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MUSIC DISC & DOWNLOAD REVIEWS

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Mike Mettler Posted: Apr 10, 2014 0 comments
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“Best guitar player I ever heard.” Some hip muso waxing on about the next Hendrix? Nope, that’s Bob Dylan on the late Michael Bloomfield, and the Bard’s ears are some damn fine arbiters. This three-CD/one-DVD Bloomfield box set reclaims a master guitarist’s legacy that’s as deep as the Delta, by way of the Windy City and the City by the Bay. Disc 1, subtitled Roots, sets the tap. The instrumental take on Dylan’s iconic “Like a Rolling Stone” is revelatory, keeping the focus on the as-it’s-happening creation of the now-familiar melody via Bloomfield’s chiming Telecaster riffs intermingling with Al Kooper’s wheedling Hammond B3.
Mike Mettler Posted: Mar 27, 2014 0 comments
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Neil Finn is a restless soul. Though the New Zealand–bred singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist has long mastered the craft of concocting melodic gems—Split Enz’s “I Got You,” Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” his solo single “She Will Have Her Way”—he continues to search for ways to shake up song arrangements and their ensuing sonic character while still managing to keep everything eminently hummable. By teaming up with longtime Flaming Lips sonic alchemist/producer Dave Fridmann to co-turn the knobs for his third solo album, Dizzy Heights, Finn plants a stylistic flag that whips together a heady mixture of stark minimalism and ethereally dramatic effects.
Mike Mettler Posted: Mar 19, 2014 0 comments
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Eric Clapton was at the crossroads of Personal Hell Avenue and Professional Conundrum Street as the calendar turned to 1974. His crippling heroin addiction derailed the creative momentum he achieved with Derek and the Dominos and Layla in 1970, and it took him a few long, painful years to emerge from the haze and return to chasing down his one true muse with guitar (and not needle) in hand. The jam-packed Give Me Strength: The ’74/’75 Recordings box set charts his sonic recovery.
Mike Mettler Posted: Feb 26, 2014 0 comments
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The term supergroup gets a bad rap—but with good reason. Often, it’s applied to a collective of hot-shot all-star musicians who look pretty good together on paper, but the resulting music usually proves the individual parts are actually greater than the sum. Discerning listeners tend to cast a wary eye, er, ear toward such lineup mashups—unless the pedigree is an impeccably progressive one intent on exploring the cosmos of composition to achieve a common sonic goal.
Mike Mettler Posted: Jan 30, 2014 0 comments
Legacy. Some artists embrace it, some resist it. Early-period Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett decided to go the extra mile to dance on the volcano of his past, charging firth, er, forth to majestically recast the arrangements of a top-drawer selection of his ’70s output with the British prog giants.
Mike Mettler Posted: Jan 02, 2014 1 comments
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Finally seeing a stateside release after being available internationally for over a year, Privateering, Mark Knopfler’s seventh solo offering (and first double album of all-original material) is a showcase of Americana, as innately authentic as anything produced by any artist born on U.S. soil. Somewhere, Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash, John Lee Hooker, and Muddy Waters are all picking, grinning, and haw-haw-hawing their collective approval. (Me, I suspect Knopfler was spiritually born on the Mississippi Delta and then transplanted to the moors of his native Scotland.)
Mike Mettler Posted: Jan 02, 2014 0 comments
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Pressure: It can get to anyone. Just ask the four members of the Followill clan, a.k.a. Nashville’s first family of deep-roots rock, Kings of Leon. The three brothers (Caleb, Jared, and Nathan) and one cousin (Matthew) comprising KoL were anointed rock saviors when they burst onto the scene with the guitar-driven Southern-fried primal-blues mash of 2003’s Youth & Young Manhood. And their arena-rocking prowess was cemented with the one-two punch of the yearning “Sex on Fire” and the anthemic “Use Somebody” on 2008’s best-selling Only by the Night.
Mike Mettler Posted: Dec 24, 2013 0 comments
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Besides knocking the psychedelic movement off of its puffy cloud at the end of the ’60s with the seminal roots-based rustic albums Music From Big Pink (1968) and The Band (1969), The Band was also known for being a supernaturally gifted live act, having honed its stagecraft through many arduous but rewarding years on the road. Highlights from a magical four-night stand at New York’s Academy of Music were set in stone—or rather, on wax and disc—with 1972’s Rock of Ages. The album was a critically acclaimed best seller and a triumph in the eyes of everyone it touched. Well, almost everyone.
Mike Mettler Posted: Dec 05, 2013 0 comments
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When I saw Nirvana play Roseland Ballroom in New York City in July 1993, it was three months before the release of In Utero, the band’s explosive follow-up to the game-changing Nevermind. The balls-out, frenzied new songs I heard that night foreshadowed In Utero’s raw power. And this 20th anniversary Super Deluxe Edition not only reconfirms the depth of Kurt Cobain’s tragic genius, it also reminds our collective ear that alternative-rock icons could sound great too, despite the somewhat misleading lo-fi tag hung on the grunge movement.
Mike Mettler Posted: Nov 25, 2013 0 comments
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How do you make a perfect album even more perfect? In the case of Van Morrison’s seminal 1970 neo-rock Caledonian masterpiece Moondance, you compile a 70-track deluxe edition that includes three discs of sessions, outtakes, and alternate mixes, in addition to a separate Blu-ray Audio disc with a long-lost surround sound mix done by one of the album’s original engineers. Yes, as any good Van the Man fan knows, it’s too late to stop now.
Mike Mettler Posted: Nov 21, 2013 0 comments
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Punk. Rock. Reggae. Hip-hop. Ska. Dub. Soul. Jazz. Rockabilly. No, this isn’t a listing of all the sections in one of the only remaining cool record stores left standing; this is the breadth of the genre-bending legacy of The Clash. And the sonic scope of Sound System is set to prove The Clash may very well be The Only Band That (Still) Matters.
Ken Richardson Posted: Oct 29, 2013 0 comments
Also: Humble Pie expanded, Jethro Tull remixed in 5.1, and much more. Plus: the return of Dorothy Wiggin. (She used to be a Shagg.)

Ken Richardson Posted: Oct 22, 2013 0 comments
Also: Van Morrison’s Moondance in 5.1 on Blu-ray, Santana’s third album on audiophile vinyl, and ’80s tunes revamped by The Big Bright. Plus, let’s see…oh, yeah, Katy Perry.

Bob Ankosko Posted: Oct 22, 2013 0 comments
Hands on with Walmart’s Vudu In-Home Disc to Digital Service and Disney’s Digital Copy+

Walmart’s Vudu To Go app (Digital Vudu Revisited), a follow-up to the Disc to Digital service launched last year that lets you unlock digital copies of DVD and Blu-ray movies you buy or purchase digital rights to discs you already own, is now up and running (in beta form as of this writing). Unlike the original service, which required you to bring discs to Walmart (UltraViolet: Building a Movie Library in the Cloud,), the app lets you convert discs from a Mac or Windows-based PC in your home and store them in the cloud so they can be accessed for streaming or downloading on multiple devices.

Ken Richardson Posted: Oct 15, 2013 1 comments
Also reviewed: Pearl Jam. And in revue: many more new releases, as well as classic XTC in 5.1.

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