Songs | Lana Del Rey - Chelsea Hotel No. 2

After the American Idol appearances, countless magazine covers, and gigantic H&M billboards, it seems ridiculous that anyone ever had an argument about the indie cred of Lana Del Rey, or whether indie cred even mattered. Despite her Pitchfork-fueled rocket launch into the public eye, it's clear now that she's a much more natural fit in the gigantic mainstream overworld of pop music than some "authentic" singer-songwriter reimagined as a gangster Nancy Sinatra. We argued for so long about who she was and what was important, and the answer in hindsight was: none of it. The LDR machine would continue its upward inertia, regardless of the consensus of our thinkpieces, and become one of today's institutions in pop music. She is, pretty much, as close as we're going to get to Warren Ellis' horror vision of a pop icon virus in SUPERIDOL.

"Chelsea Hotel No. 2" is my favorite Leonard Cohen song. "Hallelujah" is a long thing to immerse yourself in, and as sacred as it can be, the intimacy of this secret ballad to a deceased love is more powerful to my tastes. When I heard Lana Del Rey dropped a cover on YouTube, my initial reaction was to cringe, but then I tried to suppress that reaction because I know that's just music snob bullshit.

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My 10 Favorite Albums, 2012

10. Tame Impala - Lonerism
When an album entitled LONERISM has song names like, "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards," "Why Won't They Talk To Me?" and "Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Can Control," there are certain expectations to its sound. I'm always down for the sadness — it is actually kind of obnoxious how down I am for the sadness. But separated from its words, LONERISM is a joyous album. Very few albums try to talk about these things like isolation and social anxiety in the framework of bass grooves and upbeat atmospheric melodies, and even fewer manage to be this infectious. Social anxiety you can dance to, it turns out, is a gleeful playground. LONERISM makes me wonder how I would've turned out if in my formative years I had found something like this album to express my teenage angst. I envy the theoretical High School sophomore that discovers this album, and learns to get pain off his chest with multicolored sunlight.

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Review | An Anthem of Forgiving

I first discovered Leonard Cohen sometime in 2006 during my freshman year of college. I had read a Something Awful article that called Bob Dylan "rock & roll's second greatest poet-who-can't-sing next to Leonard Cohen." I laughed, but I didn't know why. My research led me to his GREATEST HITS, SONGS FROM A ROOM and later DEAR HEATHER. Lines from "Chelsea Hotel No.2" and "The Old Revolution" would get stuck in the folds of my mind. I read Cohen as a very specialized songwriter.The lens of his poetry focused inward. His coevals would craft stories and extended metaphors, but Cohen used the mic as his confessional, and we were his priest. It was an easy in for me.

I had the pleasure of watching Cohen perform at Coachella in 2009. I couldn't stay for the whole performance, just 3 or so songs, but I made sure "Hallelujah" was one of them. It's over-covered and most people think of it as Jeff Buckley song, but to see the man perform it himself, on a massive warmly lit stage with a hushed thousand others was special. I was already a fan, but after that I became an enthusiast.

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