Music Notes: Neil Young, Woods, Health and Crushed Butler

1. The question isn’t if Woods have put out the best album of the summer, it’s whether At Echo Lake is the best album to bubble up out of the Brooklyn underground this year.  It’s really hard to say, and to be honest, I shouldn’t even make a statement like that — it’s barely June!

2009’s Songs of Shame has stayed on my turntable since I made the proclamation that it was one of the best albums of the year, and even though I was a total skeptic, the band has followed up with a total winner full of more too-much-sun-psych led by a singer that sounds like Jad Fair doing Neil Young covers.  Woods has become a songwriting juggernaut without giving up the experimental side, one of the only bands around who I find myself getting more and more excited about.

2. Speaking of Neil Young, he played in upstate New York with Bert Jansch a few weeks ago.  I was (sadly) unable to make it, but thankfully I follow Largehearted Boy on Twitter.  He hipped me to these live recordings from the show, including Jansch tackling “Katie Cruel”, adding his own haunted twist on a song that I consider one of the greatest ever.
As I listened to this, I noticed that Young doing “Helpless” gets better as the man gets older.  His voice is more fragile than ever, but just as perfect as it ever was.

3. I’ll admit that going from Woods/Neil Young/Burt Jansch to commenting on the forthcoming album full of Health songs remixed by the likes of Crystal Castles, Tobacco, Small Black, and Gold Panda might seem a little forced or awkward, but then again, so does Health’s place in the landscape of American music.  Are they the new Nine Inch Nails all covered in dayglo paint, or are they tapping into the same channels that Throbbing Gristle was picking up on when they wanted to actually make music?  Whatever the case, the upcoming Disco2 (Lovepump United) is worth your time + money for so many reasons.

4.  There are probably 6 million bands that “could have been huge”, but there is only 1 Crushed Butler.  I’d heard one or two of their songs on some glitter rock comps I’d bought a few years back, but it was until this week, when I picked up the Radio HeartbeatLP of the 70’s English rock bands “definitive” recordings, Uncrushed, that I realized how much the world missed out on this band.  Proto punk that brings to mind Black Sabbath and pub rock.  Each song is bliss.