Neil Young + Promise Of The Real/ The Monsanto Years (Reprise, 2015)
A concept album about a dystopian future where a chemical corporation attempts to control the food supply chain while marching hand and hand with corrupt politicians. Unfortunately, The Monsanto Years is not about a dystopian future but is rather the ugly truth about America in 2015. After a few acoustic and experimental albums Neil is back with his first full on Rock album since 2012's Psychedelic Pill. Whereas that album was lyrically reflective and mournful, this album is lyrically angry and full of intent. This album will make you think, whether or not you agree that GMOs are evil or not. I am not convinced that GMOs are pure evil, but if they are truly totally safe then why the resistance to labeling food products? What is there to be afraid of? I say give folks the choice by providing information and leave it at that.
People Want To Hear About Love swings wide, with Neil trying to take down everything that angers him about our times. Neil Young is not wrong. This world is going in the wrong direction and we are letting it happen. Someone recently told me something that I want to share with all of you out there in Internet land. “People don't want to hear the truth, they want to hear something that makes them feel good.” This song mercilessly mocks that sentiment, being catchy and sing-songy in the chorus with Neil spitting venom at corporations, the Government, and anything else that gets in his way. Big Box is another one, this one aiming primarily at giant stores and banks. The chorus Too big too fail/ Too rich for jail is great.
There is lots of tasty riffing in these songs. Neil Young is obviously inspired by this brave new world of ours. Workin' Man is fantastic, and the lyrics are sobering. I distrust corporations even more than I distrust the Government, and that's saying something. I wouldn't put anything past anyone in either camp. Willie Nelson's sons have joined with Neil as the backing band Promise Of The Real, and they are as muscular sounding as Crazy Horse.
Neil Young has been insanely prolific these past few years, releasing two albums a year for several years now. He is in the twilight of his career and he knows it. He also knows that someone needs to say what he has said on this album but most people are afraid to lay it on the line like he has. This is an important album that everyone needs to hear. It is the sound of this moment, right here and now.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.25 out of 5.
The OCD zone- This is the part of the show where I go into the packaging aspects of physical media. I am a physical media dinosaur in an era of clouds and iPods. I bought this on CD. It comes in a cardboard gatefold sleeve with the CD and a booklet in the front pocket and a DVD in the back pocket.