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Saturday, July 30, 2022


"Noise & Flowers"
Neil Young + Promise of the Real 
  Release Date - August 5th 
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Available for Pre-Order now and Out AUG. 5 Neil Young + Promise Of The Real announce a new live album, Noise & Flowers, that captures the group in all their glory on their 2019 European tour. The release will be accompanied by a similarly titled concert film that’s included in the album’s 2xLP+CD+Blu-ray Deluxe Edition, and as a stand-alone Blu-Ray disc. 

Neil Young writes on NYA:

‘NOISE AND FLOWERS’ is a record made just after the passing of my life - long manager and best friend, Elliot Roberts.

Promise of The Real and I had a tour planned of Europe. D and I were in the bus, on our way to New York to catch a plane to Europe . . . . when we got the call. After returning to the funeral for our beloved Elliot, we got on a plane and left for the tour.

During the tour, we had a poster of Elliot on a road case, right where he always stood during all shows. Everyone who was with us felt that this tour was amazing for its great vibe. The REAL and I delivered for Elliot.

Neil Young + Promise of the REAL

More on "Noise & Flowers" Coming in 2021: Neil Young + Promise of the REAL | NYA - UPDATED

More on The Story Behind The Album Cover "Noise & Flowers" by Neil Young + Promise of the Real .

More on Sneak Preview: "Noise & Flowers" Track by Neil Young + Promise Of The Real.

Also, a new video has been posted on NYA  | Hearse Theater of the making of Toast "How Ya Doin?".

Toast - How Ya Doin'?
Directed by John O'Neill
Running time: 22m34s
Produced by Bernard Shakey & Gary Ward / Edited by Rachel Simmer

 More on "TOAST" & "Are You Passionate?" ...

Neil Young Unreleased 2001 Album w/ Crazy Horse 
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At 7/31/2022 04:50:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

I listened to both versions at the same sitting. I really like the Neil and Pearl Jam version. Mirror Ball was released at a time when Neil was on a streak of great records and some people thought the streak ended here: wrong. Try to imagine the sound in your head and think of some other album they could have made? Neil in stream of consciousness mode came up with "I'm the Ocean" an endlessly fascinating song and theme(s). Not a criticism of the Noise and Flowers version. I'm just thinking of what "could have been" with Pearl Jam. Forgive me for a lack of musical terminology but it seems to me that Crazy Horse "lumbers" and this is great. Pearl Jam is sleeker. I am not sure if I know what I am talking about but "I'm the Ocean" and "Song X" are two great and strange songs that seem shockingly relevant at the moment.

At 8/01/2022 10:56:00 AM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

I was not considering Promise of the Real in the comparison-I was thinking how Neil sounds with Pearl Jam. Mirror Ball is loaded with great songs (IMO).

At 8/01/2022 11:41:00 AM, Blogger Sedan Delivery said...

The guitar solos on Throw Your Hatred Down from Mirror Ball contain my favorite Neil guitar playing of all time...and maybe my favorite playing by any guitar player ever. Would be difficult for any other version to compare, for me.

At 8/01/2022 04:37:00 PM, Blogger Art Carey said...

This release, coinciding with Joe Rogan's announcement that he won't let Trump on the Rogan Podcast, seems like a great time for Nei to declare victory and get back on Spotify!

At 8/01/2022 04:44:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Abner - good point on "I'm the Ocean" and "Song X" as being relevant in these times.

care to expand? The platform is yours.

We can only offer a CotM as reward.

@ Sedan Delivery - the future release w/ PJ in Dublin should be most welcome. guess that got pushed to '23?

@ Art - if we didn't know you better, we might suggest you're trying to stir things up?!

The other day on Patron ZOOM neil said "he's a walking contradiction".

so neil, throw your hatred down

At 8/01/2022 07:02:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Thanks Thrasher, a difficult time to be sure.

