Note about our sponsors: Music blogs exist in a weird gray area. Ultimately, we at Noise Narcs believe that we’re doing more good than harm. But it’s something I agonize about a little bit, and the number of clickthroughs on our buy links doesn’t sit well with me. The future of the music economy matters to me because music matters to me. We donate any proceeds beyond our nuts and bolts cost to music-based charities. But in my mind, the real future of the recorded music biz will be in recurring fees from streaming music. MOG.com, in my mind, is the best of the current bunch, although Material Lives swears by Rdio and their admittedly superior interface and gapless playback (please, MOG Gods, fix this last one). But MOG has truly superior sound (320 Kbps!) and a much larger library (9 million tracks) for $5 a month ($10 including Android or iPhone access).
Starting today, Noise Narcs is happy to offer a 14 day free trial to MOG. As a full disclosure, MOG is an advertising sponsor, but believe me when I say this: paying $5 a month for access to almost any song you can think of is a steal. A steal that actually supports the musicians.
Back to the music:
Since I posted on Tuesday about Neil Young’s “Peaceful Valley Boulevard” being a companion piece to his “Cortez the Killer,” I’ve been thinking a lot about “Cortez the Killer.” And since I’ve been listening a lot to No Age and Deerhunter’s amazing new albums (both candidates for Top Ten of 2010), it didn’t take much of a mental leap for me to think of this truly bizarre and awesome rendition of “Cortez the Killer” by No Age’s Randy Randall, Deerhunter/Atlas Sounds’s Bradford Cox, and director Jim Jarmusch (?!?). RCJ&Y, anybody?
I was on vacation last week, so I did my normal return to the working week rountine of catching up on music I’d missed. Because if a blogger doesn’t hear the album that many other people have listened to in a forest, does it make a sound? Yes.
In my absence, one of the other Noise Narc contributors (Chris, I’m thinking), added Neil Young’s Le Noise to our (Not So) Short List of Best Albums of 2010. I was more than a little incredulous. Don’t get me wrong, I love Mr. Young. His December ’08 concert at Philly’s Wachovia was a revelation, putting openers Wilco firmly in their place. And several of his recent albums have been pretty good. But not best of the year good. By a long shot. And teaming up with famed producer Daniel Lanois sounds like a stunt Paul McCartney would pull (and has).
But Chris’ nomination was sound. This is a killer album. Young’s guitar work and age-ripened voice pairs excellently with Lanois’ Waves of Noise. And unlike, say, some of Lou Reed’s left field albums, it doesn’t sound so much like a Neil Young experiment as a way for him to refract the essence of his music off another style, much like Dylan’s Nashville Skyline. Though this “Peaceful Valley Boulevard” is not the most representative track, its kinship with “Cortez the Killer” makes a tempting set piece.
In the glow of having an old master surprise you, I poked around Mr. Young’s Wikipedia page, I found this gem: “In the 2006 film Heart of Gold Young relates how he used to spend time as a teenager at Falcon Lake, Manitoba where he would endlessly plug coins into the jukebox to hear Ian Tyson’s ‘Four Strong Winds.'” One of my favorite (probably apocryphal) musical anecdotes involves Django Reinhardt obsessively playing a Louis Armstrong record after his first exposure to jazz, so I loved this song before I heard it (or realized I’d heard it before on Young’s Comes a Time). My body may be back to the 9 to 5, but my mind is imagining a teenage Neil Young, a pile of Canadian dimes in front of him, the gears of his irreverent musical genius clicking into place.