MUSIC DISC & DOWNLOAD REVIEWS

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Mike Mettler  |  Nov 29, 2017  |  2 comments
Performance
Sound
I hate to admit it, but I didn’t “get” Marillion when I saw them open for Rush at the Rosemont Horizon just outside of Chicago on March 21, 1986, playing their 1985 breakthrough album Misplaced Childhood in its entirety. While I was properly enamored with the uplifting performance of their touchingly seductive FM hit “Kayleigh,” I just wasn’t able to connect with the rest of the set for some reason. Apparently, I wasn’t alone in that feeling, since I also heard a good bit of the crowd boo/catcall Marillion throughout their performance, the first time I had heard such a thing occur at a live show.
Mike Mettler  |  Oct 04, 2017  |  0 comments
Performance
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Extras
These days, when it comes to surround sound mixing, most in-the-know producers and musicians’ respective collective first thought inevitably turns to the maxim, What would Steven Wilson do? Indeed, the man also known as the once and future king of hi-res and 5.1 production has long staked his claim as the No. 1 go-to guy for any artist interested in obtaining a top-shelf mix that takes full advantage of the vaunted six-channel, 96-kilohertz/24-bit (and sometimes higher!) audio spectrum offered via DVD and/or Blu-ray. (And yes, a hi-res download option is on the master main menu as well.)
Mike Mettler  |  Aug 23, 2017  |  0 comments
Performance
Sound
It was one of the most galvanizing live experiences of my life. The instant WNEW-FM announced Midnight Oil would be performing live on a flatbed truck on Sixth Avenue in the heart of New York City in front of the Exxon Building around noontime on May 30, 1990 to protest the mishandling of the March 1989 Exxon Valdez oil-spill disaster in Prince William Sound, Alaska, three colleagues and I sprinted the entire length of the two long city blocks from the Stereo Review and Audio offices at 50th and Broadway to get as close as we could. Success! Each of us wound up standing no more than 10 people deep from the flatbed’s perch upon our out-of-breath Sixth Avenue arrival.
Mike Mettler  |  Aug 09, 2017  |  0 comments
Performance
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Let there be Kraut! So goes the Kampfschrei, or battle cry associated with the Krautrock movement of the 1970s. If you’re unfamiliar with this relatively experimental musical form, it probably won’t surprise you to learn Krautrock’s origins are rooted in, of course, Germany. Rather than follow the more blues-based framework that served as the springboard for much of the rock that came out of the U.K. and U.S. during that era, the progenitors of Krautrock sought to build their music more on the avant-garde and progressive fringes, laying down a free-form template for the post-punk, improv jazz, electronic, ambient, and even New Age tuneage that would follow. Incidentally, the scene also has been referred to as kosmische Musik, or cosmic music—and rightly so, since its practitioners often seemed to shoot for the stars.
Mike Mettler  |  Jul 12, 2017  |  0 comments
Performance
Sound
“Outside, it’s America.” That’s U2 vocalist Bono, setting the stage for the explosive climax of “Bullet the Blue Sky,” one of the pivotal tracks on the band’s 1987 masterpiece, The Joshua Tree. As Bono purposefully charges his way through the denouement of the narrative, ace guitarist The Edge literally dive-bombs the aural equivalent of the lyrical floodlights—let’s call them “flood-licks”—through a series of unrelenting scorched-earth riffs while the track careens to its final U.S. caress.
Josef Krebs  |  Jun 23, 2017  |  0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
The heart of I’m Your Man is a celebratory concert of the recently passed Leonard Cohen’s songs performed by an oddball assortment of top talent at the Sydney Opera House. Between each number come interviews with performers telling of the inevitable life-changing moment of hearing Cohen for the first time. In addition, the poet/singer-songwriter/Jewish Zen Buddhist monk himself delivers anecdotes on personal history, his long, arduous working process, and meaning behind certain ballads illustrated and illuminated by archive poetry recitations, artwork, and photos and footage from childhood and career.
Mike Mettler  |  Jun 07, 2017  |  0 comments
Performance
Sound
Paul McCartney was on quite the rollercoaster ride as an artist in the 1980s. He started the decade strong with the mostly one-man effort McCartney II and its on-the-mark hits like the pure pop perfection of “Coming Up” and the still influential electronica of “Temporary Secretary.” (I can also confirm firsthand that the latter track has been an early-set highlight of Sir Paul’s recent 2015-16 Out There! and One on One tour outings.)
