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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.
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Mike Mettler Posted: Dec 18, 2013 0 comments
“That’s the cartridge you want — the one that’ll get you kicked out of the house!” And that’s Derek Trucks, empathizing over the price of high-end audiophile gear, both in terms of how it affects your wallet and your personal life. “I’ve had that conversation too,” he adds with a chuckle. The good-natured Trucks — seen at the center of the above photo, with his arms folded — drenched his sweet-toned slide-guitar stamp all over one of 2013’s best albums, the Tedeschi Trucks Band’s Made Up Mind (Masterworks; you can read my 4 1/2-star review of it in the Discs & Downloads section.) Here, Trucks, 34, and I commune over his favorite gear and LPs, how good Mind sounds on vinyl, and its thematic album-closing parallel. (Hint: “Darling, won’t you ease my worried mind” is a line from said album's title track.)

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.
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Mike Mettler Posted: Dec 04, 2013 0 comments
“Pretty much everything that goes into the music is as analog as I can make it,” says Tom Scholz, chief sonic architect of the longtime rock powerhouse known as Boston. It’s taken him 10 years to deliver the band’s sixth studio album, Life, Love & Hope (Frontiers) — “But who’s counting?” he chuckles — and discerning audiophiles know it’s well worth the wait. Signature stacked harmonies, lovingly layered guitars, emotionally uplifting vocals, sheaves of killer riffs — what’s not to like? (And, yes, Virginia, there will be vinyl.) “All I can say is the tone, the sound, and the way it’s all put together is the way I like it,” Scholz admits. “And I’m just lucky there are other people who like the same things I do.”
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.
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Mike Mettler Posted: Nov 13, 2013 1 comments
“You always think your voice will never end, of course,” observes Jon Anderson, the unmistakable alto tenor fronting indelible Yes classics like “Roundabout,” “And You And I,” “Going for the One,” and “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” to name but a scant few of their progressive gems. About 5 years ago, Anderson’s golden voice was threatened with a health scare, but after a necessary recovery period, his singing voice is back, and stronger than ever.
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Mike Mettler Posted: Nov 08, 2013 0 comments
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Could there be a better-named band to push the boundaries of creating original music for surround playback than Dream Theater? The ever-adventurous post-prog-metal collective previously experimented with 5.1 via Paul Northfield’s valiant multichannel spin on 2007’s frenzied Systematic Chaos, but Richard Chycki’s all-in full-bore mix of the band’s new, sprawling self-titled epic is in another stratosphere of total envelopment.
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Mike Mettler Posted: Oct 23, 2013 0 comments
How low can you go? If you’re Tony Levin, vaunted bassist and Chapman Stick pluckmaster known for adventurous, innovative low-end work with heavy hitters like Peter Gabriel and King Crimson, it’s also a question of how far. Even with such a storied pedigree, Levin, 67, has always been one to constantly seek new challenges, and he’s met that creative hunger head on with his current collaboration, Levin Minnemann Rudess, a progressive trio that also consists of drummer Marco Minnemann (Steven Wilson, UKZ) and keyboardist extraordinaire Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater, Liquid Tension Experiment).
Mike Mettler Posted: Oct 09, 2013 0 comments
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The potent combo of married co-bandleaders guitarist/vocalist Susan Tedeschi and slide-guitar maestro Derek Trucks and nine (or so) of their closest friends hits its stride on group album number three, Made Up Mind. Mind shows how TTB has finally forged the right blend of improv interplay prowess and gutbucket roots rock.

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