When it comes to angry, pissed- off rockers with a message, how come Australia
gets Midnight Oil and North America gets stuck with some aged hippie like
Neil Young? I mean, take Farm Aid '97... please. That's the last time I
bothered listening to Young-- he was rambling on about how we should buy only
organic foods. Now, I slept through a lot of biology classes, but I thought
all food was organic to some degree. I've never heard of anyone living
on plastic alone.
And then he's talking about saving the poor family farmer. Excuse me? Have
you ever been to Illinois, Mr. Young? While most of us Southside Chicago kids
were hoping to maybe get a used Mustang, Firebird, or Monte Carlo for our
eighteenth birthdays, farmer's kids are driving around in BMWs and Mercedes.
Most family farmers in Illinois are millionaires on paper. Banks are afraid
to foreclose on them.
Oh, wait, this was supposed to be a review about the new Midnight Oil album.
Pardon my brief outburst. After all, Neil Young has a recording contract, and
I'm just a writer for Pitchfork. So here's what you need to know:
Redneck Wonderland's title cut starts out the album. A song about
intolerance and conservatism, Peter Garrett and the boys show they still have
plenty of muscle to flex after 20 some years. With production spruced up from
1996's sparse Breathe, Garrett's screech, Rob Hirst's drums, and Martin
Rotsey's guitar create a sound akin to standing behind a Boeing 737 upon takeoff.
The sound combines the minimalism of Breathe with the experimentalism of
1983's 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1. Musically it's their best sounding record
since the breakthrough Diesel and Dust.
Midnight Oil is less political and more social commentary- oriented on this
outing, with suburbanism, intolerance, complacency, and capitalism being
the main targets. Enough to make any yuppie cringe, and enough to make
even Yours Truly want to take up a social cause. By the time the record's
closer rolls around, Midnight Oil has you drained, pissed off, and ready to
make a change. Or at least aware that your sheltered world is a fragile glass
house, and people are throwing stones at it.
Despite a couple of speed bumps since Diesel and Dust was released ten years
ago, Midnight Oil proves with Redneck Wonderland that they can still rock with
the best of them, be pissed off with the best of them, and make you think with
the best of them. Their convictions haven't changed after all this time, and the
record is a reminder that they never will and never should. Neil Young simply
makes you want to change the channel. Any questions?
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