Neil Young & Crazy Horse — Colorado (Reprise)
Fifty years ago, Neil Young and his band Crazy Horse released their first album, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. The latest, Colorado, marks the first new Neil Young with Crazy Horse album since 2012 Psychedelic Pill. Nils Lofgren steps in on Young’s request to complete the band’s signature sound, reprising his role on the 1970 album, After The Gold Rush, and Tonight’s The Night in 1975. Soaring harmonica leads the bluesy Think Of Me, as Young narrates about a relationship with the nature, “I can gallop across your open prairie/ While I dive beneath your deepest sea/ Think of me.” Climate change is on Young’s mind throughout Colorado. Neil Young sang of Mother Nature and his fears around environmental change in the 1970s’ After The Gold Rush, but his seems more and more vital with each passing moment. Unfortunately, Young has experienced the devastation himself. His recent shifting to Colorado came after Californian wildfires reduced his Malibu home to ashes. The piano ballad Green Is Blue further continues with the subject. “We heard the warning calls/ Ignored them/ We watched the weather change/ We saw the fire and floods,” he sings, reminding us that we had our chance to stop the damage wreaked by climate change, but now it’s too late. Milky Way has a bit of 60s’ psychedelia, reminiscent of Young’s collaboration with Crosby, Stills & Nash. Young holds onto his emotional side in the tender ballad Olden Days, a dedication to his old friend and longtime manager, the late Elliot Roberts. She Showed Me Love is a delightfully extensive environmental classic, full of sharp guitars and swelling vocal harmonies. Album closer I Do is one of the most charismatic songs Young has ever released in years. The genuinely sweet and memorably melodic track nearly draws you in.
Essential tracks: Think of Me, Olden Days, I Do, Rainbow of Colours
ALBUM OF THE MONTH
Cohesive and richly defined
FKA Twigs — Magdalene (Young Turks)
It’s been five years since London-based singer, songwriter and performance artiste FKA Twigs released her critically acclaimed debut. Magdalene denotes a weightier significance to Twigs’ second outing, which arrives after a well publicised, high-profile relationship and period of illness, since 2014’s groundbreaking LP1. The album finds Tahliah Debrett Barnett showing off her softer side with songs that address love, femininity, relationships and universe. In the album opener Thousand Eyes, she is burdened with the public pressure she lives with. “If you don’t pull me back, it wakes a thousand eyes,” she sings. The stunning Sad Day swings between droning and arrogance as Twigs reflects on her fallen relationships: “You’re running/ And I tried/ To make it work before.” Every track in the album is a roller coaster, moving from delicate piano-vocal duets to tense and furious beats and brass. Home With You is a mood-shifting piano ballad punctuated erratically by jarring industrial sounds. Twigs identifies with the central character of the album, Mary Magdalene. “I can lift you higher/ I do it like Mary Magdalene,” she sings in the title track. “I’m what you desire/ Come just a little bit closer ’til we collide.” Atlanta-based rapper, Future, joins her on Holy Terrain, while Skrillex co-produces the powerful track that describes the beginning of a relationship that eventually devolves into insecurity. Daybed keeps the somber prominence alive, while the album closer, Cellophane, wraps up the album with an obscure wave of poignant splendour. An admirable piece of work.
Essential tracks: Home With You, Mary Magdalene, Cellophane, Fallen Alien
It never lets go
Big Thief — Two Hands (4AD)
Following Big Thief’s third record, U.F.O.F., released only a few months ago, Two Hands is perhaps the band’s most consistent work yet. To match the drastic change in sound, while U.F.O.F. was recorded in the historic lush Bear Creek Studio in Woodinville, Washington, Two Hands was crafted in an isolated atmosphere of Sonic Ranch in the Chihuahuan Desert of Texas. Album opener, Rock and Sing, highlights the stark production and sets the tone for the rest of the album. The vulnerable, violent and protective imagery is woven throughout the collection. However, the lyrics here are more intuitive than you hear on previous records. Lead singer Adrianne Lenker’s vocals are more prominent here, which has largely moved away from the soft technique of its predecessor. The title track, Two Hands, features impressive guitar and xylophone, as a rhythm of mild brushed drums build a delicate soundscape. Electric guitar makes Not the most weighty track here, compared to the relatively acoustic nature of the rest of the album. Forgotten Eyes is a soaring ballad in which Lenker implores, “Forgotten eyes are the ones which we lose/ Forgotten hands are the ones which we choose/ To let go of, but it is no less a bruise/ On the collective arm keeping us high and gone.” Lenker’s unconventional vocals is undeniably a source of inspiration for her stunningly lyrics. The Toy arrests the fear and confusion caused by the constant threat of rising violence. “Cause the toy in my hand is real/ The toy in my hand is real,” Lenker croons with increasing urgency. With every piece of music, Big Thief achieves a deeper communion.
Essential tracks: Forgotten Eyes, Not, Rock and Sing,
Top 10 Singles
1. Someone You Loved Lewis Capaldi (CU)
2. Circles Post Melone (CU)
3. Senorita Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello (NM)
4. Truth Hurts Lizzo (FD)
5. Lose You To Love Me Selena Gomez (FD)
6. No Guidance Chris Brown feat. Drake (CU)
7. Memories Maroon 5 (NE)
8. Panini Lil Nas X (CU)
9. Good As Hell Lizzo (FD)
10. 10,000 Hours Dan + Shay & Justin Bieber (CU)
Legend: CU: Climbing Up; FD: Falling Down; NM: Non-mover; NE: New Entry
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