erasing clouds

16 more reviews of music

by Dave Heaton, Anna Battista, Erin Hucke and Jay Peterson

Log, Auto Fire Life (Old 3C)

Log's Auto Fire Life opens with the title song, a dark, blazing number that rocks like a racecar heading towards explosion. Then the hooks set in. The rest of the album keeps the rock edge but relies on melody over power. Lead singer/songwriter Paul Nini and his cohorts have crafted over a dozen high-quality, tuneful pop/rock songs. Just about all the songs here are top-notch, from "Here Comes the Rain," a great bitter pop song to "So Much Better," a VU-tinged mellow tune about desperation and the constant thought that something better's always around the corner, to "C'mon the Future," a keyboard-soaked look forward. A bunch of the songs have pretty co-lead vocals from Nini and bassist Shirley Tobias, and every song has killer guitar riffs. The catchy melodies give the album and uplifting mood, even when the lyrics don't depict life quite as optimistically. Like a lot of great rock and roll, there's a sadness lurking beneath the songs, but that quality just makes every chord seem more important and every word more courageous. And like a lot of great rock and roll bands from Ohio, Log has a no-bs attitude and a love of genuine rock music that shines through from beginning to end.( Heaton

Matmos/Motion Split 12" (FatCat/Bubblecore)

Part of a series of 12"s exploring experimental electronic music, this is one of those releases that doesn't fit into the average person's definition of entertainment (or, for some people, of music), but is a riveting experience for anyone interested in the new, in what people can and are doing with sound. The side featuring Motion is perhaps the more accessible of the two, though I think the word "accessible" is pretty irrelevant when you're dealing with music like this, where artistic impact is more importantly than mass reception. Motion, aka producer Chris Coode, builds his pieces by sampling and processing the sounds of various instruments and toys, and then using programming to create a random series of sounds. The first track sounds, to me, like you're lost in a maze of repeating and echoing telegraphs, xylophones and people hitting glasses with spoons. Other tracks include noises that sound like creaking doors, radio waves, keyboards, and acoustic guitar--yet Motion's method is such that I'm not sure what sounds these are truly. That's the joy here; this is music that messes around with sound so much that you're never really sure what you're hearing. That same feeling comes from the Matmos side, yet their music is 100 times more hectic and even more confusing. Matmos take a Burroughsian cut-up approach, taking sounds as varied as pieces of R&B songs and field recordings from Mount Everest and slicing them all up into a composition. The result sounds close to and far away from traditional dance music. The beats are there, but the chaotic cuts make everything jumpy and all-over-the-place. At first it sounds like a mess, but moving back and settling in a bit, it starts to sound like a dance track, just with lots of crazy dressings on it. It's eternally surprising music; the biggest jump to me is in the second track, where a symphony shows up out of nowhere. My immediate reaction to the Matmos' tracks was "what the hell?", but the more you listen the more interesting it gets. At one point during the Motion side I heard a car alarm and had to check and see if it was part of the record (it wasn't). And during the Matmos side I checked at least 5 times to see if I had the record playing at the right speed. Any musician that can mess with my mind that much has my respect. (, Heaton

Modest Mouse, The Moon And Antarctica (Epic)

The first track off Modest Mouse's new album expounds the fleshy lyrics and exuberant guitar work that fans of these Washington state natives have come to expect. The three-piece band puts together riffs and bass lines that skirt the line between a pop sense of tone and a near-punk harshness. The lyrics don't betray the music in their artistry. It's a strangely pleasing blend of introspection, sarcasm and ennui that's apparent from the start of this album and continues to a satisfying finish. Isaac Brock, on lead vocals, wails and croons his way through his observations about himself such as his discovery that his only art is "fucking people over." As Brock intones on the first track, "Your heart felt good, it was dripping pitch and made of wood" (and continues to through the rest of the album) he continues to grab onto the themes of loneliness, bleak societal visions, love and pain wrapped with a tremor of family dysfunction. The maturity of Modest Mouse is apparent on this album; appropriate considering it's a major label debut under Epic. The production certainly can attest to this as the garage sound that permeated their first album is gone and replaced with studio effects and a mix of new sounds like strings and organs on some tracks. One track, "Tiny Cities Made of Ashes," looses the guitar work entirely and settles for an electronic beat and rap-like lyrics. This is an exception, for the rest of the album keeps that unique sound that Modest Mouse has worked so hard to perfect. They maintain the themes of travel on the open road and that made Route 8 and The Lonesome Crowded West such great albums. A friend of mine in fact insisted that Modest Mouse makes the best driving music out there; buy an album and find out for yourself. Regrettably, their live shows can be less than satisfying with nowhere near the polish that they show in their albums but this does not detract from their appeal. But for any rock fan who seeks biting lyrics, unique guitar work and a quirkiness that oscillates from existential, to comic, to near self-destructive from beat to beat Modest Mouse is your band. They will certainly remain a band that is hard to pigeonhole with any certainty, which is a sign of a band to keep watching. This major debut album shows that they are going to keep satisfying fan's obsessions for years to come and providing great rock tracks to entertain people on the open road.--Jay Peterson

