Must Have CD's

by Scott Thill


Neil Young, Prairie Wind

Sure, it might not rock as hard as past efforts like Tonight's the Night, Mirror Ball and even his recent environmentalist epic Greendale, but cut the Canadian legend some slack, will you? The guy just survived a brain aneurysm earlier this year, for Pete's sake. He's not feeling the distortion just now. In other words, Prairie Wind finds Young during some of his more quiet moments, once with guest Emmylou Harris; but don't be fooled: He still knows which way we're headed. Even if he's not screaming about it or turning the stacks of amplifiers up to 11, to paraphrase Spinal Tap. Give this one a spin and put yourself in the mind of a bracingly honest artist watching his world go to war, and wondering what his well-decorated life has come to.


Milemarker, Ominosity

If you think dance and punk don't really go together, then think again. Not that I'm comfortable with calling what Milemarker does, but I've seen that distinction lobbed their way to excess, so maybe it's the way they use synths. It's true, they sound weird atop the churning drums and relentless rock that Milemarker doles out with skill and ease. But they can sometimes brush up strangely against the band's powerhouse politics, one that's as progressive as it's informed. Plus, these guys deliver rugged poetry comparable to Fugazi and Pearl Jam alike. They're the real deal, and Ominosity is one of their most compelling releases to date. But if you're hankering for a serious Milemarker mindtrip, try the track "Ant Architect" from their effort Anaesthetic. It's simply astounding.


Pink Floyd, Animals

While we're on the subject of rock and politics, perhaps it's apropos that we set aside this, the desert-island keeper part of the column, for Pink Floyd's most underrated album ever. Yes, Roger Waters dominated the proceedings here, but we should all be so lucky to have a guy who can mash Orwell's Animal Farm with the stylings of Floyd's atmospheric classic Wish You Were Here without a miss. Like that album, as well as Dark Side of the Moon, The Wall and The Final Cut, Animals is indeed a concept album, albeit one that drags capitalism, fascism and pretty much every other ism there is through the trenches. But it also is one of their sonic triumphs: David Gilmour's eardrum-shredding solo for the album finest track "Pigs" is one of his most emotional -- and that's saying something, considering this is the guy who shredded "Cormfortably Numb" -- but the trenchant "Sheep" is also on of Water's lyrical masterpieces. All told, the disc only features about five tunes, but it's more jam-packed with meaning that almost everything being released today. Do your friends a favor and buy them a copy of this classic now.

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