Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment


Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Lifehouse AlmeriaGeffen B 001778502
Format: CD

Musical Performance ***1/2
Sound Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

 

Lifehouse’s breakout album, No Name Face, was released in 2000, when I was in 10th grade. I loved it. Their hit “Hanging By a Moment” was only the third song in history to have been named “No.1 Song of the Year” on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, despite never having actually reached No.1 in the magazine’s charts. I have no recollection of Lifehouse after No Name Face, primarily because I never bought any of their subsequent four albums. But with the release of Almería, I endeavored to reassociate myself with this Los Angeles-based rock band to see how they’d fared in the 12 years since.

Dulce et Decorum EstMichael J. Media
Format: CD

Musical Performance ***1/2
Sound Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ***1/2

 

Five Minneapolis musicians comprise the band War Poets, but Rex Haberman, a longtime songwriter with three discs to his credit, is at the center of the band’s debut album. Haberman wrote or cowrote all 17 songs on Dulce et Decorum Est. Even a casual listen, however, reveals how important collaboration was to this two-disc set. Matt Kirkwold and Jenny Case helped with some of the songwriting, and played, respectively, guitar and bass. Coproducers Kevin Bowe and Stephen McKnight also share a couple of bylines with Haberman, and play guitar.

Luka BloomCompass CPS4586
Format: CD

Musical Performance ****
Sound Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

 

Luka Bloom was born Kevin Barry Moore in Newbridge, County Kildare, Ireland, in 1955, and took his stage name after moving to the US in 1987. "Luka" was supposedly chosen for Suzanne Vega’s song of that title, while "Bloom" stems from the main character of James Joyce’s magnum opus, Ulysses. The folksy singer-songwriter has but a hint of his native accent in This New Morning, and it is an easy record in which to become immersed.

Live in HollywoodConcord Picante CPI-341110ADV
Format: CD

Musical Performance ****
Sound Quality ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment ****

 

Bandleader and conguero Poncho Sanchez signed with Concord Picante in 1982, after his boss at the time, vibraphonist Cal Tjader, recommended Sanchez to the label’s president. He has remained with Concord for 30 years, and Live in Hollywood is his 26th release for them. Sanchez had several chances to jump ship, but he’s stayed put, and this recording is his gift to Concord, his testament to his loyalty and theirs. Sanchez and his eight-piece band performed the music on this disc at the Hollywood & Highland Summer Concert Series, in July of this year, in front of an enthusiastic crowd.

Dr. Chesky's . . .Chesky Records JD355
Format: CD

Musical Performance ***1/2
Sound Quality ****1/2
Overall Enjoyment ****

 

The name Chesky should be familiar to audiophiles. Not only is David Chesky an accomplished musician and Grammy-nominated composer, he is also a record producer, and the cofounder of Chesky Records and the online high-resolution music store HDtracks.com.

Father's ChildrenVocalion CDSML 8488
Format: CD

Musical Performance ***1/2
Sound Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

 

British fans of soul music are determinedly devoted to music that American record labels often let go out of print, and dogged in their rediscoveries of obscure musicians whom even Americans didn't support the first time around. And subgenres of British soul fandom abound. The rare groove scene began in the early 1980s with British DJ Norman Jay, and soon spread to the US. Soul fans in both countries championed and searched for records by little-known '70s funk bands that got chewed up in the major-label grinder. The operative word is rare -- the more obscure the band or singer, the better.

CoexistXL/Young Turks YT 080CD
Format: CD

Musical Performance ****
Sound Quality ****1/2
Overall Enjoyment ****

 

Preferring to download singles in lieu of full albums, the digital generation’s greatest shortcoming may be its lack of patience, a characteristic born of the instantaneous gratification afforded by broadband Internet. This has led to a great deal of popular modern music being terrible: abject garbage that relies on a tried-and-true formula of Pro Tools software, a particular BPM tool, and a catchy harmony. And the word lyrics hardly seems an appropriate description for much of the verbal drivel that blasts from pop and hip-hop radio stations.

Look Out Now!Racecarlotta RACE 003
Format: CD

Musical Performance ***1/2
Sound Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

 

Steve Gadd’s formidable chops and unerring sense of time have made him a first-call session drummer since the 1970s. For his new band, the Gaddabouts, he enlisted the services of three other musicians with impressive credentials. Andy Fairweather Low has played with Eric Clapton and Roger Waters, among others, and Pino Palladino, who also toured with Clapton (as did Gadd), was Pete Townshend and Roger Daltry’s first choice for the Who’s bass spot when John Entwistle died.

Easy Star All-StarsEasy Star ES-1034
Format: CD

Musical Performance ****
Sound Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

 

For nearly a decade, the Easy Star All-Stars have been carving a creative niche for themselves, revisioning classic albums by Pink Floyd, Radiohead, and the Beatles into dubbed-out tributes redone with reggae flair. Taking on the daunting task of paying proper respect to some of the greatest albums of all time, the group’s past work includes Dub Side of the Moon (2003), Radiodread (2006), and Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band (2009). With their latest effort, Easy Star’s Thrillah, the group tackles the best-selling album of all time: Michael Jackson’s masterpiece, Thriller.

The Mothership ReturnsEagle ER202572
Format: CD, DVD

Musical Performance ****1/2
Sound Quality ***1/2
Picture Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

 

Return to Forever, the jazz-rock fusion group Chick Corea established in 1972, has been through several personnel changes over the last 40 years, but its most popular lineup featured Corea on various keyboards, Al Di Meola on guitar, Stanley Clarke on bass, and Lenny White on drums. That group folded in 1976, but reunited in 2008 for a tour and a live two-CD set, Returns. In 2011, Corea, Clarke, and White formed what they’re calling Return to Forever IV, with guitarist Frank Gambale and the venerable French jazz violinist Jean-Luc Ponty. The Mothership Returns is a three-disc set (two CDs, one DVD) culled from the group’s 2011 tour.