Lana Del Rey Covers Leonard Cohen's “Chelsea Hotel No. 2;" Releases Video

If there is a better way to start Thursday than watching three-plus minutes of Lana Del Rey being her fantastic self I have yet to hear about it. Frankly, I’m not sure I would want to.

Keeping things classy and opting to not go with the typical overhype of new music, Lana Del Rey quietly released a video this morning for her cover of Leonard Cohen’s classic ballad, Chelsea Hotel No. 2.” Her rendition is as hauntingly beautiful as might expect, with soulful vocals that lightly echo above soft acoustic accompaniment. The video matches this feel, and will likely spawn thousands of gifs showcasing Del Rey’s knack for looking depressed. You can view the video below.

Fun fact: Billboard says the song is originally about Cohen’s one-night-stand with singer Janis Joplin. (more…)

Fans, Help Intel Find The Next Canadian Superstars

From Rush, to Leonard Cohen, to Neil Young, Canada has turned out some incredible musicians over the years.  At least, enough to let us forgive them for also producing Nickelback, Justin Bieber, and Carly Rae Jepsen. Who’ll be the new batch of real unsigned talent?  Help us decide by judging in the Intel® “Canadian Superstars” Competition! Judge Canadian artists across seven genres including electronic, singer-songwriter, urban, pop, rock, country and Francophone, and you’ll have the chance to win an awesome prize pack of a Fender® Modern PlayerTelecaster® Plus and a Fender® Mustang II 40 Watt Guitar Combo Amp.

Who knows? With those tools in hand, you might just be the next Canadian superstar!

Sound and Vision: Wanted: An Out and Proud Gay Or Lesbian Chart Phenomenon!

Gays and lesbians have come a long way in entertainment since the days when George Michael had to have faith and pretend to want a woman in the “Father Figure” video to sell millions of albums. Although there’s no telling whether Queen would have been as successful in the ’70s and early ’80s had Freddie Mercury definitively outed himself as a lower-case queen, for the most part, today’s closeted male superstars don’t have to wait until they are about to succumb to an AIDS-related illness to publicly acknowledge their sexuality (like Rock Hudson did)”or not (like Liberace and, well, Mercury).

That doesn’t mean coming out of the closet still won’t have a negative effect on the bankability of gay music stars. This is why most of them still choose to wait until they don’t have too much to lose. Elton John, Ricky Martin, Clay Aiken, Savage Garden’s Darren Hayes and Michael all did it after their blockbuster days were over.

Though Hayes continues to release solo records that earn critical raves, it’s been years since he was A-list on the charts. John is a superstar for life, but his most notable post-coming out success (the 33 million-selling worldwide No. 1 single “Candle in the Wind ’97”) was with a song he sang to a dearly departed princess. How gay! Rufus Wainwright, despite critical plaudits, has never had gold album in the US.

Then there is Adam Lambert, the perfect example of how to be an out and gay pop star. He has a vociferous fan base, but his commercial performance isn’t commensurate with his level of fan devotion. He should be selling as many singles as Justin Bieber, but his last one, “Better Than I Know Myself,” was a chart dud (No. 76 on Billboard’s Hot 100), resulting in Trespassing, his sophomore album, being pushed back from March to a May 15 release date. Do we blame it on a weak single, or a pop constituency that’s still skittish about fully embracing a proudly out singer? (more…)

Riffs, Rants & Rumors: 2012 Shoulds & Shouldn'ts

Now that we’re finally finished looking back at last year, we can start looking forward and set our sights on what 2012 has in store for us. Like any other year, it’s bound to be a mixed bag, musically speaking”while there are plenty of things on the horizon that promise to put some spring in our step, a few impending arrivals are already standing out as musts to avoid. Somehow, even with the music industry in a ruinous state, there still seems to be an ever-increasing avalanche of new releases each year, so here’s a little assistance for your aural agenda-setting in the months to come, a guide to the musical routes you should”and shouldn’t”take in 2012.


Trailer Trash Tracys “ Ester (Jan. 24)

If a new UK band that blends the influences of vintage 4AD acts (Kurt “Ultravivid Scene” Ralske even did the cover art) and the Jesus & Mary Chain isn’t your idea of a good time, exactly what do you do for fun?

