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Neil Young - Le Noise

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Artist: Neil Young

Album: Le Noise

Label: Reprise

Review date: Oct. 1, 2010

What does Neil Young have left to prove? What cause do we have to pay attention outside of familiarity? Does he really surprise us anymore? Haven’t the best Neil Young records of recent times been reissues and rediscovered live recordings? Has he done so in any real, unexplored capacity since the Dead Man soundtrack? Was that record, in itself, anything more than a thinly-veiled nod to Flying Saucer Attack?

Why call an album Le Noise if it’s nothing more than Neil banging on rusty chords while Daniel Lanois turns the knobs on a Line 6 pedal? Why limit noise to a coloring of melodic blues chords? Why design one’s cover art in the style of a black metal (or a Sex/Vid) record if the sounds within are systematically opposite of the contents of those genres which it co-opts?

Why does Neil Young consistently skate away on past achievements? Is there any point in his resurrecting of the “Hey Hey (My My)” chord progression on Le Noise‘s “Love and War,” or implementing a key change to “Drive Back” as the backbone of “Sign of Love,” other than he wrote them, and they’re memorable? Wouldn’t one more 11th hour call against useless military conflict be a little more sincere if it didn’t include the signature of an earlier triumph? What does Young think of his own catalog to attempt such revisions? Furthermore, why couch it with maudlin lyrics like “Daddy’s not ever comin’ home”? Is his song going to make the loss of American soldiers any less painful? Do you want to tell some little kid that Neil Young understands where they’re coming from?

What is Le Noise that we should care? What does it contain that we can’t find somewhere else, independent of Young’s participation? Why aren’t the countless hordes, wailing away with GarageBand out there — some of whom are working with all new ideas, and skills that are beyond the simple stance of integrity which Young, a performer known for dabbling in genre without necessarily adding anything but his brand to it, can bring to the proceedings – privy to the same sort of recognition? If, say, Peter Kolovos were to have given his New Bodies album a title like Le Noise, would its impact be lessened?

Could the problem stem from the fact that, by reheating his craft and processing it through bullshit filters and valves, Neil Young is actually bringing about the end of rock and roll we keep hearing about? Wouldn’t it make more sense to create something we could be proud of? Something that inspires us in new forms, which motivates us to rise up against hatred and hypocrisy, something to help us conquer our fears and allow us to thrive once again, despite conditions stating otherwise? What’s up with all this defeat?

(The answers, in no particular order: Because he’s Neil Young; nothing; anything; no reason; yes; whatever.)

By Doug Mosurock

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