Album Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  May 27, 2021  |  54 comments
"La Nevada" means "snowfall" but the opening track of this Gil Evans classic begins as a musical desert mirage of a distant train that approaches slowly, with you sitting on the tracks directly in its path. As the train gets closer (and louder) the repeated simple four bar riff grows in intensity adding growling, snarling brass and reeds drivers by Ron Carter's and Elvin Jones's insistent yet slinky rhythmic drive. Aside from the trombone section's part being notated, the performance is improvised, a highlight being Ray Crawford's guitar searing the left channel behind which trombone locomotive horns warn you to get out of the way, but by then it's too late and the music runs you over!

Michael Fremer  |  May 25, 2021  |  14 comments
I meant to review this album of Norah Jones "extras" that she released last year but it kind of slipped through the cracks. It plays like a carefully thought out thematic song cycle but it isn't. Instead it's a set of "leftovers" from a series of collaborative efforts, many of which were released as singles. You might even think it's a personal "break-up" album, particularly given the album title, but it's not that either.

Michael Fremer  |  May 24, 2021  |  25 comments
Fifty one later Déjà vu still delivers a powerful musical, lyrical and sonic jolt, especially on this newly remastered 50th anniversary set that includes the original record on 180g vinyl mastered by Chris Bellman, cut using the original master tape.

Michael Fremer  |  May 17, 2021  |  165 comments
Is it possible to now write anything that hasn’t already been written or said about this record? I haven’t any fresh insights to offer that might advance what you probably already know. A good Kind of Blue pressing puts you in the 30th Street studio to hear the performance. Ashley Kahn’s “Kind of Blue” book sets the pre-recording stage, offering both musical and technical details and puts you as much in the control room as in front of the band.

Nathan Zeller  |  May 17, 2021  |  4 comments
September 26th, 1997 marks the release date of Travis’s debut effort Good Feeling. It’s also the day the group didn’t take the world by storm.

Michael Leser Johnson  |  May 16, 2021  |  20 comments
In May of 1913, just one year before the start of the first World War, Igor Stravinsky premiered his third ballet with the Ballets Russes in Paris: Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring). The premiere would go down in history for a number of reasons, primarily due to the unruly Parisian audience that descended into what could be referred to as a riot. What was so scandalous about the Rite? Stravinsky, along with choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky, wanted to evoke a picture of Russia from the distant, pagan past. A story of an ancient pagan rite where a young maiden would be chosen to dance herself to death to appease the ancestors and secure a bountiful harvest. The music, while stylistically not a huge departure from Stravinsky’s two previous and successful Parisian ballets, was dissonant, brutal, and rhythmically disorienting. Likewise, Nijinsky’s choreography was rigid, and was meant to mimic the flat, two-dimensional style of prehistoric paintings. The audience that night was not having it, but their uproar helped launch the Rite into infamy, helping it to become one of the most talked about and often performed works of the 20th century.

Michael Fremer  |  May 06, 2021  |  21 comments
At a time when “all you can eat” music almost force feeds us with more content than any of us can possibly consume, and “table hopping” seems to be the order of the day, it may seem counterintuitive to serve up a multi-course meal like John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band The Ultimate Collection— a 6 CD, 2 Blu-Ray deep dive remixed set that explores the deepest recesses of John Lennon’s pivotal and most consequential album.

Nathan Zeller  |  Apr 28, 2021  |  7 comments
“Peace and love” is the defining mantra of Ringo Starr, one of two surviving Beatles. It’s sappy, cheesy, and agonizingly overused, but in all seriousness, it’s a message the world desperately needs. Though there’s a lot to hate, love is, in my mind, the true meaning of life. Keep in mind, I say this having learned it from others, namely the musicians I admire. Ringo, now 80 years old (he really doesn’t look it), is one of many who gather conclusions from a long, rich life. It’s here, on this EP, where the superstar shares his wisdom.

Evan Toth  |  Apr 26, 2021  |  2 comments
Here's one you might have missed along the way: an authentic, late-70s, unsung heavy-hitter of rock and roll medley in the Memphis vein of Big Star and Ardent studios. What if I said that this musician was in fact a peer of Big Star and even briefly had his own group with Chris Bell and Jody Stephens? What if I could characterize the music as a hybrid of Big Star, Emmitt Rhodes and Todd Rundgren, yet also have its own unique sonic quality? Sound too good to be true? Keep reading, it gets even better.

Nathan Zeller  |  Mar 31, 2021  |  2 comments
I remember a time when a friend would visit weekly, and we’d gather around a laptop and sing songs. While our musical tastes were usually in synch, there would always be a tune or two that made one of us frown. Consequently, I ended up learning a lot about his musical tastes, as I’m sure he did of mine. One night, after singing “All My Loving” for the umpteenth time (this is when my Beatles obsession began), he queued a song from Weezer— a band I had never before heard of. I can’t recall the name of the song, but I politely smiled through it, readying my dismissal of the group.

Nicholas Coleman  |  Mar 31, 2021  |  0 comments
Green Day’s Insomniac 25th Anniversary Deluxe Limited Edition double LP is pressed on black or translucent orange vinyl (add $2) and includes Winston Smith’s cover art printed on prismatic silver foil. The first LP is a remastered version of the 1995 album. The second LP includes on side A selected live tracks from their revered 1996 Prague show and on side B an etching.

Nathan Zeller  |  Mar 30, 2021  |  16 comments
Lana Del Rey is living proof that what’s old will come around, and what’s new isn’t always better. AnalogPlanet readers and writers alike are quite familiar with this sentiment. Nothing beats the magic of the vinyl record. As most music consumers jump between formats, I often ask myself, “Why move past something that works so well?” Lana Del Rey, an enthusiast of all things vintage, asks the same question, only with music.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 29, 2021  |  26 comments
The beating heart of this remarkable collaboration between electronic musician/composer Sam Shepherd, better known as Floating Points, saxophonist Pharoah Sanders and The London Symphony Orchestra is a repeated series of ethereal drops of glistening arpeggiated sonic dew Shepherd plays on synthesizer, piano and what sounds like a harpsichord over which Pharoah Sanders delicately flutters and dances—only occasionally producing the voluminous blasts heard in his late ‘60s and early ‘70s albums.

Nathan Zeller  |  Mar 19, 2021  |  1 comments
The history of recorded music is as long as it is terrific. While that may sound wonderful, I can assure you there are strings attached.

Today’s mainstream artists face an originality problem, one which many musicians feel no desire to solve— though there are some current exceptions including Jacob Collier, Kendrick Lamar, and Vulfpeck. Few lack the passion required to create something that is truly their own, but among those who do is 22 year-old Canadian Shawn Mendes—one of five under-the-age-of-18 artists in Billboard album chart history to debut at #1. On Wonder, his latest album, Mendes chases that very passion.

Joseph W. Washek  |  Mar 18, 2021  |  18 comments
On December 9, 2010 at about 11:30 pm, I was standing in front of Johnny D’s, a now defunct and demolished Somerville, Massachusetts club, alone with Bert Jansch who about an hour earlier had finished an hour plus set. It was cold, in the twenties and sleet was becoming snow. Bert was holding his guitar, uncased, by the neck in his right hand.

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