Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment


Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

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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.

Adventure Music AM1115 2
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Mandolin master Mike Marshall has been recording for more than 30 years on labels large and small. For the last 12 years he’s recorded for Adventure Music, a label he founded with the late Richard Zirinsky. Marshall has played or collaborated with many musicians, including fiddle player Mark O’Connor, guitarist Jerry Douglas, banjoist Béla Fleck, and the Turtle Island Quartet. In 2010, he and classical mandolinist Caterina Lichtenberg recorded their first collaboration, Caterina Lichtenberg & Mike Marshall, and in 2015 they returned with a disc of arrangements of works by J.S. Bach. For Third Journey, the two selected a program of classical, traditional, and modern compositions, each work showing off their virtuosity without being a mere showpiece.

Atlantic 572449-2
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

Thank You for Today is Death Cab for Cutie’s ninth studio album, and the first without guitarist Chris Walla, who had announced his departure during the recording of the band’s last album, Kintsugi (2015), to which he contributed guitar, keyboards, and vocals. But even then, for the first time in Death Cab’s recording career, Walla wasn’t in the producer’s chair. Rich Costey produced Kintsugi, and now this new one as well.

ECM 2608 (6025 675 16187)
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

The Norwegian jazz pianist Tord Gustavsen has released eight recordings on ECM since 2003, the first three of which were trio sessions. The most recent, The Other Side, returns him to the piano-trio format after leading two quartet albums, and two ensembles featuring singers. Drummer Jarle Vespestad has played on all of Gustavsen’s recordings, but this is bassist Sigurd Hole’s first appearance on record with the pianist. Hole’s interest in Norway’s folk music as an inspiration for jazz is something he shares with Gustavsen, and makes him a good choice for this trio.

Sony Legacy 19075841402
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Gary Louris, the guitarist, singer, and leader of the Jayhawks, has collaborated over the years with other songwriters on songs recorded by them or other artists. Nine of the 11 songs on the group’s new album, Back Roads and Abandoned Motels, fall into that category, yet the result is more stylistically consistent than the band’s last album, Paging Mr. Proust (2016), for which Louris wrote most of the songs himself. Proust took the Jayhawks into new territory while reinforcing their strengths. But if on first hearing Back Roads seems less exciting, it soon becomes clear that this album further confirms Louris’s compositional talents even as a co-writer, and that the Jayhawks remain the best band for his work.

Blue Note B002843502
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****1/2

Sound Quality
****1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****1/2

At age 80, tenor saxophonist Charles Lloyd is going strong. He’s done an album almost every year since 1989, and is still challenging himself and his listeners. In 2016 he released I Long to See You, featuring guitarists Bill Frisell and Greg Leisz, who introduced elements of folk and country into Lloyd’s jazz. That group, which also included Lloyd’s regular bassist and drummer, Reuben Rogers and Eric Harland, was named Charles Lloyd & the Marvels, and returns in Vanished Gardens.

Parlophone 0190295730260/CDBB 7782
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****

Welcome to the Blackout (Live London ’78) is a two-disc live set from David Bowie’s Isolar II: The 1978 World Tour, which drew heavily from two albums Bowie released in 1977, Low and “Heroes”. Those recordings were part of what Bowie would later call the Berlin Trilogy, which concluded with Lodger (1979). The three albums were another shift in direction in an ever-changing career.