Neil Young & Crazy Horse
When Neil Young picks up the phone and calls guitarist Frank "Poncho" Sampedro, bassist Billy Talbot and drummer Ralph Molina, it generally means he's ready to grind it out with Crazy Horse. The Horse had been grazing in the pasture since 2003's Greendale until the Summer of 2012 when Young and the group threw together a nutty sing-around-the-campfire, nursery-rhyme-filled 11-song collection called Americana. The fix was fulfilled, but it was hardly what fans were waiting for. Psychedelic Pill is what Neil Young and Crazy Horse fans were waiting for.
The way to experience Young and the Horse is to expect nothing and reap the rewards. There's really no mystery to Psychedelic Pill if you're looking for that classic Neil Young and Crazy Horse sound, because there's more than enough of that. If you've been reading Young's book, Waging Heavy Peace, you'll laugh when you hear him sing about it on the first cut, "Driftin' Back." Actually, Young weighs in on everything from Picasso to MP3s every five minutes or so on this 27-minute-plus opener. Mostly, he's laying down that whining, distorted guitar over the Crazy Horse bedrock - a simple, euphoric chemistry you can't resist.
The other two epics, clocking in at over 16 minutes, "Ramada Inn" and the feedback-heavy "Walk Like A Giant," are equally dense and grungy. The latter gives parts of Young and the Horse's infamous Arc disc a run for its money. If you wanted to pinpoint any potential hits, "Twisted Road," with a cozy "Heart Of Gold" rhythm, references to Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and the Grateful Dead, and an especially cheerful chorus of "Let the good times roll," would certainly qualify. "She's Always Dancing" slithers and slides like "Cinnamon Girl" meets "Like A Hurricane," while "Born In Ontario" could have rounded out Tonight's The Night with a suave after taste.
There are two takes of the up-tempo title track, one a trite over-oscillated in the phaser department and the other seemingly unphased, along with one un-Crazy Horse-like, achingly stark and beautiful ballad called "For The Love Of Man." A few doses of Psychedelic Pill and you see, amidst all the stuff populating the charts, Neil Young and Crazy Horse are all about staying true to their roots, their unique and messy sound, their up-and-down existence. Perhaps that's because Young is able to do what makes sense to him, only him, without having to compromise. Sort of the way real life should be for the rest of us.
~ Shawn Perry