Leonard Cohen “ Old Ideas (Jan. 31)

The old master is back on the block, with an album that’s immeasurably better than its anomalously awful predecessor, the inexplicable Dear Heather.

Dr. Dog “ Be the Void (Feb. 7)

Refusing to be any one thing”power-pop, indie-rock, psychedelia and Americana have all found their way into the works at various points”Dr. Dog seems to have inadvertently created a sound they can (and should) stick to.

Mitch Ryder “ The Promise (Feb. 14)

One of the original architects of rock & roll as we know it today, Ryder is still rocking in 2012, and his first new US release in three decades is overseen by none other than Don Was.

Explorers Club “ Grand Hotel (Feb. 14)

Everybody’s favorite Beach Boys obsessives open up the template a bit on their second album without sacrificing any of their sunshine-pop charm.

School of Seven Bells “ Ghostory (Feb. 27)

Slimming down from a trio to a duo seems to have put a bit of a scare into these NYC synth-poppers, but we’re up for being spooked.

Tindersticks “ The Something Rain (Feb. 21)

Nobody does melancholy like the Tindersticks, and if the deep, creamy tones of Stuart Staples don’t nab you, the elegantly moody production will.

Field Music “ Plumb (Feb. 21)

England’s Brewis brothers have worked under a variety of monikers together and apart, but their brainy blend of art rock and indie pop is always alarmingly infectious.

Spiritualized “ Sweet Heart Sweet Light (March 19)

How can you not be curious about an album that Spiritualized mainman Jason Pierce claims was influenced by Chuck Berry, The Beach Boys and avant-jazzer Peter Brí¶tzmann?

Lee Feldman “ Trying to Put the Things Together That Never Been Together Before (Spring)

Speaking of The Beach Boys, the Brooklyn songsmith who matches a Wilsonian sense of composition with a wily wit worthy of Randy Newman is readying his fourth full-length, so don’t sleep on it.

Book bonus:

David Klein “ If 6 Was 9 and Other Assorted Number Songs (Feb.)

In this endearingly obsessive, unendingly fun romp through everything from “Eight Days a Week” to “Strawberry Letter #23,” author David Klein does for numbers what The Beach Boys did for surfing and Bruce Springsteen did for the New Jersey turnpike.


February 7 must have made some kind of major karmic faux pas years ago, because it’s bearing an unenviably heavy load in 2012 as the release date for a quartet of questionable new releases.

Van Halen “ TBA (Feb. 7)

Twenty-eight years down the line from “Hot for Teacher” and “Panama,” it’s highly doubtful that even Diamond Dave can wipe away the memory of Sammy Hagar and the guy from Extreme.

The Fray “ Scars & Stories (Feb. 7)

Are we expected to believe that the band who makes Coldplay sound macho is suddenly a raw rock & roll machine because they hired Pearl Jam’s producer?

The Light – 1102/2011 (Feb. 7)

New Order bassman Peter Hook’s extracurricular activities have always been iffy, but a batch of Joy Division covers plus an unfinished JD-era track completed by Hooky’s current outfit, The Light, padded out with instrumental versions of each track? Pass.

Paul McCartney “ Kisses on the Bottom (Feb. 7)

Look, we love dear old Macca as much as you do, but a standards album? Really? With smooth-jazz producer Tommy LiPuma? And appearances by Diana Krall and Eric Clapton? How will we even stay awake through the liner notes?





Neuman's Own: Q&A with Marissa Nadler

The adjectives ethereal, otherworldly and mythological tend to follow Marissa Nadler around like a pack of wandering troubadours. Nadler’s cultural understanding made it all the more poignant when she found herself subjected to the socio-economic forces of the oh so present”when she was ostensibly downsized. Her former label, Kemado, dropped her (its vinyl-only imprint, Mexican Summer, had been named after one of Nadler’s songs), but the thirty-year-old singer/songwriter didn’t just wail to the harpies. She opted instead to put out her fifth album on her own, financing it through a successful Kickstarter campaign and by selling her own handmade albums through Etsy. Fortunately for Nadler (though not so much so for Kemado), her recent self-titled release is her strongest record to date. Liberated from the reverb-rich sounds that once engulfed her dreamy, melancholy voice, it’s no surprise that Nadler herself has called the album her most honest to date.