Mike Mettler  |  Mar 29, 2017  |  0 comments
Performance
Sound
“Isn’t that amazing? I mean, there it actually is. I can’t believe it. I lived long enough to hear it right.” That’s Lou Reed, lifelong audiophile, commenting to his longtime friend and producer Hal Willner while listening to the in-studio playback of the remastered version of “I Wanna Be Black,” from his landmark 1978 album, Street Hassle.
Mike Mettler  |  Mar 17, 2017  |  1 comments
Performance
Sound
If The Band didn’t slow down and get off the road—and get off the road soon—they were going to wind up killing themselves, to a man. “It’s a goddamn impossible way of life,” says Band leader/guitarist/chief songwriter Robbie Robertson of being stuck on the wheel of a crushing, never-ending tour cycle. That urgent “stop the road, I want to get off” mentality was one of the main driving forces behind The Band masterminding a farewell concert for the ages at the Winterland Arena in San Francisco during Thanksgiving 1976, dubbed from the get-go-then-get-gone as The Last Waltz.
Mike Mettler  |  Feb 10, 2017  |  1 comments
Performance
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The Seattle music scene was devastated. Andrew Wood, the promising and charismatic frontman of Mother Love Bone, was found dead of a heroin overdose in March 1990. His bandmates and close friends were in despair, and the one catharsis they found to deal with their pain in the ensuing year was in making new music together. As a result, out of the wake of Wood’s passing was born a 1991 Seattle supercollective dubbed Temple of the Dog, who became best known for their massive grunge-era alt-rock MTV hit, “Hunger Strike.”
Mike Mettler  |  Dec 14, 2016  |  1 comments
Welcome back, my friends… well, you know the rest. That opening line—made famous in “Karn Evil 9 – 1st Impression, Part 2” from 1973’s Brain Salad Surgery—certainly applies to the re-emergence of the remastered catalog for Emerson, Lake & Palmer, the groundbreaking British progressive trio that defined adventurous recording and outrageous live performance during their 1970s heyday. Actually, ELP vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Greg Lake prefers using the word original instead of progressive to describe the band’s signature sound—and the man does have a point.
Mike Mettler  |  Oct 26, 2016  |  0 comments
Performance
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There are supergroups, and then there are The Traveling Wilburys. The wink/nudge humor behind the band name and the multiple nicknames of its five members is all George Harrison, the late Monty Python–loving Beatle, who put together a cream-of-the-crop collective for a pair of fabulously harmonious albums, 1988’s Vol. 1 and 1990’s Vol. 3. Harrison coined the word “Wilbury” in reference to in-studio recording gaffes attributed to faulty equipment, of which he told producer Jeff Lynne: “We’ll bury ’em in the mix.”
Mike Mettler  |  Sep 28, 2016  |  1 comments
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These days, even the most seasoned recording artists find it difficult to gain traction with their new material. Case in point: U2, whose deeply personal 2014 release Songs of Innocence fell by the wayside with the listening public, likely due in large part to the instant backlash the band faced when the album suddenly appeared as an automatic download in everyone’s personal iTunes library without warning that September. Much collective online hand-wringing occurred until Apple acquiesced and shared instructions for how people could permanently remove the “offending” files. (Why getting any type of new music legitimately for free was such a problem for consumers used to downloading songs without paying for them continues to mystify me, but that’s another story for another time.)
Mike Mettler  |  Aug 08, 2016  |  0 comments
Performance
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For certain musicians, creativity is sometimes fueled by a deep desire to impress their peers. That was certainly the case with Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys and Paul McCartney of The Beatles, two members of an exclusive cross-continent mutual-admiration society who made adventurous music for the masses with an additional “can you top this” flair.
Mike Mettler  |  Jun 15, 2016  |  3 comments
Performance
Sound
Phil Collins required rehabilitation, and stat. Not only did the noted drummer/vocalist have to deal with a bout of sudden deafness, a lingering hand injury, and recover from back surgery, he also needed to tend to the state of his image. No one could fault the man’s acuity behind the drum kit—a reputation initially forged by his creative deployment of odd time signatures with progressive rock giants Genesis and the fusion improv collective Brand X—but his level of ubiquity on the charts as a solo artist in the ’80s and beyond ultimately served to tip his musical-reputation scales in a not-so-favorable direction.

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