Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment


Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

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ECM 2614 (B0029695-02)
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****

In the last 30 years guitarist Dominic Miller has played on recordings by an impressive number of musicians, including Chris Botti, Mark Hollis, and Youssou N’Dour, and from Bettye LaVette to the Chieftains. His discography shows how versatile and in demand he is, but his most enduring musical relationship has been with Sting. He’s played on all of Sting’s albums since The Soul Cages (1991), and has toured with him in support of those recordings.

New West NW6367
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Luther Dickinson, lead singer and guitarist of the North Mississippi Allstars, has also released five solo albums and appeared on countless other recordings. Solstice is credited to him and Sisters of the Strawberry Moon, a collective of singers and musicians that includes Amy Helm, Amy LaVere, Shardé Thomas, the Como Mamas, and Birds of Chicago. A few guest musicians help out to create a beautiful album of American music that touches on many genres.

Ear Music 0213592EMU (CD), 0213593EMU (LP)
Format: CD & LP

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

Fool is Joe Jackson’s 21st studio album, and at first it seems somewhat unassuming, with a clever cover image that looks like something an independent artist would use for a self-released disc. Even the way Jackson recorded Fool was modest. His last album, Fast Forward (2015), was recorded in four cities with four different bands. This time, Jackson and his touring band went “Straight into the studio at the end of a tour, still on the road,” he said in a press release. “Wherever we played the last show, we would record.” Wherever turned out to be Boise, Idaho.

Guided by Voices, Inc. GBVi87
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Robert Pollard has such a formidable recorded output, as both a solo artist and as leader of Guided by Voices, that it’s easy to take him for granted. If you’ve drifted away from the band, their last four albums are reason to return. The current lineup is the strongest since the band’s peak in the mid-2000s, and this new album, Zeppelin Over China, is one of their best. The descending riff that opens the first song, “Good Morning Sir,” is familiar -- Pollard’s used it before -- but this band sounds fresh and excited to be playing it.

Merge MRG650
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

Sunshine Rock is Bob Mould’s 13th solo album, and the fourth since 2012 that he’s made with bassist Jason Narducy and drummer Jon Wurster. Mould’s last two releases, Beauty & Ruin (2014) and Patch the Sky (2016), were emotionally powerful albums that documented his reactions to his parents’ deaths. Sunshine Rock is as personal, but it embraces life’s occasional joys as well as its complexities, and the slashing guitars that run through most of it make it exhilarating.

ECM 2589 6775528 (CD)
ECM 2589 (LP)
Format: CD and LP

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Drummer Andrew Cyrille’s first release as a leader for ECM, The Declaration of Musical Independence, was a powerful, challenging quartet session with guitarist Bill Frisell, keyboardist Richard Teitelbaum, and bassist Ben Street. Frisell returns for Cyrille’s newest album, Lebroba, but this time in a trio with trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith. The result is an album of grace and beauty that uses space and time to let the music unfold and expand.

Studio 13 Studio13CD0001
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

It’s been 11 years since the Good, the Bad & the Queen released its eponymous debut, perhaps because every member of the band had other things to do. Frontman Damon Albarn continued his work with Blur and Gorillaz, with help from Simon Tong, who’d been in the Verve but joined Blur in 2002. Bassist Paul Simonon, formerly of the Clash, kept himself busy with music, painting, and environmental activism, and drummer Tony Allen played on a number of albums, including two jazz recordings he led for release on Blue Note Records.

Panta Rei/BMG France 538421712
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Marianne Faithfull was discovered by Andrew Loog Oldham, manager and producer of the Rolling Stones, who helped her achieve chart success with a series of singles in the mid-1960s. She was the first singer to record the Jagger-Richards song “As Tears Go By,” in 1964, and was a big part of the history of the early Stones and of the ’60s overall. Faithfull became romantically involved with Mick Jagger, and it’s hard to know if her later slide into addiction and anorexia stemmed from her association with the band or her with own bad decisions -- perhaps both.

Dirty Hit/Interscope B0029121-02
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

In the nearly three years since The 1975’s last release, I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It, Matt Healy, the band’s rhythm guitarist and lead singer, entered rehab to deal with a drug problem, while the rest of the band continued to write and record the music that has resulted in its third and newest album, A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships. Healy’s experience seems to have affected the lyrics of these songs, but musically The 1975 continue to play with their combination of synth pop, alt-rock, and whatever other genre they take a fancy to.

Smalltown Supersound STS343CD
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Neneh Cherry had a hit in 1989 with “Buffalo Stance,” a track from her first album, Raw Like Sushi, but since then her career has been eclectic and experimental. In addition to her solo recordings she’s been a member of the trip-hop band cirKus, and has worked with the Swedish jazz trio The Thing as well as the post-punk band The Slits. Her last album, Blank Project (2014), was bracing and complex, the kind of work that demands close attention and yields deep rewards.