OS: How has putting out your record on your own been going so far?

MN: It’s obviously a lot more work to put out your own record. I did many things right and I overlooked some important things (a publicist in each major market in Europe, for instance). I literally spent years of my life on this project. Luckily, I have a great boyfriend that helped me to the post office every night for months mailing my backers their rewards packages.

OS: So the Kickstarter campaign was a positive experience overall?

MN: Some people may think Kickstarter is just throwing money at artists, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Even though I earned a lot through the campaign, had I been better at math, I would have asked for a lot more. I maxed out three credit cards mailing the packages to Europe because I didn’t think about the fact that one vinyl record alone is $10 to mail to Europe. Fifty to seventy percent of my backers were from outside of the US, so that is something I really messed up on not thinking about. Kickstarter is literally getting not only the record done, but the mailings, and every little thing you promised. I’m good on my word so I’m still finishing up five oil paintings for five of my highest backers. So, I would say, yes, it has been a success.


Jenna Bryson Gains Insight From Industry Legend Don Ienner

Jenna Bryson isn’t your typical rising talent. You won’t find a long-winded backstory or moment of musical revelation in her bio”just Jenna, her songs and her humble personality. It’s these traits and more that helped the LA songwriter rise the ranks of the June Artist Access Premium Member Competition on OurStage, eventually landing her a mentoring session with one of the music industries most sought after resources”IMO president/ founder and former Sony Music and Columbia Records chief, Don Ienner.

In the nearly forty years of working in the music industry, Ienner has helped further the careers of legends like Springsteen, Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Billy Joel, Pink Floyd and has guided the passage of talents like John Mayer, Dixie Chicks, Alice in Chains, Jeff Buckley, Beyoncé, Matisyahu, Franz Ferdinand, Nas, Lauren Hill, Cypress Hill and many, many more.

Bryson and Ienner recently sat down for a chat in NYC and, well, we’ll let her tell you all about it herself. Check out Jenna’s video below”featuring a performance of her winnings song Happy and a personal recount of her mentoring session with Don Ienner. Want a mentoring session with industry powerhouse Rob Stevenson? Sign up for OurStage Premium Membership and enter the August Artist Access Competition now!

Your Country's Right Here: Lindi Ortega's 'Little Red Boots' Jump On Roots Charts

For Lindi Ortega, the Little Red Boots tell it all.

Not only is this the title of Ortega’s debut album, released June 7 on Last Gang Records, but the term is a reminder of this phase of her career. The former Interscope artist, whose well-known for her work with The Killers’ Brandon Flowers and the UK band Keane, took a look at her art not long ago and realized her heart belongs to country.

“It was a metamorphosis,” Ortega said of the direction in which her songwriting traveled. “I was writing songs and they had [the flavor of] Nora Jones and k.d. lang, that vibe. And my favorite record [of late] is Raising Sand by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. I love that warm, old school vibe and tried to capture that essence in this recording.”

The Toronto resident’s commitment to the sound was underscored on a trip to Nashville when she found real-life little red boots. Since her manager purchased them for her, they’vebeen her constant companion as she has recorded her new album and toured.

“I slipped them on and I could literally hear a chorus of angels,” she said. “It happened to be my birthday at the time, too. I’ve had them now for about two years and the soles are coming off but I’m keeping them always.”

Perhaps it’s not surprising that Ortega’s music sounds like a mix of sounds from Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton. Those and other traditional country performers made the music that Ortega was raised on.

“My mom was huge into country and that is what got me into country,” says Ortega who has “Bird on a Wire,” from a Leonard Cohen song, tattooed on her wrist. “I love Johnny [Cash], Willie [Nelson], and of course a lot of country people covered Leonard Cohen.”

Frequent trips to Nashville is just what Ortega needed to let the country flow into her own songs.

“I found awesome people there, friends who came to visit me in Toronto,” she said. “It was cool to hear how my music and styling fit in with the Nashville way of writing. My brand of country comes from the old school and it’s really, really cool to mesh it with new country ideas.”

“You know, it’s hard to refer to touring as a job because I love it so much.”

Clearly the love is there for roots fans, too, who put the new album at No. 10 on the roots chart, behind recent releases by Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle and other major artists.