In my view, "Song X" immediately and deliberately takes on the absolute moral certainty of the "pro-life" movement. It does this while at the same time conjuring images of a society in decline: in fact, all of Mirror Ball sustains the sense of spiritual, moral, and intellectual emptiness. On Song X, it does not take any subtle interpreter to see ironically violent results of an absolute moral certitude as the "priest was there with sandy hair, religion by his side, he saw his law was broken, the punishment was applied."

The punishment in this case might be a bomb in an abortion clinic. But let's open the door to "the punishment" in relation to "life's a joy for girls and boys and only will get better." Punishment is the terror of losing control over reproductive rights, literally losing all control over one's body (please read about the women seeking abortions because of health problems...) it is incredible to see what this surge of religious self-righteousness is doing to human rights. We will indeed pay for this in multiple ways.

"I'm an accident" is- again in my opinion- the best first line of any Neil song but ONLY because of the whole. The song holds together in only the most precarious ways, but this might be the best way, the most certain way, to hold such a beast together. The narrator is both a single person and some sort of full time observer. Moving back and forth through history while at the same time transcending history with universals, the observer is finally warning us of the emptiness mentioned in the above (including some sharp insights into technology and society). One does one wonder then about the first line, an accident? This brings us back to the moral and epistemic ambiguity of human life- in short, the human predicament. This is a great piece of art and it does not surprise me that it generally fails to make the "top fifty Neil Young songs." It does not surprise me because our attention span is too short to stick with big and dense images and ideas.

"Truth Be Known" is the song I am playing day after day as we approach the end of summer. Why? Just the idea that a person can straight up speak the truth, in this case about himself, is cleansing to me. It is a voice from the edge, "living in this back street town" and "they all turned his back on him." Perhaps there is no line, "that the fire that was once your friend burns your fingers to the bone," which can more desperately capture desperation. For me, it ties into "the cupboards are bare but the streets are paved with gold." Have we helped those who are desperate? Are we helping them? There is a lot of desperation out there.

At 8/02/2022 10:00:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Abner - thanks much here for quick reply on "I'm the Ocean" and "Song X" relevancy.

Most of the time we toss that challenge out, we hear nothing back and move on.

b4 we go to CotM, we're going to spin the tunes to refresh and may (may not) add some context.

a fraught subject in our times. btw, we'll look up on SM, but have these songs been played live since the 90's?

At 8/02/2022 12:10:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Thrasher, context might be good- I fired off because it is right on my mind

At 8/04/2022 10:13:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Abner, Your posts here make fascinating reading--and nudge me to revisit Mirror Ball sooner than later. I'm quite partial to the Horse albums of the mid-late '90s (SWA, Broken Arrow, YOH), but a side effect of that deep focus has been my neglect of Mirror Ball. In a catalogue as vast as Neil's, we probably all have our "neglected" albums, those we've let fall by the wayside. Yours will be different from mine or anyone else's.

I'd be happy to see your trenchant analysis bloom into a cotm. In the past, reproductive rights is an issue I've been reluctant to engage "outside of a small circle of friends" (thank you, Phil Ochs!), mainly because I've found the issue ignites an exhausting level of emotional response that I don't usually wish to negotiate unless I already trust you. Also has to do with recognizing my limited POV as a male-bodied person, etc.

In light of recent developments, however, I may have to rethink my approach. Compassion, truth, human rights are too important to pussyfoot around.

At 8/05/2022 06:51:00 AM, Blogger Flyingscotzman said...

Greetings all. It's album release day (exciting!), so here are a few thoughts on Noise and Flowers.

Before we talk about Noise and Flowers, though, I think we need to talk about Life and Death.

(I know: all a bit heavy! But bear with me — we're going somewhere).

Tonight's the Night, of course, is a record about life (and death). Sleeps With Angels is a record about life (and death). Greendale is a record about life (and death).

No coincidence. Because wherever there's life, death is waiting in the wings.

That's true for you and me, for the butterfly on your window ledge, and the lamb in the slaughterhouse (and the men who put her there).

And although death is often distressing, the real problem is one of *denial*. Denial of our own mortality.

