Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Neil Young - Le Noise (Early Peek)

True to form, Neil Young remains fascinating. And I'm looking forward to hearing the full album that NPR is hoping to stream from Sept 20 - 28. I hope that happens.

So, three songs from it are circulating already. “Walk with Me,” “Love and War,” and “Angry World.” The Lanois treatment is a definite plus. Musically they're complex and rather beautiful. I'm still finding myself cringing at a lot of the lyrics, but with the ambient-ish elements so, well, elemental, I can't help but be quite charmed by it, though it is definitely hurt by a lack of percussion.

It might not be quite the "best album in decades" that Bob Boylen says, but it’s certainly the most interesting album since Sleeps with Angels.

Here’s the video for “Angry World”:

Other tracks can be heard here:

“Love and War” and “Walk with Me”:

“Walk with Me”:


At 9/16/2010 7:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

John, as much as I love Neil, I sure wish the lyrics of many of his more recent albums were smarterand less cliched. Maybe Nil could go to a good low-res MFA program and get something worked out. I mean, he's the same guy who wrote poetic gems like "Thrsaher," "Campaigner," "Ambulance Blues,"Will To Love," etc. We know he can do it.


At 9/16/2010 7:24 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

I've had this conversation with several long-time NY fans. Yeah, that's it. His lyrics used to be less "literal" (which is how he describes it) and more about the "mood" or "feeling" of the thing.

More correctly, he used to use images to cr...eate a place where the "point" was something for the listener to live into, where now he's more interested in using much more direct, though highly abstract statements about things like "unconditional love" and "love and war." I wish he'd go back to the more textured ways he used images.

His abstract statements are highly reductive and conventional. He still has moments though! I hold out hope!

Looking back on some of his 70s recordings, though, even ones I love, there are many cringe moments in the lyrics. The whole of "Will to Love" is REALLY goofy (let's be fish that swim into outer space!), and other lyrics like: "Sailing heart ships through broken harbors" . . . you know?

At 9/16/2010 2:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I agree with you on the percussion thing, John. If it was just Young & his guitar/harmonica as he has done so many times, then OK, no drums. But these songs have the Lanois stamp on them, with much going on across the sonic spectrum. I can't help but feel that some kind of percussion track would have sounded great inside this arrangement, whether it be very doctored/tweaked by Lanois, or just Young's typical, simple, natural sounding drumset backing. I guess they didn't want to sound typical. Also, I think on that NPR recording that you linked to, the DJ or whoever he is, claims there's no overdubs. Sounds incorrect to me. I can clearly hear at least a couple different guitar tracks within the swirl of the production effects. So if you're going to overdub, why not some percussion on a few? Is there no bass/drums on any of the tracks? Still, I like the sound of what I've heard so far, haven't listened to his lyrics so much as of yet. Thanks for the heads up on his new album.


At 9/18/2010 6:26 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...


The explanation for the guitar sound is that he has the thing going through two speakers with two different effect banks, which allowed them to get that second guitar sound. They also have some way to channel the bass and treble so that the bass reverberates while the treble remains crisp.

It's an interesting set-up. I would LOVE to be invited over.

At 9/18/2010 9:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I listened to "Walk With Me" in headphones & it still sounds to me like there's some different attack in the guitar strums that are separated in different channels. I guess not. Then it must just be how Lanois is manipulating the sound of Young's one guitar through a very unique bank of effects--perhaps live & on the fly? maybe also during mixing, who knows. Pretty incredible if it really is just one guitar. But then Lanois, like Brian Eno, has a unique genius for putting a personal stamp on sonic texture. In the end, to me, it's a little gimmicky, but I like the concept, I've done music similar (totally different sound, though) using effects & loops that I create & manipulate on the spot while playing live ( Nothing at all as sophisticated (although "elemental" as I think you correctly you put it) as what I've heard so far of the Young & Lanois album. Anyway, because of the conceptual production, I think Young's latest effort has a bit of a "process over product" element to it. Bravo the experimentation, but in the end, not sure if the songs themselves will hold up. Although I haven't actually got the album yet, so my opinion/judgement really isn't fair to say yet.


At 9/18/2010 10:11 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...


Neil Young plays, I think, mostly without a pick, where he strums while also using his thumb to hit notes . . . and then he plays a riff or a few notes then he goes back to strumming. And he also has an effects box that he's always fiddling with.

Anyway, you can hear a little of this same thing in the song "Roger and Out" from Living with War, if you have access to that one. It's a one-take single guitar that achieves a little of this double-guitar sound. It's interesting, but its not my favorite thing he does.

And yeah, the songs themselves are, well, mostly just OK.

I'm off to the myspace page now.

At 9/18/2010 10:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Huh. Didn't know that he didn't use a pick. And I've seen him play many times, guess I wasn't paying attention. That would explain at least some of the oddness to his sound. I'll check out "Roger and Out" from Living with War, don't have that one. Thanks.


At 9/18/2010 11:00 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Well, he might use a pick. I really can't tell from seeing him play. But what he does is he uses all his fingers . . . that's how he gets a lot of that double-strumming.


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