“The next part of my story is to tour,” said Ortega. “I’d love to be heavily touring across the United States and working on a new record. It’d also be amazing to do some collaborations. This is all just icing on the cake.”

Find out more about Lindi, her album and her upcoming concerts on her Web site.

Artist Access Gives Rising Stars Meet And Greet With Industry Giants

Sometimes all you need to take your music game to the next level is great advice from a pro. OurStage is looking to hook Premium Members up with just that. The Artist Access series sits winning artists down with some of today’s most seasoned industry veterans for some one-on-one talk.

June’s Artist Access Music Competition is giving rock, pop, country and urban Premium Artists an opportunity to go behind the velvet ropes and meet with IMO president/ founder and former Sony Music and Columbia Records chief, Don Ienner. In the nearly forty years of working in the music industry, Ienner has helped further the careers of legends like Springsteen, Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Billy Joel, Pink Floyd and has guided the passage of talents like Franz Ferdinand, Beyoncé and Matisyahu. You could be next. If you want a chance to chat with Don Ienner, then sign up for OurStage Premium Membership today and enter your best original song in the Artist Access Competition by June 22, 2011.

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Thom Yorke tackles all the hits

Thom Yorke isn’t exactly known for his blithe, insouciant demeanor. So seeing his herky-jerky freestyle dancing on Radiohead’s video for Lotus Flower off their new record, King of Limbs, sparked the imagination of some clever fans. Now the Internet is abuzz with Thom Yorke memes dancing to anything from Single Ladies to Welcome to the Jungle. Behold the original video and our personal favorite below.

Rufus Wainwright has daughter with Leonard Cohen’s daughter

Rufus Wainwright announced the birth of his daughter, Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen, this week on his Web site. Baby mama is no other than Lorca Cohen, daughter of the venerable Leonard Cohen. Between the Wainwright and Cohen songwriting DNA, this kid has no choice but to rebel and become an accountant.

The Bad

Coke strips the hip away from Daft Punk

Coca-Cola, through some sort of deal with Satan, has convinced Daft Punk to team up with them on a limited edition run of Daft Coke. Look at it. It’s supposed to resemble the French duo’s helmets. This promotion is about as cool as your mom putting on plastic shoulder horns and telling people she’s Lady Gaga.

Hold It Against Me finally gets a video release

It’s here, and it’s queer. Britney Spear’s anticipated video for Hold It Against Me is a bizarre and befuddling montage of eyeless dancers, fighting Britneys and paint gun splatter. It’s not really edgy or sexy”and for that reason, it’s kind of perfect for the song. Watch it below and see if you agree.

The Ugly

Lil’ Kim puts the “dis” in discussion of Nicki Minaj

Lil’ Kim minced no words in a recent interview with Rap-Up about her rival, Nicki Minaj. I just think that people give her more credit than she actually deserves, she gripes. The rapper went on to discuss her inability to listen to Pink Friday in its entirety, and how her beautiful fans told her to put a decapitated Minaj on the cover of her new mixtape, Black Friday. Now all we need is for one of them to make a video for it featuring a dancing Thom Yorke.

Justin Bieber gets himself kilt on CSI

If you heard what sounded like the collective caterwaul of millions of teenage girls last Thursday, it was because of this:


New Dawn, New Day

Katelyn Dawn

Katelyn Dawn may not have won Canadian Idol, but she placed high enough to give her a taste of musical stardom, and encourage her to keep going. The Manitoba-born singer-songwriter (and Canada’s Top Model semifinalist) certainly has the singing chops and the good looks to get a boot in the door. Though we prefer her with just a guitar, singing soulful acoustic numbers like Hallelujah”which she played on a showcase for the Discovery Channel”her own style leans more towards Taylor Swift than the great Leonard Cohen. Rescue Me is as mainstream pop as it gets”soaring, airbrushed, and just a little cloying. We recommend sultrier, minor-key fare like There You Go Again. Best of Me is as catchy as it is sly”Dawn’s breathy coo entrances while guitars thrust like daggers. Although the singer is prone to sweetness (if you think you heard the words cocoa kisses in her song Puzzle Pieces, you are correct), she’s best when she saunters in with a bad attitude.