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Mike Mettler Posted: Oct 10, 2010 0 comments

Wayne Coyne is curious.

Now, you can take that statement to mean a couple of different things: 1) the leader of veteran alternative stalwarts the Flaming Lips has an insatiable thirst for discovering ways to push the audio/video envelope, or 2) the man is a bit, well, odd. Know what? It's probably a combination of both.

Mike Mettler Posted: May 21, 2014 0 comments
When it comes to delivering the low end, Jack Bruce has been the cream of the crop for six decades and counting. His syncopated approach to playing bass helped shift pop music’s bottom-end emphasis away from just laying down root notes and fifths, in turn opening the door to a more adventurous yet melodically inclined style that laid the foundation for the rock explosion of the ’60s. Turns in both Manfred Mann and John Mayall’s band set the table for Bruce to connect with Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker and forge Cream, wherein the super Scotsman set the heavy-blues power-trio standard with epic runs and full-band interplay in songs like “I Feel Free,” “Spoonful,” “Politician,” and “Sunshine of Your Love.”
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Mike Mettler Posted: Sep 25, 2015 1 comments
Good things come to those who wait, as the saying goes. But when it comes to finally getting producer/engineer James Guthrie’s long-awaited 96kHz/24-bit mix of Roger Waters’ 1992 solo album Amused to Death in 5.1 on Blu-ray in hand, well… the word “good” isn’t quite good enough. “Great” is certainly a step up, but I’m going to have to go with a superlative along the lines of “stellar,” “outstanding,” and/or “stunning,” for Guthrie’s surround-sound treatment of Amused catapults an oft-overlooked entry in Waters’ storied canon of work into a new sonic stratosphere. Recently, Guthrie and I spent a fair amount of time going over his goals for bringing Amused into the surround universe and sharing his favorite moments from The Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here in 5.1, plus he reveals exclusively what Floyd-related project he’ll next tackle in 5.1. It’s a miracle — another miracle.
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Mike Mettler Posted: May 28, 2015 0 comments
For musicians of a certain era, it was either The Beatles, Elvis, or the blues that inspired them to start making their own music. For singer/songwriter Joan Armatrading, all it took was the furniture in her house. “This is what I was born to do,” says Armatrading, who’s originally from Antigua. “My mother bought a piano and put it in the front room. She didn’t buy it because she thought somebody was going to play it; she bought it because it was a great piece of furniture. Literally on the day it arrived, I started writing songs.” To get a further, purer taste of her songwriting prowess, it’s worth checking out the two-disc Love and Affection: Joan Armatrading Classics (1975-1983) collection, mastered in 96/24 by Erick Labson, which showcases a key segment of her decade-plus run on A&M Records. The lost-in-scat-and-strings vibe of “Love and Affection,” the raw-nerve toucher “Down to Zero” (complete with wafty-cool pedal-steel support), and the ’80s-fueled fury of “(I Love It When You) Call Me Names” are all prime evidence that Armatrading has always been at the forefront of matching a songwriter’s emotional intent with a particular sound-quality standard, without compromise. During a recent tour stop in Chicago, I called Armatrading, 60, to discuss the nuances of her live show, her in-studio sound-quality inclinations, and her initial music-making inspirations. Everybody gotta know this feeling inside.
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Mike Mettler Posted: Jul 05, 2006 0 comments

Are we close to the point of seeing CDs disappear entirely? Could that happen? Hey, listen: Vinyl's almost disappeared. 78's disappeared. I'm not a soothsayer, and I can't really say if people are going to give up on the physical side of intellectual property.

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Mike Mettler Posted: Jun 04, 2008 0 comments

Tell me about Guitar Hero: Aerosmith (RedOctane/Activision). What a coup to be the first band to have the entire game dedicated to the arc of your career.When I saw my son Roman playing Guitar Hero a few years ago, I was blown away.