Olivia Tremor Control, Presents Singles and Beyond (Emperor Norton)

The cult of Brian Wilson is growing every day, and, like the rest of the Elephant 6 bands, The Olivia Tremor Control can definitely be considered guilty of taking major inspiration from him and some of the other great songwriters of his era. Still, The Olivia Tremor Control are not your average 60's-influenced "indie rock" band. They seem as influenced by avant garde music and bohemian art movements as by 60's rock. They have a love for pop melodies, but also for surrealistic sound pieces and tape loops. Singles and Beyond is, as the title indicates, a collection of singles and other hard-to-find recordings. Specifically, it combines their California Demise and The Giant Day EPs with songs from compilation albums and a split 7". Much of the material is closer in sound to that of their first CD, Music from the Unrealized Film Script Dusk at Cubist Castle, than the more polished, fuller follow-up Black Foliage. In other words, this is pretty lo-fi stuff, nothing too glossy or slick. I've often heard people talk of the two sides of OTC, the pop/rock side and the experimental side, yet to me it's obvious that even their most straightforward rock songs are infused with a psychedelic haziness. Singles and Beyond displays all aspects of OTC's sound, from the catchy tunes "Love Athena" and "A Sunshine Fix" to sound collages like "Collage #1" and "Late music 2," which utilize snippets from their songs and other unrecognized sources. Though the compiled nature of Singles and Beyond leads it to be not quite as cohesive an entity as their two albums, it really doesn't matter. To a fan like me, especially one too poor to buy every 7" and compilation that a band appears on, this sort of collection is a dream. I adore singles compilations; they bridge that eternal gap between the money in my pocket and the music want list in my brain. And The Olivia Tremor Control are the perfect candidate for such an album. The songs here are not only mostly hard to find at this point, but in terms of quality they are as interesting and catchy as anything they've done. Due to the cohesiveness factor, especially important when you're mixing experimental pieces with pop songs, this might not be the best first buy for someone new to OTC. But for a fan, this is a magical thing.--Dave Heaton

James Plotkin/Pimmon Split 12" (FatCat/Bubblecore)

This 12" is in the same series as the Matmos/Motion split (see above), and is similar in many ways. These, too, are musicians adept at messing with sound so much that you get really confused as to what you're listening to. Yet they use different means and have different styles of doing so. James Plotkin is a guitarist, though from listening to this I'd assume he also uses many electronic devices. Not sound on his side of this 12" resembles a guitar to me, yet I read that his songs are based around guitars, so I'm guessing it's true. What it sounds like is waves of laser noises (or at least the sounds I've come to associate with lasers based on sci-fi movies and toy laser guns) with lots of blips, pings and other little prickly noises. It's an interesting, ever-shifting sound. Pimmon's music is based around his collection of recorded "love sounds," including heartbeats, kisses, etc. But of course, these sounds have been processed through so many machines and devices that they are unrecognizable. What's there is waves of synthesizers, mellow beats, and a mood of weird breathing noises, not to mention lots of electronic-sounding noises that I can't recognize as any particular instrument. This is music that keeps you on your toes, that's for sure. Both Plotkin and Pimmon's music shifts constantly from sound to sound, but both musicians are able to set up a comfortable, almost relaxing tone, which is a weird thing to have in the midst of such creative chaos. Like the Matmos/Motion split, this would make a great present for your jaded friends; there's nothing ordinary going on here. (, Heaton

Poi Dog Pondering, Soul Sonic Orchestra (Plate tec tonic)

