Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment


Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

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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.

Concord CRE00791
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****

Elvis Costello’s recording career is remarkable for its variety and consistency. It’s hard to name a single bad album in his discography. Even Goodbye Cruel World (1984), which Costello himself dislikes, has some good moments, and that record is pulled down more by the production than by the songs or performances themselves. Some of his albums of the last ten years, however, have shown an occasional tendency to go for familiar melody lines or chord changes, and it was possible to wonder if he was beginning to lose steam.

British Grove/Blue Note B002920602
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

It’s not unusual for me to buy a new Mark Knopfler album, enjoy it for a few plays, then file it away, thinking, “Another solid album.” I do the same with albums by Van Morrison and James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. But invariably, when I pull any of them off the shelf six months or so later, I find that I enjoy them even more than I remembered. Consistency can make me take certain musicians for granted, only to be reminded, when I play their music again, that their greatness remains undiminished.

Sony Legacy 19075841442
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****1/2

On September 7, 2018, two great 1960s singer-songwriters named Paul released new discs. Paul McCartney’s Egypt Station, his 18th solo recording, was accompanied by a big PR push and the announcement that Sir Paul will tour in support of the album. Paul Simon’s newest disc, In the Blue Light, was preceded by the news that his tour ending in September would be his last.

Because Music/Caroline 0525436048
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

Héloïse Létissier, born in Nantes, France, in 1988, performs as Christine and the Queens and has released two full-length CDs and eight EPs. Her music addresses many of the issues of gender and sexuality that are so much a part of conversations these days. For her new album, Chris, Létissier has adopted a masculine persona, with hair and attire to emphasize it, in an attempt to examine her own freedom to choose a fluid definition of gender, as well as to look at male attitudes toward women, sexuality, and other issues.