• SoundStage! Shorts -- Anthem's STR Integrated Amplifier (May 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Paradigm's Perforated Phase Alignment (PPA) Lenses (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Paradigm's Persona 9H Loudspeaker (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Contrasts: Dynaudio's Contour and Focus XD Speaker Lines (February 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - New Technologies in MartinLogan's Masterpiece Series
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Dynaudio/Volkswagen Car Audio (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Gryphon Philosophy and the Kodo and Mojo S Speakers (January 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- What's a Tonmeister? (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - AxiomAir N3 Wireless Speaker System (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 90 (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Gryphon Diablo 120 Integrated Amplifier (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Dynaudio History and Driver Technology (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - The Story How Gryphon Began (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Devialet History, ADH Technology, and Expert 1000 Pro (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Devialet's Phantom Loudspeakers (August 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh Home Theater and Streaming Audio (July 2016)

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.

MPS 0210986MSW
Format: LP

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****

Jamaican-born jazz pianist Monty Alexander began playing in Kingston clubs and recording with local bands, including Clue J & His Blues Blasters, in 1958, when he was 14. Three years later his family moved to the US, and Alexander headed to New York City, where he soon found work in jazz clubs, including Minton’s, and eventually met and befriended a number of great jazz musicians. One of them, Oscar Peterson, introduced him to Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer, who owned the German record label MPS.

Tompkins Square TSQ 5296
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****

Chicago-based guitarist Harvey Mandel’s first appearance on record was in 1966, on Stand Back! Here Comes Charley Musselwhite’s Southside Band. Over the next few years he played live with a number of other blues legends, including Muddy Waters and Otis Rush, and appeared on recordings by Canned Heat and John Mayall, his long, searing guitar lines earning him the nickname “the Snake.” When the Heat appeared at Woodstock in 1969, Mandel was their lead guitarist. In 1974, when Mick Taylor left the Rolling Stones, Mandel auditioned for his slot, and played in “Hot Stuff” and “Memory Motel,” from the Stones’ Black and Blue (1976).

Intervention IR-008
Format: LP

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****1/2

When guitarist Mick Jones was asked to leave the Clash in 1983, he formed Top Risk Action Company (T.R.A.C.), a band that soon folded. He then cofounded Big Audio Dynamite with filmmaker and musician Don Letts, who had directed a number of music videos for the Clash. The group’s debut album, This Is Big Audio Dynamite (1985), expanded on the sonic experimentation of the Clash’s Sandinista! (1980) and Combat Rock (1982), and continued Jones’s flirtations with disco, house, electronic pop, and other forms of music beyond punk rock.

BMG 538243611 LC19813
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****

Chrissie Hynde released her first solo album, Stockholm, two years ago, but of the many records released under the Pretenders name since 1980, she’s the only constant. Hynde is the only original Pretender on Alone, but the album rocks as hard and tough as those from the band’s peak years, in the 1980s. Fellow Ohioan Dan Auerbach, of the Black Keys, produced Alone, and he gives it a vintage rock feel that ends up sounding utterly fresh.