Tag: Leonard Cohen


    After nearly 20 years as Smog, lo-fi hero Bill Callahan has cleared the air. (Yes, this is what you come to Voice Choices for: The searing, unrivaled mastery of bold puns.) The folk-pop stalwart, who released some 12 boldly spare records under his solo pseudonym (notably, 1993’s stately Julius Caesar), is now happy to use […]

  • ‘Oscillations’

    Vancouver’s Circlesquare filters Leonard Cohen through dance music to craft something at once brooding and decadent; tonight he presents a special A/V show. Michna’s Ghostly debut, Magic Monday, draws on hip hop, horns, glitch, electro, and booty bass; his band Raw Paw will blow that up. Paris duo Zombie Zombie persuade Gallic oddities, industrial, and […]

  • Rise of the Anachronauts

    I call them anachronauts: performers whose core appeal stems from their ability to transport listeners to another time and place. Whereas ordinary pop stars strive to intensify awareness of the present moment so that nothing else matters, anachronauts use archaic language, modes, and instrumentation to expand our egocentric understanding of the present with illuminating reminders […]

  • Leonard Cohen Comes Back Around

    Depressed artiste that he is, proto-goth king Leonard Cohen labors over both his lyrically elaborate songs (which sometimes take years) and his life (it can also take him years to resurface), disappearing to study religion and find himself in the ’90s, but remaining essentially lost to everyone else. He’s been around almost three-quarters of a […]

  • He’s Your Man

    Leonard Cohen is long accustomed to the superlatives thrown his way—so much so that, in his early years as a poet and novelist, he escaped to the Greek isle of Hydra and lived in near-hermitage for awhile. But quite simply, he is one of the best folk-rock singer/songwriters of the past 40 years, the rare […]

  • Lit Seen: Michael Robbins’s “Alien Vs. Predator” Explained; David Denby on Snark

    The poet Michael Robbins, in the January 12 issue of The New Yorker, calls Rilke a “jerk.” The second stanza of “Alien Vs. Predator,” his poetry debut in the magazine, begins “That elk is a such a dick”—not “a typical New Yorker poem line,” he acknowledges, when reached at his home in Chicago. “Alien Vs. […]

  • James McMurtry’s Just Us Kids

    “We Can’t Make It Here,” the relentlessly calm, guitar-and-kickdrum-powered opener of James McMurtry’s 2005 album, Childish Things, was also the first shot of political plainspeak across this veteran singer-songwriter-bandleader’s usual Texastentialist panorama of gray-sky lucidity and neon highway jungles. “Cheney’s Toy,” the first single from McMurtry’s new (and built like a brick shithouse) Just Us […]


    There’s a certain depth to how Brooklyn indie rockers The National texture their songs that other bands lack. For all the comparisons to equally moody forefathers like Leonard Cohen, Tindersticks, and Nick Cave, the National have mastered the intangible quality that makes those performers great: restraint. For instance, despite having two guitarists, vocalist Matt Berninger […]

  • Jennifer Warnes’s Famous Blue Raincoat: 20th Anniversary Edition

    A year after the release of 1987’s Famous Blue Raincoat, an album’s worth of Leonard Cohen covers, Cohen himself gave it the perfect critique: “Very rarely someone like Jennifer Warnes comes along . . . who can bring musical qualities to the song that I can’t even approach. This superb sound that issues from her […]

  • Songs of Free Love and Hate

    Somewhere, it’s the witching hour, and a sad sack is holding on for dear life while Leonard Cohen, with his brooding, monochromatic voice, sings, “Well I stepped into an avalanche/It covered up my soul”—the opening line on “Avalanche,” the opening track on the masochistically delightful Songs of Love and Hate. Released in 1970, the lyric […]