Living With War
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This is Neil Young’s best album in 10 years, which isn’t saying much, as he’s released some of the more frustrating albums of his career in this past decade. The album has the same guitar gnarwl that mirror ball captured 10 years ago, but Neil Young sings each line with a 100 voice choir, that sings with him, more than it accompanies him. This creates a strange spiritual element, that I’m not sure works all the time. Some of the lyrics are extremely obvious, even cheesy, then again even Young at his best has had problems with this, remember A Man Needs a Maid? However, the three or so great cuts on this album (Shock and Awe, After the Garden, Let’s Impeach the President)are great in any Neil Young period, and are as angry as anything he’s done. What is impressive is that the man who wrote the quintessential musical document of the Nixon Era with Ohio, and the Bush 1 protest song Rockin’ in the Free World, may have written the musical document of the Bush II era. Recorded in 2 weeks, and released online before it was released in stores, this album may change the way music is made and released.
The Boxing Mirror
* * * * *
This is Alejandro’s first album in over 4 years, and is produced by John Cale, yes that John Cale. Escavado has been labeled somewhat of an alt-country singer/songwriter, but this album creates an entirely new sound for him, and a new sound for music in general. A mix of Tejano, blues, country, pop, guitar rock, and indie rock, which sounds like a cross between the Magnetic Fields and Jackson Browne with David Bowie (he plays with depth and silence a lot like Bowie's Low) circa 1977 as producer. The album is difficult at first, but is heartfelt, and while overwhelmingly dark, and occasionally sprawling, it is quite listenable. A rare album that is both groundbreaking, personal, and yet not overstated. Hands down the best album of the year so far.
This is How We Operate
* * * ½
At first I thought I bought a Phantom Planet album, I mean the first three tracks sound like generic California pop/rock, not the freewheelin’ English college rock band. Not that it comes off bad, they play the pop part perfectly, though it’s kinda odd coming from the producer of the Pixies albums. Luckily the album picks up and becomes more interesting later on. It’s the easiest listen of Gomez’s career, with little meandering or meddling. As a pop album it’s near perfect, but the problem it comes from a band with a lot more depth in them, and the album feels pretty light and harmless, which I guess works, but isn’t exciting.