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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 5, 2006

Neil Young makes waves with 'War'

USA Today and Gannett News Service

Neil Young's latest album is a nuanced indictment of the Bush administration.

CHRIS PIZZELLO | Associated Press

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"LIVING WITH WAR" BY NEIL YOUNG

Bruised, seething and relentless, "War" is nonetheless a more nuanced indictment of the Bush administration than song titles such as "Let's Impeach the President" might suggest. "We went with what we knew and now we can't go back," Young sings on "Shock and Awe," "but we had a chance to change our mind."

The muscular singalongs here aren't always as imaginative as they are impassioned. Still, at a time when few commercial artists on either side of the fence are willing to make waves, it's nice to know there are a few folks left who won't just shut up and sing.

Elysa Gardner

"PEARL JAM" BY PEARL JAM

The grunge-era survivors who never lost their moral compass finally rediscovered their rip code. The urgent, guitar-shredding rock measures up to the intensity of the Seattle band's well-known political stands. Both aspects coexist in ear-popping harmony on this welcome return to the boxing ring that produced 1993's "Vs." and 1994's "Vitalogy."

Life in these disunited States provides ample fodder for the band's scalding attacks on the dehumanizing systems of corporations ("Unemployable") and the military ("Army Reserve"). "World Wide Suicide," already frying the airwaves with indignation, is a stormy anti-war rant tailor-made for Eddie Vedder's howling rasp.

Unapologetically political, Pearl Jam's tunes, fueled on dread, defiance and determination, wouldn't get past the leaflet stage without the music's muscular pounding and the volcanic guitars of Mike McCready and Stone Gossard.

Edna Gundersen

"GOODBYE ALICE IN WONDERLAND" BY JEWEL

Having deftly dabbled in dance-music textures on her last studio album, 2003's "0304," Jewel reclaims, or at least re-emphasizes, her roots as a sensitive folk-pop troubadour.

The singer is no longer the earnest ingenue she was in the '90s, as tracks such as the romantically ambivalent single "Again and Again" and the pointed "Stephenville, TX" make clear. Though not as adventurous as some of her more recent work, "Goodbye" confirms that Jewel hasn't lost her sense of wonder.

Elysa Gardner

"BLOOD MONEY" BY MOBB DEEP

The infamous ones' first album under the G-Unit banner strikes a balance between their trademark grit and 50 Cent's characteristic radio polish.

Hit single "Put 'Em in Their Place" features the dark grooves and menacing lyrics that Prodigy and Havoc are known for, but also boasts a catchy hook that makes it hard to shake. "Click Click," "The Infamous" and "Speakin' So Freely" are the kind of gunplay anthems you expect from the duo, though "In Love with the Moula" seems more in line with 50's usual shtick.

"Pearly Gates" (one of three tracks with 50) offers a contrast in styles. While 50 hopes to talk his way into heaven, Prodigy is only interested in raising hell.

Steve Jones