For 12 years now, Poi Dog Pondering have been doing their thing without paying much attention to the fact that they're neither well-known in the mainstream or especially hip among most non-mainstream fans or critics. And the whole time they've been continually evolving: changing members and their sound from album to album. 1999's Natural Thing, the band's fifth studio album, showcased the band as a lush, soulful dance band, relying on beautiful R&B vocals and full string arrangements. Their latest release, the live album Soul Sonic Orchestra, finds the band with a similar sound, though a slightly different lineup. Here Poi is especially stressing both the vocal side of the band, with vocalists Carla Prather, Charlette Wortham and Kornell Hargrove using the microphone as often as Poi leader Frank Orrall (traditionally the main singer), and the instrumental side, with lots of time devoted to displaying the musical skills of the 10+ member band. At first it seems a bit odd that Poi would release another live album so soon after 1997's two-disc Liquid White Heat, a live showcase for songs from throughout their career. Yet it doesn't really matter, because Soul Sonic Orchestra is such a joyful album. It includes some of their better-known songs, but also a few great songs off Natural Thing and some fun covers, like a long, energetic version of the disco hit "Ain't No Stopping Us Now," a song I never thought too much about before but really enjoy in this context. While there are songs here that have appeared on several other Poi releases, the purpose behind this CD wasn't to collect "greatest hits" but to capture the feeling in the air at a few particular Poi concerts, New Year's Eve 1999. That feeling, and the atmosphere at any Poi show, is one of fun and beauty. Soul Sonic Orchestra doesn't necessarily move Poi in a new direction, but it does capture the place Poi is in at this moment in time, and that is a wonderful thing. ( Heaton

Portastatic, Del Mel, de Melao (Merge)

It's an age-old story: kids in America form indie guitar-rock group; group becomes legendary; singer records his less- rocking songs under another name; singer decides to record an EP of Brazilian pop music, sung mostly in Portuguese. Oh, OK, point made. I'm sure Mac McCaughan (Superchunk, Merge Records)'s decision to make his next Portastatic release a collection of his favorite songs by Brazilian artists initially caught some people by surprise (not that in this postmodern age, any cross-genre combination is all that surprising). But it works, it really does. Del Mel, de Melao is McCaughan, occasionally helped by a few friends, playing and singing songs from Brazil that he loves. I must admit, my knowledge of Brazilian music has pretty much stopped at Jobim and company, so I wasn't very familiar with some of the artists he covers here (Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa, Arnaldo Baptista, Os Mutantes). But now I want to check them out, and McCaughan's liner notes give enough discographic information to help me find the original versions. The songs are mostly pretty love songs, though some have a dark, sadder edge (especially "Lamento Sertanejo"). The lyrics are mostly in Portuguese, except one song which was originally in English ("I Fell In Love One Day") and a few places in other songs where McCaughan chose to sing some of the lyrics in English. The reasons this succeeds so well are: 1) the songs are pretty, melodic and complex 2) McCaughan's no slouch when it comes to the language 3) musically it's a diverse, layered creation with a mood of beauty. My favorite is the opener, "Baby," and the closer "Clareana," two absolutely gorgeous ballads delivered by McCaughan with crispness in his usual highly emotive, near-tears style. By no means is this my favorite Portastatic release (that would be the wonderful The Nature of Sap), but it's more than just an interesting experiment; it's a fine (though quick) collection of timeless pop music. ( --Dave Heaton

Slum Village, Fantastic Vol. 2 (Good Vibe)

When A Tribe Called Quest's music started relying heavily on the production of the Ummah, around the time of Beats, Rhymes and Life many fans started complaining. The Ummah is Jay Dee and Q-Tip, and on those Tribe albums they formulated a soulful, jazzy, sometimes spacey, always full sound that, though it was dismissed by some at the time (and too quickly--to me Beats is one of Tribe's best), is now not only accepted but praised. Jay Dee took Q-Tip's solo album in the spacier, more abstract direction, but has been using the more soulful side of his production successfully with people like Common and Jay Dee's own group Slum Village. Fantastic Vol. 2, Slum Village's debut album, has been held up in record-label shenanigans for years now, and finally made it out earlier this year, due to the work of GoodVibe/Atomic Pop. On this album, the production falls into a mellow mood throughout. Their music is low-key and relaxed, especially compared to some of the more hyper hip-hop acts to be successful lately (compare this to say, the new M.O.P. album, and ask yourself how anyone alive can say "I don't like hip-hop" as if all hip-hop sounds the same). There's no question that the best side of Fantastic Vol. 2 is its production, yet Slum Village shouldn't be overlooked as MCs. T3, Baatin and Jay Dee have their own lowkey style of MCing that builds from old-school tag-team rap but has a freshness in language and character. As gets pointed out by pretty much every review, the subject matter they're dealing with is nothing new. These are songs about hanging out, chasing girls, trying to get money. They might not have a new perspective to voice, yet as hip-hop musicians they're impeccable. Fantastic Vol. 2 includes some tracks that truly are fantastic, like the James Brown sample fest "I Don't Know" (featuring the turntable skills of Jazzy Jeff, a truly underrated individual), the single-ready (because of its upbeat tone) "Raise It Up," and great collaborations with D'Angelo and Busta Rhymes (what do these two appear on where they don't steal the show?). All in all, it's a soulful hip-hop affair worth your time. Plus in the time it took to get this album out, Slum Village has probably written a couple more, so there should be even better things on the horizon for them. --Dave Heaton

