Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Artist Album of the Week

Here at WGTB we get a lot of music in our office. A lot. Some of it is great, outstanding even, but a lot of it passes through without a second listen. Sad as that may seem, it speaks to the importance of making a record that has something to offer instantly and sells itself.

While we like to feature up-and-coming artists in this feature regularly, nothing in the mail this week struck us as "the next big thing"-- or perhaps we're too busy still drooling over the new releases by Kate Nash, Avi Buffalo, and Happy Birthday, not to mention all the albums that have leaked in the past few weeks (Black Keys, LCD Soundsystem, Broken Social Scene, to name a few).

So you know what? I'm taking it back, to an album that, had it arrived in our office this afternoon, would have instantly captured our attention as something worth hearing. We would have loaded the CD (erm, put on the record, given that this would have been 1969), and realized within moments that this was the album-- rife with grungy, intriguing licks, just enough country twang, and a pervasive darkness-- that would put fairly new-on-the-scene Neil Young on the map forever. His second solo album, released a few months before Young joined CSNY, found Young backed by Crazy Horse to create a psychedelic, plugged-in sound that tapped into the late-60s zeitgeist as much as it laid the groundwork for the entirety of 90s grunge.

Everybody Knows This is Nowhere only needed seven solid tracks to impress, from the aggressive "Cinnamon Girl," to the pining title track, to the sinister nine-minute jam "Down By the River." But the album's masterpiece is the ten-minute "Cowgirl in the Sand," which manipulates metaphors and images and love stories and change and hope and desire and rejection and time and displacement and still manages to convey a specific tone and emotion.
With dueling guitars by Young and Danny Whitten, Young displays a command of his instrument that puts the guitar's role in an entirely new light, right at the forefront of the song. Listen below:

Old enough now to change your name
When so many love you, is it the same?


B. Shaw said...

This is an awesome Blog post, Caroline. Cool idea. there's a lot of music to rediscover on those dusty studio shelves.

heinztomatoketchup said...

My father subjected me to so much neil young as a child that I can hardly stomach listening to him- however, after seeing him live and giving some of his music another shot, it's clear the man is really passionate about what he's doing, which is fine by me (despite his nails-on-chalkboard-esque croon)

Caroline said...

my mom hates his voice too, but i don't think "Helpless" would be the same without the whine. also, way to be a typical canadian josh.

Catherine said...

The Canadian that lives in my room gives this a thumbs-up.