Archive for September 24th, 2009






Inspiring headbands on girls with long hair and bangs around the world, Natasha Khan and her musical entourage return with a stellar followup to 2006’s Fur And Gold.

The album has been titled Two Suns and seems to be a loosely based concept album where Natasha Khan’s true self is in solstice with her alter ego character christened Pearl. In addition, Khan’s motives were to create a balance of earthy, desert themes with the street smart underground.

The artwork portrays this theme as the cover shows Khan dressed like a desert mystic conducting a séance surrounded by wax candles while holding gold painted models of earth and moon. Meanwhile, the flip side of the album depicts Khan’s infamous alter ego, Pearl, whose stance is similar to the mystic other half, except her playground is a scattered art workshop with busted televisions and whose religion centers itself around the lord of disco whose sermons she attends wearing a hip black shroud. I know, I know…Sounds like a kooky back story for media attention and mildly pretentious at first, however, after listening to the album over a dozen times I can sort of see where she is running with this concept.

We all have different parts of our personalities. Some we share with the general public, some we only reveal to our intimate partners and friendships and some we keep deeply buried within ourselves. Throughout Two Suns, Khan explores the characters within herself and exorcises herself out of her own depths in the form of Pearl. Musically, the record is very diverse and encompasses many different moods. The album contains songs that are perfect for an array of emotions.

Opening track, “Glass”, begins with Khan’s haunting vocals hovering under a sea of reverb and then fades into Alex Thomas’ tom heavy drum progression toppling over atmospheric and delicate arrangements featuring synths, bells, pianochord, saw and even the pale ring of wine glasses. “Sleep Alone” begins with a dark pluck of guitar that is reminiscent of a moody PJ Harvey song and then propels itself into a bass heavy dance jam geared for lonely hearts after a night gone wrong proclaiming “for every high there must be a low”. The album’s first truly sedimental song, “Moon and Moon” trades the dancing for a pity party of abandoning love through bad life choices. “Daniel” dries the tears through memories of good relationships and sonically sounds like a joyous revisitation of 80’s synth jams that everyone seems to gleam over.

Listen: “Peace of Mind”″
One of my favorite tracks on the album is the prolific anthem, “Peace Of Mind”, starting out slowly with a vibrant synth an aimlessly strummed guitar and then exploding into an uplifting gospel praised with the calming repetition of “Peace Of Mind”. Two Suns was partially recorded in the Californian desert near Joshua Tree and I can just imagine this song being the result of British raised Natasha Khan realizing the surreal beauty of the American desert…maybe even biting into an cactus for the extra boost as her vocals howl at the sunset.

Another profound song for me was “Siren Song” which explores the inner world of Pearl – Khan’s alter ego who battles between her own sense of good and evil. Beginning slowly with piano and extended vocal the song escalates into an emotional wave crashing down with triumphant percussion and restless strings.

Check out a fan made video for “Siren Song”:


Side Two of the record begins with the infectious pulse of “Pearl’s Dream”, an underground sketch city dance jam detailing the long and crazed nights of a wandering soul. The tribal battle ground of percussion in “Two Planets” suggests conquering the demons within. “Good Love” sounds like it could have come straight off of Bjork’s Vespertine record with it’s otherworldly halo of choral ambiance. “Traveling Woman” is a mid-tempo piano and drum jam that encourages a broken creative individual to never give up on their dreams despite the obstacles. The album closes with “The Big Sleep”, an ominous duet between Khan and additional vocalist, Scott Walker, who sounds like a choked up ghost that may even make the hairs on David Lynch’s neck stand erect.

Overall, Two Suns is an astounding sophomore effort from Natasha Khan & Co. It carries itself gracefully song after song and has a balanced mix of upbeat and slowly crafted introspective tunes. It also accomplishes Khan’s attempt to bring the listener into two worlds and explore their own inner depths. It is also an album that seems timeless and can be bring Khan into the future as one of the more important and steadfast indie songstresses of our time.

Furthermore, listening to the artist’s growth from her first record to sophomore success makes me very excited to hear what she will do next.

Read about other awesome records of 2009:


gaby: sometimes you are in your early twenties and you just date a lot of total dickheads


So I was walking down Bowery today–and dear reader, can I just take a moment here to tell you how much effort and anxiety went into the first sentence fragment of this blog entry? Whenever I talk about New York in a venue that is read/ heard/ seen by people who don’t live in New York, I get really antsy about coming off like a New York-centric asshole. Like, sure, you can say “I was walking down the Bowery, a street in Manhattan”, but doesn’t that make you sound like some guy who went to Harvard but refuses to say the word Harvard? “I went to university in Cambridge, Massachusetts.” Yeah, that guy. No one wants to be that guy! But then if you just say “I was walking down the Bowery,” you also run the risk of being a New York-centric dick who thinks everyone on earth knows what “the Bowery” is because it is a street in a place that is sooooooo important and of course you should be familiar with the highways and byways of my life because New York is sooooooo important. I mean, it is and you should be, but I don’t want to be a dick about it. So anyway, I went with the first way. The Bowery is a street in Manhattan that has traditionally been home to a lot of things like transient hotels and residencies for the homeless, and also places where semi-unpopular art forms were practiced, like CBGB, the Bouwerie Lane Theater, and the Amato Opera–all scrappy artistic operations performing works that the general public had little taste for, and all now closed so that the Bowery can slowly and gently gentrify into a place where all you can do is buy $700 shoes to wear around your luxury condo.

