Something truly wild and crazy has come to the Internet, at least if you’re a serious Neil Young fan. The legendary singer-songwriter has, after years of development, unleashed the Neil Young Archives, a sprawling website and streaming platform featuring everything Young has recorded as a soloist and bandleader, as well as with Buffalo Springfield and Crosby Stills Nash and Young, and listings regarding Young-related films and books. Unreleased Young albums and recordings such as Chrome Dreams, Homegrown, and Freedom Live are listed but not yet available to stream, as Pitchfork notes.
The kitschy interface of the site is designed to look like a combination of an old stereo and a filing cabinet; the net result is reminiscent of a late-’90s Carmen Sandiego computer game. That being said, the site, under ideal conditions, will allow you to systematically work your way through Young’s entire recorded catalogue, in high quality audio provided by Young’s own Xstream streaming plugin. (Should the higher quality audio be too much to handle, there’s a toggle switch at the top of the page to get it down to 320kbs).
Parts of the site are very confusing (the practical use of the filing cabinet section, mostly), but that seems to be in the interest of promoting spontaneous discovery. If you’re confused, there’s a video tutorial by Young available on the home page, as well as a written explanation of the purpose and methodology of the Archives. A good way to start: go to the “Timeline” section and scroll through the 50-year-plus run of Young’s career, and click around the albums linked there. Fans can also look forward to updates from Young in the “NYA News” section of the site. Again, this is all free if you give an email address.
Neil Young’s new album with Promise of the Real, The Visitor, is also out today. Check out some screenshots from the Archives, and Young’s video tutorial, below.