September 14, 2010

Song Review: Neil Young's "Angry World"

Venerable singer-songwriter Neil Young returns with his umpteenth solo album at the end of September entitled Le Noise. Outside from voicing political and socially conscious activism through earnestly sung lyrics, Young's rough, bare bones sound has transcended classic folk rock and continues to influence some of alternative and noise's biggest names. Grunge era luminaries Kurt Cobain and Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder often cited Neil Young's style of gruff as inspirations. Sonic Youth even spent much of their early days upon signing with a major label opening for Neil Young, as Young himself was a huge fan of the NYC rockers' complex guitar rock. Today, it's Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse and Grizzly Bear who continue to be torchbearers of Young's legacy. All that being said, Le Noise seems aptly titled when taking this into account. After hearing what Young has created on the track, "Angry World," it shows that influence can go both ways. The track is still mostly stripped raw like a great majority of Young's quieter works, but in doing so, it allows heavily distorted guitar riffs and loops to resonate throughout. In the context of the songs' lyrics about the state of greed and the everyday man's struggle, the "angry" in "Angry World" is heard here in his guitar. The riffs lie somewhere between sludgy hardcore and 90's indie rock (especially during the bridge at the 2:30 mark) but Young's warbling vocals provide a balance to the heaviness. As the song fades out into a bliss of fuzzy feedback and a looped portion of the chorus, it appears Young has picked up a trick or two from the eclectic musicians he has had a lasting effect on. "Angry World" shows that Young continues to be progressively innovated in using modern music to evolve his own. If the track is indicative to the rest of Le Noise, Neil Young will be casting a warm invitation to younger audiences who may be aware of his influence on their current favorite bands but still largely unexposed to it. While going for a noisier approach may alienate a great deal of longtime fans who live for his subtle, intimate work à la Harvest or After the Gold Rush, it's incredibly cool that even a 65-year-old musician such as Neil Young would much rather keep abreast with the times than live in the past.

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