Spearmint - Oklahoma! (Hitback)

It's Christmas in the imaginary town of Oklahoma in England. There is a lonely and homeless guy wondering in the streets dressed like a cowboy and looking for some friendly face. Peeping through the windows of the various houses, he can see a woman waiting for her husband's phone call, a guy who's back from college, a son who can't find the courage to phone his father and what he sees become songs sang by Shirley Lee, Spearmint's singer. Lovely story, indeed that of the cowboy, but I'm afraid it's not Christmas and this kind of music is what was called British indie pop. Though the packaging and the graphic look good, the tracks on this album aren't really that brilliant and though "Happy Birthday Girl" is a true sparkle of joy, "Oklahoma!", "Vivian" and "The Locomotion" are average pop and sound like a reinvented Pulp with a major interest in Northern Soul. Shirley Lee even manages to sound like Jarvis Cocker here and there, especially when, at the beginning of a track, he introduces with his cavernous voice the story he will be singing in a second. This is frivolous and twisted pop, vapid here and there and this album confirms that Spearmint have to work hard if they want to release some truly original and good stuff. ( Battista

Spring Heel Jack - Disappeared (Rough Trade)

Confined to the drum'n'bass genre when they released their first album, Spring Heel Jack have progressed, slowly, little by little, retaining the d'n'b logic and rhythms, but plunging deep into jazz and successfully managing to take the listener to higher platitudes. The sixth album for Ashley Wales and John Coxon, AKA Spring Heel Jack, is a carnival of sophistication: "Rachel Point" is an electro-jazzadelic dream, "Disappeared 1" and "To Die A Little" evoke John Coltrane's Ascension and Interstellar Space, "Galina" is pure d'n'b, "I Undid Myself" might be a good soundtrack for an espionage movie while the bass clarinet dominating track "Disappeared 2" has the quality of a smashing anthem. In this album, Spring Heel Jack's beats run on highways of rhythms, where trumpets shriek and beats go faster and faster shattering against a wall of sound like broken splinters of glass. No mimicry or mediocrity exists in Spring Heel Jack's music, only a first class eclecticism that shows they are truly capable to build a genre of their own, going from d'n'b to spaced out jazzadelia, passing through 1000 shades of minor notes. The enclosed capsule of a defined genre that first contained Spring Heel Jack's music, confining it, has finally shattered forever, allowing them to get out into the space of music, into the galaxy of sounds. ( Battista

Super Furry Animals, Mwng (Flydaddy)

Several people I know expressed concern over the fact that the Super Furry Animals' latest CD was entirely in the Welsh language. After the stateside release of Guerilla in 1999, I was not about to let a strange tongue prevent me from trying Mwng on for size. Unless of course, that strange tongue lived in the mouth of my landlord's handyman (a truly frightening character) but that's a completely different story. So why record in Welsh? Well SFA is from Wales, so that's one reason. This isn't the band's first time singing in Welsh, just their first album entirely in the dying language. They've had b-sides and random album tracks in Welsh. The second reason to record, perhaps an attempt to save their native language in a world ever drifting toward English dominance. Welsh sounds so fundamentally different from English, or French, or Spanish, or any other language familiar to us self-centered Americans, it's hard to realize it's an actual language being sung. It's not just random murmurings. (It's especially hard to tell when I'm doing one of my phonetic sing-a-longs.) With mediocre music, a foreign language album would fall to pieces. But SFA's blend of acoustic guitar pop and happy electronics give the words a platform to stand on. The Super Furry Animals vouch that music truly is the universal language. It takes a lot to stretch across language barriers. Mwng has done it, proving that the Super Furry Animals are one of the most solid, innovative rock bands in the world today. {Visit the Super Furry Animals' official Web site,, to find out more info or to see some rough English translations of the lyrics.}--Erin Hucke

