Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Album Review | Neil Young - The Monsanto Years


Written by Jason Gonulsen

"It's a bad day to do nothing," Neil Young sings on The Monsanto Years' opening track and best song, "A New Day For Love." The rock 'n' roll icon's band could be mistaken here for Crazy Horse, but it's Promise of the Real, which consists of Lukas and Micah Nelson (sons of Willie), Corey McCormick, Tato Melgar, and Anthony Logerfo.

And they're a versatile bunch, which is good (and essential) if you're familiar with Young's music. "People Want To Hear About Love," has Young's backing band busting out harmonies akin to CSNY while Neil does his thing, which he does all over The Monsanto Years: he screams about "corporations hijacking all your rights," "the Chevron millions going to the pipeline politicians," and "pesticides...causing autistic children." This is nothing new for Young, and if you listen to the aforementioned song, he realizes that people don't want to hear about these things: they want to hear about whatever makes them feel good.

But Neil is Neil, and as an artist who thankfully still cares about writing original material, he's not interested in providing the luxury that is comfort. "Well I don't know you, but I do know who I am," Young sings on "Workin' Man." There's an 8+ minute jam called "Big Box" where Young sarcastically sings, "corporations have feelings, corporations have soul," a playful, whistling ode to GMO-tainted Starbucks named "A Rock Star Bucks A Coffee Shop," and the feedback-laden "Rules of Change," which will probably sound enormous live.

And then there's the actual song "Monsanto Years," which comes off as a more focused, sincere approach to what Neil is trying to do: show he gives a shit. And as usual, when he buckles down and aims carefully, you feel it, too.

Essential Tracks: "A New Day For Love," "Big Box," "Monsanto Years"