Neil Young Blazes, Swift Flirts, Green Day Goes Mad: CDs

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Source: Julie Gardner/Warner Brothers Records via Bloomberg

Neil Young, third from left, and band members of Crazy Horse. Young has reunited with the band for the 2012 albums "Americana" and "Psychedelic Pill."

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Source: Julie Gardner/Warner Brothers Records via Bloomberg

Neil Young, third from left, and band members of Crazy Horse. Young has reunited with the band for the 2012 albums "Americana" and "Psychedelic Pill." Close

Neil Young, third from left, and band members of Crazy Horse. Young has reunited with the band for the 2012 albums... Read More

Source: Warner via Bloomberg

"Psychedelic Pill" by Neil Young and Crazy Horse. The double album starts with the 27-minute "Driftin' Back" as Young recalls the 1960s. Close

"Psychedelic Pill" by Neil Young and Crazy Horse. The double album starts with the 27-minute "Driftin' Back" as Young... Read More

Source: XL Recordings via Bloomberg

The cover of "The Bravest Man in the Universe" by Bobby Womack. The CD is the 27th studio album by Womack and was produced by Damon Albarn and Richard Russell. Close

The cover of "The Bravest Man in the Universe" by Bobby Womack. The CD is the 27th studio album by Womack and was... Read More

Source: Epic via Bloomberg

Fiona Apple's album, known as "The Idler Wheel." Its full title is "The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do." Close

Fiona Apple's album, known as "The Idler Wheel." Its full title is "The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the... Read More

Source: Big Machine Records via Bloomberg

"Red" by Taylor Swift. The U.S. singer-songwriter's fourth studio album comes as a standard edition and also as a deluxe version featuring more songs and demo tracks. Close

"Red" by Taylor Swift. The U.S. singer-songwriter's fourth studio album comes as a standard edition and also as a... Read More

Source: Reprise via Bloomberg

"Uno" by Green Day. The post-punk band started recording a new album in 2012 and discovered there was enough material for three discs, now being released a month apart. Close

"Uno" by Green Day. The post-punk band started recording a new album in 2012 and discovered there was enough material... Read More

Members of U.K. band Damn Vandals, led by Jack Kansas (center). He is supported by Adam Kilemore Gardens (bass), Chris Christianson (drums) and Frank Pick (guitar). Photograph: Marcus Maschwitz/ Manilla PR Ltd via Bloomberg. Close

Members of U.K. band Damn Vandals, led by Jack Kansas (center). He is supported by Adam Kilemore Gardens (bass),... Read More

Source: Manilla PR via Bloomberg

"Done for Desire" by U.K. band Damn Vandals. The debut disc includes the single "This Amazing." Close

"Done for Desire" by U.K. band Damn Vandals. The debut disc includes the single "This Amazing."

Neil Young’s 35th studio album might have been a train wreck.

It’s his second in four months, rush-released and speedily recorded. It includes two self-indulgent tracks stretching to 16 minutes each and another one topping out at nearly half an hour.

“Psychedelic Pill” may sound an odd title given Young’s shunning of drugs. He regresses to the 1960s on the slow-burn opener “Driftin’ Back.” Some of his lyrics are plain ridiculous: “I’m gonna get me a hip-hop haircut” indeed.

Still, many Young epics have silly words. And this time there’s at least nothing quite as bad as the infamous chorus: “Down by the river, I shot my baby.”

I’ve always liked long Young tracks -- “Like a Hurricane,” “Ordinary People,” “Love to Burn,” “Cortez the Killer” -- and this album adds more to the impressive canon as he saddles up his old cohorts Crazy Horse.

It’s a companion piece to Young’s recent autobiography, “Waging Heavy Peace.” The deadpan book covers years of excess: friends’ drug deaths and the star’s own health problems including a near-fatal brain aneurism. There’s also copious mention of his environmental campaigns.

The memoir’s final chapter begins: “A lot has happened over the years. I am now a very successful musician with a lot of stuff and things of value.” The new album can be counted among them. Rating: ****.

Young isn’t the only rock veteran to come back from health scares: Bobby Womack, who has had surgery for colon cancer, has released the excellent “The Bravest Man in the Universe.”

The CD has been out for a few months but has gradually been picking up plaudits, such as the Best Album award from Q Magazine this month. It’s coproduced by Damon Albarn of Blur and has Lana Del Rey guesting on one track. Rating: ****.

Fiona Apple’s latest also takes a while to digest -- even longer than to say its title: “The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do.” The collection starts with the pleasant “Every Single Night” and veers into challenging songs that seem to be difficult for the sake of it, and attempts to outdo Regina Spektor or Joanna Newsom. Rating: **.

Another U.S. singer-songwriter, Taylor Swift, adds a little Joni Mitchell-style maturity to her commercial cutting edge. This sometimes means obtuse lyrics and gently strummed guitars. Then she’s back in radio-friendly mode with “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” The CD, “Red,” has rocketed off to strong sales and it’s musically more successful than Apple’s. Rating: ***.

Green Day went crazy in the studio this year and ended up with enough material for a three-disc set. The first volume is out now and called “Uno.” No prizes for guessing the titles of the next two: “Dos” and “Tre.” There’s also talk of a documentary called “Quatro.” The band stays true to its postpunk form with stripped-down bar rock and direct lyrics on “Kill the DJ.” Rating: **.

U.K. band Damn Vandals has a stronger album, “Done for Desire,” with some aggressive songs such as the opener “Revolution/ Rehearsal.” I hope these guys make it. Kasabian, and Green Day, should weep. Rating: ****.

What the Stars Mean:
*****      Exceptional
****       Excellent
***        Good
**         Average
*          Poor
(No stars) Worthless

Young’s album was released yesterday on Warner, Womack is on XL and Apple on Epic. The CD prices start at $10 and download prices vary across services.

Damn Vandals is on import from the U.K.’s Sexy Beast records and there are deluxe editions of Swift, on Big Machine, and Green Day on Reprise, all for $20.

Information: http://neilyoungpsychpill.warnerreprise.com, http://bobbywomack.com, http://www.fiona-apple.com, http://taylorswift.com, http://www.greenday.com, http://damnvandals.co.uk.

Young’s book (500 pages) is published by Blue Rider Press at $30 or $450 for a limited signed edition. To buy the book in North America, click here.

(Mark Beech writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

Muse highlights include Warwick Thompson on U.K. stage, Rich Jaroslovsky on tech, Jeremy Gerard on New York theater and Ryan Sutton on New York dining.

To contact the writer on the story: Mark Beech in London at mbeech@bloomberg.net or http://twitter.com/home/Mark_Beech.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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