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Sound Check

6/24/2015

The Lonesome TrioLonesome Trio
Self-titled
Sugar Hill Records

Consisting of “The Office” and “Daily Show” alum Ed Helms and Oberlin College mates Ian Riggs and Jacob Tilove, The Lonesome Trio has a bit of the “entertainer’s stigma” to overcome. Plenty of actors have dabbled in music, with varying degrees of success, but most of them stick to the more radio friendly pop end of the musical scale. But in the Lonesome Trio, Helms, Riggs and Tilove have produced a shockingly earnest bluegrass album that revels in how square it is. The trio is talented in unadventurous musicians. None of the songs try to get creative with complex harmonies or tricky time signatures. Instead, each song is laid out as simply as possible and given as lovingly unadorned a treatment as possible. CV

 

Neil Young + Promise of the RealNeil Young
“The Monsanto Years”
Reprise

So here is the thing that nobody wants to admit: As Neil Young has gotten older, he has gradually transitioned into the Baby Boomer’s version of Bono. Where the rocker’s songs were once the protest anthems of a generation, age has dulled Young’s bite, and a growing sense of legacy has made him increasingly self-indulgent. The result is stuff like “The Monsanto Years,” a well-enough-meaning concept album, intent upon telling us all about the dangers of living under the corporate thumb of a bio-generating monster. It is an album rife with admirable intentions and half-assed execution. The result is an album where the man who wrote “Ohio” spends five minutes whistling a tune about Starbucks and using the term “GMO” like he just found it on Wikipedia that morning and is still feeling out its meaning. Young’s modus operandi has always been to just throw as much stuff out as possible — this is his 36th solo album — and see what sticks. This album will be forgotten in less time than it took to make. CV

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