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Thursday, May 4, 2006 07:02 am

Vinyl Static

Neil Young for president – and Chicago jams this summer

CD exchange: Neil Young for president. What’s that, you say? Neil Young is Canadian! So Neil Young couldn’t be the leader of our fair democracy, but at least, we can muse, “What would Neil Young do?” With his newest release, Living in War, one can certainly formulate a solid hypothesis. The protest album unleashes Young’s peaceful fury over the Iraq War and President George W. Bush, but the best thing about it, aside from the fact that Young actually takes bold stands on some issues, is that the songs are good. Crunchy metal guitars, a hallelujah chorus of dissenters, and Young’s signature falsetto adorn the labor of love Young was compelled to record and release in as much urgency as his topical lyrics imply. As of May 2, Living in War is available only on the Internet, but the record hits the streets soon after. Young’s anthemic love letters to free speech and the country he has called home for more than 40 years stand out as genuine cries for change. Songs such as “Shock and Awe,” exploring the plight of young soldiers, and “Let’s Impeach the President,” demanding action in the halls of Congress, are hopeful calls to action.
Cruel summer: Chicago’s summer schedule is overwhelming the Vinyl Static desk with festival information, and the diverse lineups make it hard to say no to any of them. Exhibit A: The Intonation Festival, curated by New York tastemakers Vice Records, features artists running the gamut from star producer Jon Brion to hip-hop up-and-comer Lupe Fiasco. The festival’s roster is a highlight reel of underground music, but taking a chance on the performers is mandatory because most of these artists are still hovering just under the radar. Among the featured acts: little rapper from across the pond Lady Sovereign, who has inked a deal with Island Def Jam and is working in the studio with Ad-Rock of Beastie Boys fame on the LP. Rhymefest, the pen behind Kanye West’s triumph “Jesus Walks,” takes the stage in support of his first full-length, Blue Collar, which comes out July 11. Other highlights: Devin the Dude, Bloc Party, and Dead Prez. Intonation takes place June 24 and 25 at Union Park. A one-day pass costs $20; $35 buys two days of music.
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