Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Album Review - Neil Young - Le Noise

This review is part of the "Over Flow" Review Series. For various reasons these past reviews were not published anywhere else. I am tagging them as "Overflow Reviews" and may add some extra information after if needed but I will keep the ratings and reviews just as I originally wrote them. Enjoy:
Neil Young 
Le Noise
** out of *****

While Neil Young's new album can technically be called a solo album in reality it is a duet with producer Daniel Lanois.  Guitars everywhere, old folkie a bit directionless and master producer twisting knobs while getting bizarre warbles, echoes, and reverb out of the proceedings.  This can't really be called a "rock" or "folk" album, but most accurately a "sound" album.  One thing is certain, you will never be able to pin Neil down, but here it seems like the concept of Le Noise is much cooler then the execution. 

The tracks are mostly sketches that seem sort of half finished; you are waiting for Crazy Horse to start their simplistic downbeat at any moment, "Angry World" and "Rumbling" would both be stompers and could burn next to his classics if those ragged garage rockers got a hold of them.  Without the Horse or any of Young's other musical friends this short offering works best on headphones as sonic experience.  Sure there are songs here but even the titan song-smith Young seems to be a bit tired with the form and lyrics, "Love and War", yup we've heard it before and he admits it.  "Peaceful Valley Boulevard" wanders in his familiar realms of native people and hardships while Lanois alternates the tone of Neils acoustic, at moments all powerful before leaving it sparse, yet at 7 minutes the tune itself isn't memorable with it's recycled and bland lyrics.

The exception is the old unreleased gem "Hitchhiker" which gets a new sonic face lift, dominating the album.  This may not be the wayward tracks finest incarnation but it certainly is interesting to hear Neil "officially" tackle this number that's been rattling around his head for almost 20 years now.  Lanois is the true star here on Le Noise, creating an engaging listen out of songs, that for the most part, are barely flushed out. Young seems to be in demo mode while Lanois is onto the mastering phase, neither on the same page but both talented enough to have created an engaging listen that won't stick around your brain or ipod too long.   


Shane reviewed Uncle Neil's new disk over at Glide and we talked about it; I think I am a bit more disappointed then he is.  This is strictly a guitar tone album, in fact without the lyrics it would probably hold up well and might even turn out better.  This production though is so ripe for Neil to rip into the solo's and simplistic epics he is known for; I feel a little let down that he didn't go for it.  I also think it is pretty obvious that he had no real lyrical path here, the inclusion of "Hitchhiker" (though I love that tune) is a blatant give away.  That's OK though when he has direction, it isn't always the best thing.  

Who knows, maybe he will work again with Lanois and get a full band behind him, or maybe not, I know one thing, you can not predict what Young will do, and that alone makes him one of my all-time favorites. Then again his worst albums are nothing a good Borscht couldn't fix...

I got no idea about that one...Here are some videos, the last one is super impressive, not sure how long it will be up for:
The making of Le Noise
A live acoustic version of "Hitchhiker":
Le Noise The Film a full 39 minutes, this is pretty amazing and watching him play makes me almost want to reconsider those stars up there:

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