We humans get ourselves into trouble when we act as if we are Gods: impervious to death. And we get ourselves into trouble when we're terrified and act aggressively (which traces back to a caveman-style *fear* of death).

But if we can *accept* death, its proximity can bring out the best in us. And it inspires us to live our lives that much more vividly.

And that's what Noise and Flowers is all about.

The backstory:

Elliot Roberts, Neil's friend and manager of 50 years, passed away shortly before the European tour with Promise of the Real (from summer 2019) that this album captures.

By coincidence, one of my dearest friends was dying at the same time. I remember each day of June/July 2019 expanding in scope — seeming deeper, wider, more vivid than ever before.

Noise and Flowers is the sound of that feeling.

It's also the sound of Neil Young getting the very last drop of mileage out of the peak of his vocal range.

Example: Rockin' In The Free World was at the high end of Neil's vocal range when he wrote it. And 30 years later, it's *definitely* at the high end of his vocal range. (The performance here errs between sublime and shambolic, much like All Along The Watchtower on the Road Rock album.)

So there were lots of songs performed on this tour that didn't make the cut. Why? I think because they were "rough gems" that wouldn't have made the merciless transition from live *concert* to all-revealing live *album*.

But many of the performances that *are* here are special ones:

Intense, vulnerable, focused, fragile and powerful — all at the same time.

(Continues below)...

At 8/05/2022 06:55:00 AM, Blogger Flyingscotzman said...

Prior to 2019, my "scathing" assessment of Promise of the Real was that they "too often filled in the musical gaps that sound best when left unfilled".

But the 2019 tour saw a surprise attack on the "less is more" front. It saw POTR strip away all the extra stuff: less of a collage, and more putting a metaphorical spotlight onto the man at the heart of it all.

Being in the spotlight can be scary!

But the spotlight is also where an artist rises to the occasion. And that's what Neil, Lukas, Micah, Anthony, Corey and Tato do on this record.

The sound mix on Noise and Flowers is an oddity. The overall effect is like an audience bootleg tape on acid. It's a bit "lo-fi" at times. Some of the tracks have a slap-back echo effect that makes the left channel feel slightly out-of-kilter with the right. I'm not sure how I feel about it!

As Neil puts it:

"This music belongs to no one. It's in the air, every note was played for music's great friend, Elliot".

The whole thing aims for that soupy, swampy, swimming-in-reverb sound that will be familiar to anyone who's ever been to an *actual* arena gig.

Veteran readers and writers here know that I adore the authentic live sound. With that disclaimer, the sound of this record is not *always* the most sterling example of its type... it's a bit narrow, at times a touch distant. But part of that may be due to limitations of the original recordings.

(We've also been spoilt recently with Toast, a sonic masterpiece).

Opinion: Noise and Flowers is one of those albums that's best when nonchalantly blasted at full volume, rather than savored on bass-shy audiophile headphones.

And hey, before you knock it (or me) as unsophisticated: TRY IT.

Mr Soul kicks the album off with a sense of no-nonsense, "let's get down to business" swagger. F*!#in' Up concludes it with a high-octane sonic demolition job.

In between, we have... noise and flowers. We have sweetness, lightness, gracefulness, peace, war, up-beat country rockers, mourning, palpable sadness, explosions, and a spine-chilling electric version of On The Beach.

But mostly, we have life and death.

With this swirling, chaotic, intense, fragile, mysterious album being the sound of a magical dimension that exists outside of either one.


At 8/05/2022 01:06:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Scotzman, Your amazing comments (wish I could think of a stronger adjective at present—but can’t!) prompted me to give N&F a listen this morning. What a treat: the set list is expansive—as is the Earth album’s track selection as the Real seem to inspire NY to reach into all corners of his catalog. The fact that they can do the light, breezy country stuff, the raw and rowdy streams of grunge noise, and anything between—this suggests Neil and POTR are well-matched musically. By harping on what POTR (hence forth known as “The Real”) is not (i.e. raw and primal on a Crazy Horse level), some folks have, in my opinion, missed what the band is.

