I just wanted to interrupt your gaming for a brief public service announcement. If you don't have Leonard Cohen's new album, "Ten New Songs," you really need to put DAOC or Civ3 down for a few minutes and go get it. It is quite possibly the best recorded album of the past 5 years. At least.
Ok, that's it. Back to whatever it is you were doing.
By TomChick on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 01:26 pm:
Ugh, if the new songs are anything like Jazz Police, I think I'll pass.
First we take Manhattan...
By SiNNER 3001 on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 02:46 pm:
Does he sing or does that lady co-writer of his do the singing? Given her prominent placement on the cover, I was wondering.
By Bruce_Geryk (Bruce) on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 04:04 pm:
Sharon Robinson arranged and produced the album, and sings backup on all of the tracks. As a friend of mine put it, calling what Cohen does on this album might be a bit generous. But it's still a great album. Tom, it sounds nothing like Jazz Police, or anything else on "I'm Your Man," either. I don't like Jazz Police, but I do like a few of the lines. I reiterate: "Ten New Songs" is fantastic.
By Chris Floyd on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 04:25 pm:
I'm a big Cohen fan, both of his early and later work (you know, pre- and post-deep-voice, since we all categorize it that way, don't we?). I was curious about the new album, listened to the teaser tracks on Amazon, heard an NPR review about it... and still I'm undecided based on what little I've heard.
I admit I've always been a little more fond of the acoustic guitar sound of "Songs" over the synthy "I'm Your Man," even though the songwriting -- regardless of instrumentation -- makes it all worthwhile. (I admit, I think REM's version of "First We Take Manhattan" is probably superior, though, because of the instrumentation).
But I wonder about the plinky Casio sound that seems to be back in full force on this album. First of all, is it really as prevalent as it seems? And second of all, how the heck can someone get away with relying on that sound in an album released in 2001? I'm all in favor of experimentation, but this seems like stubborn or unthinking stuck-ness rather than experimentation.
So, Bruce, any chance you can describe why it's so great?
By Brett Todd on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 04:37 pm:
Did you like The Future, Bruce? I loved that album, but I've shyed away from the new one, because I think the single is really weak. Haven't heard it more than a couple of times, though. Picked up I'm Your Man last week instead of Ten New Songs, just to get that Cohen fix because I couldn't get Everybody Knows out of my head.
BTW, ever heard the Concrete Blonde cover of that one? Great version.
By Bruce_Geryk (Bruce) on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 04:45 am:
Chris: Plinky Casio sound? Do you mean the piano voice? You might be getting a wrong impression from samples, although I don't recall any song sounding like that. In fact, for all the MIDI that's on this album, the only problem I have is with the hi-hat/brush voice, which is bad -- I think I have a better voice on my Alesis.
I'm not worried about experimentation -- half of the pop I hear on the radio these days could have been written in 1993. The tone of this album is very consistent, and while it's borderline sentimental, it never crosses the line into maudlin. I'm the kind of person who can listen to the same song over and over for days, so I'm predisposeed to like an album like this. If you can't pour a scotch and disappear into this album for an hour, you're a robot. Or perhaps a half-man, half-dog creature.
Of the ten songs, at least six are superb: "In My Secret Life," "A Thousand Kisses Deep," "That Don't Make It Junk," "Here It Is," "By The River's Dark," and "Boogie Street." "By The River's Dark" is going to be a Cohen classic as far as I'm concerned. Sure, there's no "Famous Blue Raincoat," but just one of those is fine.
Brett: The single is weak? I only hope that the single in the far reaches of eastern Ontario is "Alexandra Leaving," because if it's any of the other songs including "In My Secret Life," you're higher than Chet and Chick put together. You might need to drop Mike Harris a line and get that all straightened out.
The Future was a good album, although the best two songs are the first two. I remember going to see Natural Born Killers and being shocked that "Waiting for a Miracle" was used for the opening scene.
As for covers, the REM "First We Take Manhattan" (wasn't that the b-side of the "Drive" single?) does have great instrumentation, but Stipe's voice kills it for me. Yeah, the Concrete Blonded "Everybody Knows" is ok. Although seeing Mia Kershner dance to the Cohen original in a schoolgirl outfit in Egoyan's "Exotica" is another story entirely.
By Brett Todd on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 11:37 am:
In My Secret Life does nothing for me. Starts, drones, ends. Seems very Perry Como-ish, in that Cohen sounds on the verge of nodding off from beginning to end. Just uninspired. Though like I say, I've only heard it about half-a-dozen times.
By Chris Floyd on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 11:52 am:
What I mean by that "Casio Sound" is the general MIDI-ish or cheap keyboard sound to everything. The drums are synthesized and obviously so... The other instruments are often just as bad. My question is: Is it a conscious decision to sound like this? Is there really an aesthetic advantage to composing music that way? I find it hard to believe that Cohen couldn't secure a real session band and orchestral players to do his first album in however many years. And I would be surprised if his music didn't sound even better with real instruments instead of the plinky casio. I like the vocal quality I've heard and I'm certainly willing to assume that the lyrics and general compositions are more than competent... I'm even attracted to what some have called the lethergic quality of the album... but I still wonder about the instrumentation.
As for REM, there's always the question of whether you like Stipe and his voice. Personally, I think what he does on "Manhattan" where he sings with both his high and low register voice sounds awesome.
Oh, and I like Jazz Police. Thank you.
By Ron Dulin on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 04:27 pm:
I've never heard a Cohen cover that I liked. Except Nina Simone's Suzanne. OK, and John Cale's Hallelujah.
Ever hear Nick Cave's version of Avalanche? It's the American McGee's Alice of Leonard Cohen covers. Yeah yeah, Nick, the original was a scary song. We don't need you singing like Vincent Price to get it.
By TomChick on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 05:36 pm:
"Ever hear Nick Cave's version of Avalanche? It's the American McGee's Alice of Leonard Cohen covers."
Next we'll be having Tom Waites doing Leonard Cohen songs.
By Bub (Bub) on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 07:42 pm:
"Next we'll be having Tom Waites doing Leonard Cohen songs."
That's so crazy, it just might work.
By SiNNER 3001 on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 08:03 pm:
Here's an even crazier idea: Phil Spector producing a Leonard Cohen album... Wait a sec!
By hido on Thursday, November 15, 2001 - 10:54 pm:
"It is quite possibly the best recorded album of the past 5 years. At least."
Obviously, you haven't been keeping up with Bob Dylan!