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Mike Mettler Posted: Jul 09, 2014 0 comments
“We don’t want to shut the door, we want to open it.” John Hiatt has just described the up-close and personal vibe that’s spread all across his new album Terms of My Surrender, out July 15 on New West. Surrender was cut live with Hiatt and his bandmates ensconced around each other in Studio G in Nashville, and the intimacy is intrinsic to every note. Stomps, claps, and a taut kick drum set the tone at the outset of “Long Time Comin’,” as Hiatt murmurs, “Mmm-hmm, let me see” before he begins strumming his acoustic guitar to lock into the groove. And the über-deep, practically resigned breath he takes before diving into the starkly personal “Nothin’ I Love” just adds to Surrender‘s core honesty. Hiatt, 61, and I recently got down to jawing about knowing when a final master sounds right, how he consistently fails at properly sequencing his records, and trying to convince his dad that stereo was a cool thing. Says the masterful singer/songwriter about Surrender, “The goal was to make it feel like we were all together on the back porch.” Pull up a chair and join the unbroken circle.
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Mike Mettler Posted: Oct 28, 2015 2 comments
Standards: Somebody has to set them. And when it came to creating the 20th-century template for how to properly sing popular music, one need look no further than Johnny Mathis, the romantic, soulful tenor whose range and control remain just as vibrant today as when he began taking lessons in the San Francisco area in the 1950s from opera singer and vocal teacher Connie Cox. And now, seven decades (!) into such a storied career, it only seems fitting that a four-disc collection called The Singles (Columbia/Legacy) brings together 87 of his best-loved songs, including such timeless, indelible classics like “Chances Are,” “It’s Not for Me to Say,” and “The Twelfth of Never” alongside rare but chart-busting gems like “Wonderful! Wonderful!” And it’s certainly no accident that the following phrase appears in the upper-right-hand corner of the cover, right underneath the gleaming old-school/vintage Columbia logo: “Guaranteed High-Fidelity.” Mathis, still quite spry at 80, called me from his residence in Los Angeles to discuss harnessing his influences to create his original vocal style, his singular microphone techniques, and the songs he still loves to sing. Chances are, you already know many of them by heart.
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Mike Mettler Posted: Nov 11, 2015 0 comments
Creative sparks don't always fly when veteran musicians get together to collaborate. But that's exactly what happened when two progressive titans, vocalist Jon Anderson and violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, came together to form the Anderson Ponty Band, a.k.a. APB. Their oh-so-apropos debut, Better Late Than Never (Liaison Music), mixes fine, edgy originals with rearranged and revamped covers of classic material like Yes's "Roundabout" and Ponty's "Mirage" — renamed here as "Infinite Mirage," as it now features Anderson singing new lyrics he wrote just for the song. “We work together like family,” marvels Ponty, 73. Agrees Anderson, “We’re musical brothers, you know?” I called Anderson, 71, during an APB tour stop to discuss working with Jean-Luc, our ongoing mutual love of surround sound, and the ever-escalating legacy of Yes.
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Mike Mettler Posted: Mar 12, 2015 1 comments
To modify a phrase, fingerpicking guitar maestro Jorma Kaukonen just keeps on innovatin’. For over a half-century, Kaukonen has followed his own path and applied his folk roots to variations on psychedelia with Jefferson Airplane and free-form blues with Hot Tuna, not to mention his own solo rock and unplugged outings. On his acoustic-driven new disc, Ain’t In No Hurry (Red House), Kaukonen continues to push forward on tasty, intense tracks like the hopeful timelessness of “In My Dreams,” the traditional riches-to-rags lament of “Brother Can You Spare a Dime,” and the down-home grit of “The Terrible Operation.” Observes Kaukonen, “One of the cool things about the way the album is mixed is that there’s this magnificent, transparent presence of all the instruments, no matter who’s playing and where they are. You can hear them all; they’re there.” Kaukonen, 74, and I got on the phone recently to discuss his recording techniques, his mastery of Drop D tuning on an iconic song, and the hi-fi gear that’s served to enhance listening experiences all throughout his life. The man may not be in a hurry, but he sure is getting somewhere.


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