Among other things, POTR is—after 50 f*%%%^^ing years—the perfect band to play Winterlong. An “orphan song”, one of those rubies in the dust most of us first heard on Decade. A beautiful melody that never quite fit on any album. I’m not convinced the OtB sessions ever produced the best possible take. But—with apologies and high regards for Ben Keith’s lyrical pedal steel passages, which are missed in their own right—with N&F, I have a new favorite incarnation of Winterlong. Vocals gel (by NY standard), the band gets its groove going, and trading the steel licks for a more electric, equally textured sound emphasizes the rock aspect of the song in a way that beautifully harmonizes with its softness. Finishing the album with Winterlong leading straight into Fuckin’ Up is in itself a stroke of mad brilliance. From the sublime to the breathlessly primal.

The Real is a great band, whether you like their specific sound or not, and N&F proves it be stripping off some of the aural layers added to previous outings with Neil. I am, however, quite partial to the other, collaged sound Scotzman refers to. For The Visitor, I see that sound as a largely successful experiment, the sound bites and crowd recordings being a logical, organic extension of LWW’s approach to broadcasting the vox pops and other elements deepening—or seasoning—the soundscapes for those particular songs.

Again, take The Real for what it is, instead of what it’s not. The ultimate question, then, is what POTR brings to NY by virtue of its a own merits. The clearest answer, for me, comes in the language of alchemy: the Real is mercury. quicksilver (where quick=living, an active element. The transmuting agent through which otherwise inert ingredients to grow and change. Or to put it another way, Neil and the Real can work as sol and luna (sun and moon, gold and silver), basic energies that collide to produce change in matter. Yin and yang. Flowers and noise.

Metaphors aside, my point is that The Real have had catalyzing and rejuvenating impact on NY. A lot like the Horse, Neil and the Real together generate a transformative process of message and music. Agree or disagree with the message. Like or dislike the music, but respect the value of the Real as an infusion of creative energy that has helped Neil develop his voice, his vision, and passion as a simultaneously aging and evolving artist.

At 8/05/2022 01:17:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Scotsman - Yet again Scotsman, you have given us all much to chew on here. Actually, we have not had a chance to listen just yet. Of course, our memories will be filtered by the tours we caught with Neil + REAL, although not the Europe leg.

We are quite looking forward to seeing the concert video.

See CotM @

@ Meta Rocker - we'll get back to you. just wanted to get this CotM up on TW

At 8/05/2022 02:32:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

One thing at a time, thrasher… a maxim whose wisdom is proven by the typos in my last post. Wish there was an edit function.

Like with all pieces of art, I look at each recording from Neil and The Real as bits of philosopher’s stone or elixir. A fanciful metaphor, maybe, the idea of art and music as agents of change for a universe always in flux.

There are other aspects of N&F I didn’t touch on—fantastic drumming, those crazy breakdowns and buildups on the “noise” songs. Actually thinking of pushing the boat out on the blu-ray, a little unusual for me. Plowin’ time in the field of opportunity, no doubt.

At 8/05/2022 04:40:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Meta Rocker - sure, no problem.

really need to give N&F a spin or 2 before getting into engaging here.
and right, the true philosopher’s stone is always in FLUX.

At 8/06/2022 10:33:00 AM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Oh no, not that- "the philosopher's stone"! Ahhhh!! Alchemy!!! Ahhhhhh!!

Let's go with real chemical synergy for our analogy. We don't need magic, we have nature.

At 8/06/2022 01:58:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

@Abner, For context, I write fantasy and have a research interest in medieval and renaissance studies. So I’m letting a bit of my own eccentricity show, yes, but there’s more to the picture…

Your response brings up a few interesting points. To medieval and Renaissance “natural philosophers”, there was no clear difference between the two: magical or occult properties were simply understood as an aspect of what we would call “nature”. Magic need not be inexplicable or even “supernatural”—Giordano Bruno, for instance, saw no fundamental divide between our material universe and the spiritual; Cornelius Agrippa or Ficino wrote on “natural magic.”