Two Lone Swordsmen - Tiny Reminders (Warp)

Recording studio: darkness. A fly rests on a luminescent bulb that casts its tenuous light on the mixing desk. Suddenly the fly drops dead, fried and electrocuted, accidentally falling on one of the levels that regulates the volume of the mix of the song which is being played and it is squeezed into the final mix of the record. That's what must have happened while Andrew Weatherall and Keith Tenniswood, the two musical halves that form The Two Lone Swordsmen, were recording their latest fatigue. Brandishing not swords, but decks and rhythms, The Two Lone Swordsmen introduce us to this new work that includes pristine electronic bleeps, like those on "Tiny Reminder NO 1," that remind the buzz of a fly. This is the electronic listening music you can dance to since Weatherall and Tenniswood can go from the dark, decoded and obscure tones of "Tiny Reminder NO 3" to the dance-y beats shining like glitter-glossing sweaty bodies, to the ecstatic and celebrating beats of "Section," to the ambient soundscapes of "Solo Strike" and the mellow melodies of "Constant Reminder." Somehow brutal with their minimalism and weirdism, The Two Lone Swordsmen show they are smart in putting together their tracks and their sounds. Far away from the masses E-hysteria, Weatherall and Tenniswood's space odyssey is still an unfinished melody: the infinity lurks behind and it must still be explored. Tiny Reminder No 2347: Weatherall and Tenniswood rule. (

Ultra Living/Uncle Innocent split 12" (After Hours/Bubblecore)

This is a really interesting release, featuring one song apiece by two relatively unknown groups out of Japan. At least unknown to me; Ultra Living apparently has three albums out in the UK on Creation. Their song is the most unconventional of the two. It opens with quick blips of a saxophone, drums and piano, followed by a calm male voice singing in an almost whisper, "Where are you going? Put on your ears and fall into the place where sounds flow…" From there, it's based around a series of patterns: the singer sings words slowly in a stepping-down-a-ladder sort of way and the pianist mimics him, following the notes downward. This repeats and is interrupted by a quick, upbeat section with the singer scatting rapid-fire in a super-high voice. A raspy clip of a string section comes in, as if from an old record blipping through a time barrier. Then the whole thing repeats; back to the first pattern, then the interruption, then the first pattern, then the interruption, etc. It's a rhythmic dream circle, like a pop song imitating the minimalist cycles of a Philip Glass composition. Uncle Innocent's contribution (which was apparently home-recorded, and is their first release) is a mid-tempo, jazzy ambient track with a hip-hop beat. It, like the other, is based on repeating sounds, but here it's a trumpet part which is used to help set a groove. Then pretty keyboard rolls and hectic drum fills are layered over the groove, creating a unique work out of relatively usual pieces. Together this release introduced me to two groups I'd like to hear more from; they differ from each other in terms of musical genres, but both use repetition and mood for effect, and pull it off wondrously. ( Heaton

Versus, Hurrah (Merge)

Versus' music has always had a pleasant kind of tension about it: melodic, good-natured rock songs with a strong hint of the sinister underneath, moody ballads that explode with noisy intensity, lyrics that are oblique enough that it's hard to tell if they're sincere or the singer is putting you on. In their music, everything is about more than it seems. For this reason, they've long been an underappreciated force in indie rock. What they do is subtle enough that they're sometimes easily overlooked as just another "alternative" rock band. They've also had their share of label troubles, the all-too-common story of corporate interests threatening to smother originality. Now that they're on a label that celebrates artists for what they do, not what they might be worth, Versus sounds freer than ever. While their last two albums, as great as they were, both had a few songs that hinted toward pop styles other than their usual style of melodic yet edgy rock, Hurrah has a musical diversity and complexity that catches your attention in such a forceful way that it's impossible to ignore. In a perfect world, this album would make people sit up and realize what they've been missing for so many years. Hurrah is not only filled with stellar examples of the sort of intelligent, complicated rock music Versus has been playing since they've begun, it also includes songs that see them flying in fresh, new directions. The best summary would be to say that this album leans more toward noisier rock than ever before and more toward quiet, gorgeous pop than ever before. But even that wouldn't tell the whole story. There's a countryish ditty that becomes a lush, beautiful ballad, sunny pop songs about bitter breakups, weird poems set to upbeat guitar rock, Sonic Youth-ish apocalyptic jams, a chipper piano tune that morphs into an odd, experimental shuffle and "Fredericks of Hollywood," a hyper rock song soaked with sexual tension that leads first into a mellow organ interlude and then into an absolutely wild guitar freakout. In short, Hurrah is a work of utter complexity, one of the most multi-dimensional rock albums I've heard in a while. Everything has a sharp edge to it, yet the album is also filled with some of the prettiest melodies that you'll hear. It's about love, it's about pain, it's about tenderness, it's about the end of the world; what more do you need? ( Heaton