So, with all that information in mind: I was walking down the Bowery today after work, and saw some super obnoxious art by Ryan Adams in the window of this very obnoxious art gallery called The Morrison Hotel. The Morrison Hotel sells, like, fine art photography of rock n roll, but in an annoying way, like everything is really really expensive and they’re always having exhibits like “New Rock Photography by Joaquin Phoenix!”. And right now they are mounting some big exhibit by Ryan Adams, and you are a hip person reading this blog so I don’t need to explain Ryan Adams to you, nor why someone might totally hate Ryan Adams–I only need tell you that I feel Ryan Adams is a total douche and I am not a fan of his thoughts, expressed in any artistic medium. Did you know he also writes terrible books? But I digress. I didn’t go inside to look at his work, but some of his paintings were in a window–little painted people holding picket signs that said varied obnoxious things that were supposed to be ‘provocative’, I guess in the way that “the Man Show” was supposed to be provocative, i.e. displaying a totally mainstream opinion unpopular among people who are enlightened or astute or interested in culture or whatever and then being all “Ooh, did that scare you, little cultural elite baby? That’s because it was TOO REAL!” Anyway, the only sign I remember from the paintings in the window said “The Bowery is for bums, not art.” But you know what, the Bowery kind of IS for bums, not art!  So, though it was supposed to be ridiculous or extreme or whatever, that sign was completely accurate. Whatever interesting art was once there is now gone, so I would actually feel totally comfortable walking around with that picket sign, protesting the turning of a homeless shelter into a store where teenage Russian supermodels can buy Swarovski crystal-encrusted codpieces (note to New York readers: I still like the Bowery Poetry Club, though!).

“The Bowery is not for your terrible art, that’s for sure, Ryan Adams,” I thought to myself.  “Man, Ryan Adams is such a dick.”

And then I remembered, with a start, that he was married to Mandy Moore. I (like an ever-lessening number of women my age) kind of identify with Mandy Moore. Of all the Hollywood 20-something celebrities around, she’s the one who seems the most regular, the one who’s pretty good at a bunch of things but not that amazing at anything, to the point where you convince yourself that you could be her if you only lost 30 pounds, but obviously you’re not going to, because who wants to lose 30 pounds just to be the celebrity that everyone thinks is most like them? It’s called “Everygirl Syndrome” and it is what drove Katie Holmes into the mouth of madness! But anyway, so I have always had a soft spot for Mandy. I even saw “A Walk to Remember” in theaters, though I am a conscientious objector to both Nicholas Sparks and saving your v card until marriage. She strikes me as a nice gal.

I pondered the life of Mandy Moore out there on the sidewalk for a minute, trying to figure out what led her to be married to this complete a-hole Adams at the tender age of 25. And then I realized: Mandy Moore likes to date total dicks! The facts speak for themselves: among Moore’s previous public conquests are Wilmer Valdaramamamamamama (he owns all those annoying restaurants in LA with Ashton Kutcher that are like factory farms for total dicks), that tennis guy, whatever his name was (he seems like a dick–pro tennis guys always seem so mad for no reason!), Zach Braff (Zachbraff is Dutch for “dick”), and now she is married to Ryan Adams! And I realized it was a function of her age. For when I was in my teens and early 20s, I often liked to date dicks as well! It is a terrible time in a young person’s life, and often a time when one is interested in dating complete and utter dickholes, because you are still a few years away from realizing that dicks aren’t the only guys who are funny, and also that a lot of their jokes aren’t even that funny, and that they are actually mean to you a lot of the time because they are scared of life, not because you can’t do any better.

I thought to myself, “Oh Mandy! If you had just waited a few more years and not gotten married at 24, you would have realized there are guys who are also really cute and respectful who like you– guys whom Courtney Love will never accuse of stealing her money on her Livejournal! And you can date/ marry them! But now, you are stuck with a total dick, maybe forever, maybe just until you mature enough to want to divorce him. I don’t understand it either! But I feel for you. If not for the grace of God, I could be married to some guy who says funny stuff while we watch tv but then refuses to introduce me to any of his friends.” Of course, I am projecting here. That’s all that celebrities are good for, projecting. Mandy could be a complete dick herself, and she and Adams could be a beautiful match and love each other forever and birth horrendous, evil children who taunt baby dogs with lunch meats. But I would like to make a public service announcement now: if you are similarly afflicted with dickicus attractivus, as I once was, I beg you to wait until, at the very very least, your late 20s before settling down, or you just might get stuck with a total dick for life. Confidential to people who are agonizing right now over how your own taste in dudes is for ones who are total dicks–I promise you, if you are motivated, you can grow out of it. Keep working it, it works, etc. You hit your late 20s and it just kind of vanishes, maybe because you start being able to love yourself, I don’t know. Confidential to everyone else out there who has always just wanted to date nice people and never understood the appeal of dickhead guys: you can get married or whatever whenever they want (yes, I am telling you when and how you are allowed to become permanently partnered, because I am the total boss of you).

Man, writing is too hard. Now wonder I haven’t done this in months! I’m gonna order some pad thai.

Got any good leads?

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