Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment


Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

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Eagle ER416592
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

Procol Harum has been around intermittently since 1967 -- they broke up in 1977, and reformed in 1991. For their first decade, the band released a new LP every year or two, but since getting back together they’ve taken much longer between releases. Novum is Procol Harum’s third studio album since 1991, following a gap of 14 years since the last one, The Well’s on Fire. Gary Brooker is the only original member left.

Sony Legacy 88875102362
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

It’s hard to think of a songwriter from the great British bands of the 1960s who is more British in his themes and music than Ray Davies. Two of his masterpieces with the Kinks, The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society (1968) and Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) (1969), look at various aspects of English life and the ways they changed in the 20th century as the Empire declined.

SuperEgo SE041
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Aimee Mann has been making challenging music for more than 30 years -- first with ’Til Tuesday, a band that refused to be boxed in, and then, beginning in 1993, in her solo recordings. Her songs are notable for their smart, observant lyrics and strong melodies, so it’s a little surprising that she’s still more a critic’s darling than a big seller. Since 2000, Mann has released all of her albums on her own label, SuperEgo Records, a fact that probably lets her follow her music wherever it leads her.

Columbia 88985 41350 1
Format: 3 LPs

Musical Performance
****1/2

Sound Quality
*****

Overall Enjoyment
*****

In 1965, a reporter at a news conference asked Bob Dylan if he thought of himself as primarily a singer or a poet. “Oh, I think of myself more as a song-and-dance man,” Dylan responded. While his answer was typically Dylanesque -- slyly humorous, a little mysterious -- the most recent Nobel Laureate in literature has spent the last three years moving closer to that description of himself.

Transmit Sound/Thirty Tigers TS-2016-2
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****1/2

“I’ve always wanted to do a recording that focused more on the blues,” Son Volt’s Jay Farrar told Relix about his band’s new album, Notes of Blue. Farrar names other inspirations for the album, including Nick Drake and Jackson C. Frank, but his own songwriting voice is so strong, and he’s so thoroughly absorbed and digested his influences, that Notes of Blue stands on its own. Son Volt’s last album, Honky Tonk (2013), was built around acoustic guitars and real country music. This time around, Farrar mixes things up while remaining true to his roots in blues, country, and rock’n’roll.

Carpark CAK115
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
***

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

Cloud Nothings is a young, guitar-based indie-rock band -- a category that includes Japandroids, Beach Slang, and Titus Andronicus, among others. Dylan Baldi, the band’s leader and lead singer, while studying at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio, on weekends began recording his songs in his parents’ basement in nearby Westlake. He played all the instruments on Turning On, the Cloud Nothings’ debut, a tuneful, lo-fi album in the manner of fellow Ohioans Guided by Voices.

Deutsche Grammophon 002618702
Format: 16-bit/44.1kHz FLAC Tidal stream

Musical Performance
****1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

German-born British composer Max Richter has built his reputation on creating introspective, often melancholy music whose alluring, repetitive themes lodge themselves deep in the subconscious. The danger of such success is that it tends to encourage repetition, but fortunately, Richter’s has not bred complacency. The last five years have seen him “recompose” Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, as well as compose Sleep, which he describes as an “eight-hour-long lullaby” and which broke several BBC broadcasting records; and now comes his music for British choreographer Wayne McGregor’s triptych of ballets based on novels by Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), released as Three Worlds: Music from Woolf Works and performed by various soloists, with Robert Ziegler conducting the German Film Orchestra of Babelsberg.

Anti- 87455-2
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Brian King and David Prowse met in 2000, at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, and soon found they had similar tastes in music. They attended shows together, and in 2006 formed a band -- by which time Prowse had moved to Vancouver, having transferred to Simon Fraser University. King was the guitarist and primary singer, Prowse the drummer. They settled on a name, Japandroids, which combined ideas from both of them: Prowse liked Japanese Scream; King came up with Pleasure Droids.

Warner Bros. 557761-2
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****1/2

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****

It’s hard to think of a band as innovative, experimental, and willfully strange as the Flaming Lips. Even their mainstream successes, which include The Soft Bulletin (1999) and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002), are sonically and thematically unusual. Nor are the Lips afraid to shift their approach from album to album. Embryonic (2009) sounded harsher and even more sonically dense than its predecessor At War with the Mystics (2006), and The Terror (2013) seemed to move even more toward scratchy guitars and dissonance.

Redwing RWR023
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****1/2

Bonnie Raitt has been making records since 1971, and a few have been commercial successes. Sweet Forgiveness (1977) and Nick of Time (1989) had hit singles that led to brisk album sales, and while her career has had lulls, she always bounces back. She has a good ear for songs that fit her, and her slide guitar playing is immediately recognizable. As with many well-established musicians of her generation, she takes time between albums, and they’re often worth the wait.