We hardly need limit ourselves to one or the other, especially when we’re really speaking in metaphors. In fact, what is the value of metaphor? Why bother with metaphor or analogy if literal, empirically verifiable truth is sufficiently clear and precise? I think it all depends on exactly what one is trying to build a metaphor *to*. In this case, for me, it’s less about showing an isolated chemical reaction and more to do with a creative process that makes both art and life.

One of the most useful thinking skills one can try to teach is discerning metaphor from literal truth. If more people could do this, we might have fewer fundamentalist and reactionary groups around us. Pursuit of truth is noble and necessary, but sometimes I worry about steamrolling over creative thought, the value of imaginative storytelling, in the intense focus on hard facts. Surely, the value of art does not rest on pure naturalism or any flavor of social realism.

Confusing myth for fact is perilous, a problem not solved by simply discounting the value of myth, fiction, intuition altogether.

At 8/06/2022 03:12:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Ian, I was kidding and I teach the history of ancient and med philosophy, and the history of science- I know what you are talking about- all interesting stuff, I was just in for a bit of levity.

Wittgenstein thought Freud had invented a mythology and some thought this was a severe criticism, Wittgenstein immediately disagreed. Myths hold the meanings of cultures. The confusions run deep. I'm with you.

At 8/06/2022 04:02:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 8/06/2022 04:51:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

*previous post deleted due to typos* Abner, Sometimes my tone detection is faulty. Hope my rambling may be helpful to someone somewhere. Realistically, I imagine you've spent more time with some of these texts than I have, especially the ancient Greek side.

As an armchair enthusiast, I never was quite grounded enough for classical philosophy. I've often found the ancient eastern stuff more accessible; the synthesis of storytelling and philosophy feels organic and flexible. Offhand, I can't think of many ancient western texts, except maybe Aesop, that are both didactic and readable as stories. Possibly that's because many of the core philosophical texts have survived as actual lecture notes.

At 8/06/2022 05:16:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Ian, this fall I start my 33rd year as a prof. I regard the admission of ignorance of any subject to be a primary intellectual and personal virtue. So, I will admit back that I know next to nothing about ancient eastern stuff...the chances slipped away over time, you have to make choices because we are limited in so many ways. The opposite of this is the armchair blabbermouth, mansplainer, or whatever. I find your posts always interesting, intelligent and engaging.

I think I have said this before- I have an embarrassing lack when it comes to music, I have zero formal knowledge. And, if you can believe this (it is true, I swear), my fifth grade music teacher told me that I had no musical ability. Someone told me that mathematical ability translates to musical ability- I guess not in my case! That event, being told I had no ability, STILL motivates me as a professor. I love finding the 18 year old who has been told they can't do x, y, or z and then helping them to overcome that shit.

Truth be Known, I actually spent every other music class with a school counselor, so I missed music a lot. I had many troubles at home.... it is so easy to misjudge. Sorry if my tone was off, always remember I would never put you down.

At 8/06/2022 06:41:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Thanks, Abner. When I write about music, it's fairly subjective and impressionistic. Not based on any formal music theory. It would feel misplaced to analyze Neil Young's music with a lot of technical terms. He does not strike me as a theory head. Outside classical music, a lot of musicians probably have no more theory than any of us got in grade school.

On eastern philosophy, I was considering mostly Hindu and Vedic texts--I realize some would think Confucius, Tao, or I Ching. The Buddha legend is well-known, having been retold in many sources over the years. From the Sanskrit tradition, the classic starting point is The Bhagavad Gita. I recommend any of the Upanishads for a more wide-ranging mixture of philosophy and tale-telling. Various translations and plenty of scholarship around. Even being limited by translation on both ends, it's a strong contrast from Greek scholasticism.

At 8/08/2022 12:14:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Scotsman - As you say, before we talk about Noise and Flowers, we need to talk about Life and Death.

we replied on another thread the extreme relevance of L&D to the subject to N&F


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