What is it about Leonard Cohen that is so timeless? He might be 75 years old, yet he still seems as spry and full of energy as a 30-year-old. He skips and jumps to and from the stage, he’s still quick on his feet, he’s still got the amazing sadness/self deprecating humor and when he smiles it fills a room (or stadium as it were).
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Not a ton of people remember Opal (actually, to remember a band, you need to have heard of them in the first place, right?). It’s a shame, although admittedly, this is an acquired taste: think Syd Barrett’s Floyd (circa Piper at the Gates of Dawn) and the Doors, heavy organ action and a certain lysergic vibe (but black-and-white blotter paper, not a technicolor trip), and insert a female vocalist with a subdued style that borders on lugubrious…sounds terrible, right? Well, that is what most folks would probably think. Kendra Smith (vocals) and David Roback (guitar), formerly of Dream Syndicate and Rain Parade, respectively, comprised a sort of Paisley Underground all-star team. Think Velvet Underground cut with a British garage band’s blues affectations (in other words, Piper at the Gates of Dawn). Listen to 1987’s 20-year time warp “Magick Power” below. (If you like what you hear, beg, borrow or steal their lost semi-masterpiece, Happy Nightmare Baby and then, once you’re hooked, call out a favor or find a friend to track down the almost impossible to procure Early Recordings.)
The first Little Boots (Caligula to his contemporaries) was a Roman emperor infamous for his sadism, who inspired a really bad 1980 film starring Malcolm MacDowell and Helen Mirren. It’s taken two millenia, but finally another Little Boots has come along to redeem the name. Also known as Victoria Hesketh, she creates elegant and oh-so-infectious electro-pop. Her debut album is still in the works, but meanwhile, you can download her new album, Arecibo, or check out her MySpace page.
Ever want to be immortalized in a song? Or, more critically, do you have a spare $150 laying around?
Say Anything, for the uninitiated, is a surprisingly literate, self-consciously humorous emo-rock act fronted by Max Bemis, a young man who has a strong, distinct personality that stands out amidst the sea of generic Alternative Press flavors-of-the-week that come and go every month without much notice. Bemis’ “official” debut album, 2004’s excellent … is a Real Boy, was a theatrical, intelligent affair that got all the attention it deserved: few emo-rock albums carry as much pop-savvy or emotional heft as this album did, never once leaning into overly-poetic (see: indulgent) lyrics, simply because Bemis was so self-deprecating to be nailed with heavy criticism. Though his follow-up disc (2007’s double-disc affair In Defense of the Genre) was predictably bloated, Bemis showed no signs of slowing down his Pollard-like output, contributing to last year’s Punk Goes Crunk album (a cover of Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Got Your Money”) and releasing a full-length album from his Two Tongues side-project just a few months ago.