Neil's Nephews: Indie-Rock's Brightest Young Acolytes
Neil Young has spawned many children in the indie/folk-rock community, many of whom have directly constructed their style based on the Canadian humanitarian's more acoustic oeurve rather than the ragged-glory feedback cues that goosed grunge gods like Pearl Jam a generation ago.
In the tradition of Rocks Off's "Sons of Springsteen" roll call last fall, here are of a few of Young's relatively recent spiritual offspring, bearded and banded together in search of a pat on the back from their Old Man.
Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes was a result of high school friends Robin Pecknold and Skyler Skjelset's mutual appreciation for Dylan and Young. The quintet just announced their new album, the demonstrably Young-inspired Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop), will be released May 3 after a two-year hiatus, during which lead singer Robin Pecknold toured on his own and released a few folk covers as solo project White Antelope (check out "Silver Dagger" and "Katie Cruel").
Musically, Fleet Foxes is comparable to Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young with their baroque-style four-part harmonies (Skyler doesn't sing). "Blue Ridge Mountains" could be the group's "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes."
J. Tillman: Tillman is the drummer of Fleet Foxes, and has also released numerous solo albums since 2005 including 2009's implicit homage to Young, Vacilando Territory Blues. His allegiance to Neil didn't stop there. When Tillman covered 1973/74's poignant Tonight's the Night - part of Neil's "ditch trilogy" - Tillman was practically crucified by the blog community for trying to replicate such a dark time in Young's career and personal life.
Castanets: Ray Raposa, aka Castanets, is sometimes credited for being one of the proponents of "freak-folk," which briefly rose and fell in the mid-2000s. The Austin musician's most accessible album to date is 2009's Texas Rose, the Thaw, & the Beasts; although filled with a significant amount of reverb, it borders both gospel and Americana.
Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band. Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band's Outer South is reminiscent of Young and Crazy Horse's 1969 barnburner Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. The track "Roosevelt Room" sounds incredibly similar to "Revolution Blues."
Vetiver: The group is part of the "naturalismo" trend, and in 2008 released the folk covers album A Thing of the Past, including Young and Elyse Weinberg's duet "Houses" and songs by Townes Van Zandt, Loudon Wainwright III, and Bobby Charles. Expect to see them at SXSW this year.
A.A. Bondy: 2009's When The Devil's Loose might be the former Verbena front man's On the Beach or even Harvest. It's a great album with even better songwriting; see "Mercy Wheel."
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