands sounds better than the “supergroup” they came out of. Metric’s latest release, Fantasies, is a blitz of hammering, funkalicious electro-pop glazed over with vocalist Emily Haine’s deeply fluffy salutations to indie paradise. Although the songs are driving, there are no rough edges in Metric’s delicious mix of indie-electro power-rock. This whole album goes along with my theory that all bands should just invent their own genre and go with it instead of digging into the endless pile of subgenres that music writers have been inventing in the past decade. I guess the only problem with the album would go along these lines8212;that some songs seem like they can’t decide what they’re going to do. Is it dance or is it avant-garde? Regardless of the confusion, they all sound great together and are a must-have for any serious music collector. – CS

Crack the Skye
Warner Bros.

Mastodon has been one of the best metal bands of the past decade and the band’s newest release, Crack the Skye, only serves to reaffirm this. Content with not repeating what they’ve done in the past, the band moves further in the direction of sprawling, epic prog-rock but still retains the same heavy metal feel of previous albums. With Crack the Skye, Mastodon has become even more inventive, a feat no one thought possible. But only a deranged genius like Brent Hinds would be able to effortlessly incorporate a finger-picked banjo into a song as devastatingly heavy and brutal as “Divinations.” Other standout tracks (of which there are only seven) are the 11-minute “The Czar” and the 13-minute album-closer “The Last Baron.” Crack the Skye is more polished than past releases, but Mastodon is still the same band they used to be8212;they’re just getting better. – TH