The Villas, Secrets (Think Tank Records)

Never judge a CD by its cover, that's lesson number one. The CD art for the Villas' Secrets, which includes six different photos of Bill and Angel Ali Villa, made me wonder if this wasn't going to be a case of image in place of substance. Boy, was I wrong! Secrets is all about songs, and good ones at that. The Villas' music is mellow pop in the vein of Squeeze, Elvis Costello or Michael Penn. They have super-catchy melodies and interesting lyrics, and deliver both through the sweet voice of lead vocalist Bill Villa. The cover art stresses them as a duo, yet they're accompanied by four other musicians, who help fill their sound out. There's no real filler here, but a few songs really stand out for me. The Villas are at their best when they up the tempo a little and get into a mid-tempo, slightly more rocking groove, as on "Pull You Back," "You're Laughing" and "Like There's No Tomorrow," three fun, buoyant pop/rock tunes with a great sense of harmony. The lyrics throughout mostly deal with love and life, as pop songs like these should. For a debut album, this is a really solid one; the songs might not be super-complex, but sometimes all you need is a really good pop song, and there's plenty of those here. ( Heaton

Neil Young, Silver and Gold (Reprise)

Neil Young is a living statement against the stereotypes associated with the aging process. I know, he's not that old, but he has been rocking a long time, and continues to do so each and every year. His newest album Silver and Gold does not rock in the sense that you think I mean, but it does ROCK in the sense that it's fantastic through and through. Lately Young's been going back and forth between rock albums (usually with Crazy Horse) and more folk-based acoustic albums. Silver and Gold is one of the latter. I've read a lot of critics who say this is his prettiest album since Harvest Moon, but honestly I think it's much prettier and better than Harvest Moon. Young's described this album as love songs about his wife and his family, and that's what these are. I'm a sucker for a good love song, and Neil Young sure can write one; he avoids any of the cloying sweetness rockers tend to have when they get older and start getting sensitive. I suppose that's because Young's managed to rock and be sensitive his whole career, so this album isn't anything new really, but it's also because, frankly, he's one of the best songwriters alive as far as rock music goes. Yet even when Young does fall into the nostalgia trap, on "Buffalo Springfield Again," he still manages to come across as sincere. Coming across as an honest voice is tough, since this sort of personal songwriting is all about manipulating your feelings and life experiences and turning them into songs. Still, this album feels real and has genuine heart about it, from the opening "Good to See You" to the closing "Without Rings," a quiet, resigned thought exploration unlike any other Neil Young song I've heard . The song mostly likely to be quoted to represent the album's themes is "Distant Camera," due to its line "All I need is a song of love." Yet my favorite song on here by far is "Razor Love," one of the prettiest Neil Young songs ever and one of the best repeat-play love songs of the year. It's about walking that fine line between selfishness and putting your faith in someone else and about the little words, actions and looks that cut through everything else to communicate love ("Who was it made your eyes flicker like that? Tell me babe how'd you get the knack?"), yet also has a chorus vaguely revealing loneliness and confusion. Yet above everything else, it's the musical pleasures of the song that make it so effective. The lyrics alone wouldn't do it, but it has a wonderfully melodic repeating structure, a nice bed of piano, guitar and harmonica and, most importantly, some of the prettiest, most expressive singing Young has ever done. Neil Young's such a legend at this stage that it's easy to for a new album of his to be completely ignored; Silver and Gold should not be, it deserves your attention.--Dave Heaton

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