CD reviews: Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Nine Times Blue, Claude Hay
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Neil Young & Crazy Horse Psychedelic Pill/Reprise
“Dreamin’ about the way things sound now, write them down in my book.”
So says Neil Young on “Driftin’ Back,” the nearly 28-minute long opening track on “Psychedelic Pill.”
It’s a pretty mellow beginning, especially for a band with as rowdy a reputation as Crazy Horse.
Still, it’s Neil Young at his best. And when the second song, the album’s title track, kicks in, we get the Crazy Horse we’ve grown to love through songs such as “Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)” and “Powderfinger.”
Young and his band aren’t getting any younger, but instead of going gently into their winter years, Neil Young & Crazy Horse are building a snow fort and digging in via their music.
The loose, guitar-heavy songs on the album range from country stomps such as “Born in Ontario” and “Twisted Road” to all-out rockers such as “She’s Always Dancing” and “Walk Like a Giant.”
This is the second album Young has released with Crazy Horse this year, and while the previous release, the cover album “Americana,” was fun, “Psychedelic Pill” marks a triumphant return to the sort of music that cemented this band’s reputation as one of the best live rock acts out there.
Key Tracks: “Psychedelic Pill,” “Born in Ontario,” “She’s Always Dancing”
Nine Times Blue Falling Slowly/Renegade
With the many power pop bands currently out doing their respective things in the music world, one might think that the musical style would be easy to master.
For every Cheap Trick, Big Star and The Smithereens, there are two dozen other bands that try but never quite achieve the true power pop sound.
Nine Times Blue is one band that gets it right.
The infectious pop hooks and catchy lyrics on “Falling Slowly” show that these guys have done their homework, and that they are the real thing.
The leadoff title track is reminiscent of The Gin Blossoms with its bouncy rhythm.
“I Can’t See You” finds lead singer Kirk Waldrop channeling The Smithereens’ Pat DiNizio, while the lovely “Serena” sounds like what might happen if Crosby, Stills & Nash teamed up with DiNizio and his boys for a song.
“Fun and Games” just might be the best Elvis Costello song he never wrote.
While the influences on the album are obvious, the music is undeniably original, and there are only a couple of tunes that don’t totally pass muster.
Here’s hoping that Nine Times Blue gets the widespread recognition they obviously deserve.
Key Tracks: “Falling Slowly,” “I Can’t See You,” “Fun and Games”
Claude Hay I Love Hate You/128 Records
When I heard Australian musician Claude Hay’s album “Deep Fried Satisfied” a couple of years ago, I was immediately impressed.
That admiration grew when I learned that the songwriter not only put on one-man shows by way of loop pedals, but also built his own instruments.
Even if the potential novelty of those additional abilities doesn’t matter to you, once you get an earful of Hay’s electric blues and roots music, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything negative to say.
Employing elements of Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and Taj Mahal, Hay actually improves upon the goodness that was “Deep Fried Satisfied” with his new album, “I Love Hate You.”
The raw title track sets the mood for the album nicely, while tracks such as “Stone Face,” “Narrow Mind” and “Don’t Bring Me Down” demonstrate Hay’s incredible ear for a great blues riff.
A cover of The Beatles’ “Come Together” finds Hay stripping the tune down like an old engine and completely overhauling it. The end result is a complete reimagining of the classic rock track that has to be heard to be believed.
This guy is red hot, and he’s only getting better with each release.
Key Tracks: “Stone Face,” “Narrow Mind,” “Come Together”
By Devin Grant