Neil Young and Crazy Horse -- Psychedelic Pill

  • Neil Young is one of the few rock musicians that can keep a lengthy, two-chord song from being boring. For his second album this year with his old band Crazy Horse, Young indulges himself with four eight-minute-plus songs, three of which are longer than 15 minutes. Unsurprisingly, these end up being the best songs; while "Driftin' Back" could have clocked in at a little less than 27 minutes, it doesn't drag. The other long songs follow in the mold of Young and Crazy Horse classics like "Cowgirl in the Sand," with Young's great solos coming in over fuzzy, arpeggiated guitar and his vocals making an occasional appearance as well. "Ramada Inn," the best of these songs, sounds like it could fit right into Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. The shorter songs, like the sophomoric "Born in Ontario," are no "Cinnamon Girl," but that's OK -- the four songs don't even make up a quarter of the album.
  • If you had to have three: "Ramada Inn," "She's Always Dancing," "Walk Like A Giant"

Aerosmith -- Music From Another Dimension!

  • Whatever dimension Aerosmith's new album is from seems like the same one where the band has always lived -- just a little less interesting. At the very least, Music From Another Dimension, Aerosmith's first album of original material since 2001's Just Push Play, proves that the talent is still there. Joe Perry can still write groovy, kicking guitar riffs, and Steven Tyler, at 64, somehow still has the same trademark screech and timbre his voice had in the 90s.

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    Songs like "Out Go The Lights" and "Beautiful" are when these elements come together nicely, but too much of the album feels a little mailed in, even though there are no real duds. The ballads, seemingly driven by Tyler, don't have the same spark as something like "Crazy," though some (e.g. the almost-there "What Could Have Been Love") are better than others (e.g. the pointless Carrie Underwood feature, "Can't Stop Loving You). But at their age, it could have been a lot worse.
  • If you had to have three: "Out Go The Lights," "LUV XXX," "Beautiful"

Follow Pete McQuaid on Twitter @sweetestpete.