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Critics' summer picks | POP MUSIC

An aural assault to remember

May 22, 2003|Robert Hilburn

Fresh off a European solo acoustic tour, Neil Young teams again this summer with longtime sidekick Crazy Horse, which means bring earplugs. Drummer Ralph Molina, bassist Billy Talbot and guitarist Frank "Poncho" Sampedro play l-o-u-d, giving Young's music a sense of sonic assault that is so emotionally cleansing it takes on an almost spiritual edge.

Young's last album, 2002's "Are You Passionate?" presented the ageless wonder as soul man, but that doesn't mean he'll necessarily play many of those songs at the Greek, July 22-23. Young may, though, preview some songs from an ambitious new album due in the fall. Titled "Greendale," the album is written in the form of a musical novel -- with each song representing a chapter in the tale.

Then again, part of the lure of Young concerts is that you never know quite what he's going to do. You just know it'll be inspired. So, most likely, will be the opening act. Lucinda Williams will surely be playing a lot of her new album, "World Without Tears," which steps away slightly from her folk-country roots for more rock 'n' roll bite. It's a hauntingly naked work about relationships that don't work.

-- Robert Hilburn

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