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Malachi Lui  |  Jun 28, 2020  |  33 comments
(Vinyl Reports is an AnalogPlanet feature aiming to create a definitive guide to vinyl LPs. Here, we talk about sound quality, LP packaging, music, and the overarching vinyl experience.)

As the world moves to reopen, record stores are slowly allowing customers back in. Here in Portland, OR, Music Millennium recently held a week of appointment-only personal shopping experiences (charitable donation necessary), then subsequently reopened with a 10 person limit and new safety measures. I shopped during the “be the only customer inside!” period and reviewed below are four recent acquisitions.

Joseph W. Washek  |  Jun 19, 2020  |  15 comments
In January 1961, Riverside Records sent the great, but sadly uncelebrated recording engineer, David Jones (also known as Dave Jones and David B. Jones) to New Orleans to record Black traditional jazz musicians for a projected series of albums to be called “New Orleans—The Living Legends”. Jones is little remembered today and remains a shadowy figure, despite recording five months later, also for Riverside, the all-time audiophile classic Bill Evans LPs, Sunday At The Vanguard and Waltz For Debby. Jones did not follow the career path that made other recording engineers who were his contemporaries, latter day icons. He never recorded rock or pop music, limiting himself to on-location recordings for small independent labels of ethnic and classical music, and occasionally jazz. The personal recording style that he created and mastered strove to capture the natural sound of instruments in a room from a slightly distant, contemplative perspective and eschewed whizzbangery and artificial flash. It’s a subtle style that does not immediately impress and one that has undoubtedly limited his reputation.

Michael Fremer  |  May 19, 2020  |  54 comments
Well, here we go. More than 125 people have participated in the It’s Just Wire “blind test”, so thank you all. Certainly, we’ve dispelled the ridiculous notion that “wire is wire” and that all wire sounds the same. Which one might prefer is of course a personal preference. That we’d need blind A/B/X testing to “prove” that any sonic differences exist is absurd.

Malachi Lui  |  Apr 30, 2020  |  11 comments
You enter a record store and alphabetically dig through the rap LPs. You reach W: West, Kanye. All of the widely distributed Kanye LPs appear, but of his 2013 cinematic masterpiece Yeezus, a “FOR PROMOTIONAL USE ONLY” copy appears. The jacket shows Virgil Abloh’s iconic album package design, a red-taped CD case, cropped and blown up to a 12” square. Yeezus on vinyl?! A promo? For real??? Uhhhh, no.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 25, 2020  |  12 comments
Last year (April 8th 2019) while visiting contributing editor Malachi Lui in Portland, we paid a visit to Cascade Record Pressing in nearly Milwaukie, Oregon. For one reason or another the tour video never posted, until now.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 10, 2020  |  13 comments
AnalogPlanet visits German turntable manufacturer Acoustic Signature in the company's modern factory located in Süssen just outside of Stuttgart. The vertically integrated company—Germany's second largest turntable manufacturer— owns its own factory, in which you'll see state of the art CNC machinery, "Teutonic" organization and extreme manufacturing and assembling efficiency.

Michael Fremer, Malachi Lui  |  Mar 01, 2020  |  23 comments
Here are our choices for the best reissues of the past decade. They include individual LPs, box sets and ongoing series. We decided to omit from the list re-mixes such as Abbey Road, because they are not strictly “reissues” as well as “newly found” older recordings such as John Coltrane’s Blue World. Obviously, over the long decade—and one where vinyl again became the reissue format of choice—there were far too many worthwhile records than we could manageably list—Analogue Productions and Mobile Fidelity alone produced dozens of list-worthy reissues. Here are the ones we decided were most important and most worthy of your attention. Please contribute yours in the comments!

Michael Fremer  |  Feb 24, 2020  |  3 comments
Spinbase is a compact (18”Wx13.5”Dx8”H) all-in-one audio system (available in either black or white) that incorporates a two-way vented stereo speaker system featuring a pair of Class “D” powered soft dome tweeters and active woofers using sophisticated DSP processing to produce a box-escaping 270 degree sound field.

Malachi Lui  |  Feb 18, 2020  |  65 comments
(Vinyl Reports is a new AnalogPlanet feature intended to create a definitive guide to vinyl LPs. Here, we’ll provide sound quality, LP packaging, notes about the overarching vinyl experience, and sometimes music reviews. Today’s vague theme is what this recurring feature is generally about: records new and old, good and bad. Let the fun begin…)

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 24, 2020  |  49 comments
Frankly speaking, I don’t like lists. It’s bad enough to pick 5 best albums over a year, never mind 50 over a decade. It’s worse to have to almost arbitrarily list them in descending order, but that’s the self-assignment so that’s what I’ve done. While I was already Social Security eligible a decade ago, many people found my behavior to be that of a 4 year old, so perhaps that’s why my pal Malachi, the site’s other “regular writer” and I get along so well. Plus, while I won’t repeat his political comments, we are on the same page there too, though he’s probably slightly to my left. Clearly we diverge somewhat musically, though both of us agree on the #1 record of the past decade and David Bowie is our favorite artist. He’s encouraged me to listen to Kanye and Tyler, the Creator as well as Frank Ocean and I’m glad he did. I turned him on to Gil Evans and he’s glad I did.

Malachi Lui  |  Jan 23, 2020  |  83 comments
For this list, there is no introductory statement that won’t come across as overly self-absorbed and politically bitter, so I’ll just indulge: despite barely being 4 years old at its beginning, I acknowledge that the 2010’s were a complete mess. Disastrous elections, racism, religious and regional intolerance, war, and climate change all contributed to our current feeling of impending doom, yet music remained brilliant. As it’s now “best albums of the decade” list season, to retain our reputation as an excellent music criticism website that doesn’t blindly overrate Vampire Weekend, of course we’re joining the action! Each of our two regular writers will post their top 50 albums of the decade lists, potentially followed by an AnalogPlanet team list with annotations. Before the main top 50 list however, there are several honorable mentions that, for one reason or another, aren’t in an AOTD conversation but are nonetheless enjoyable. Below are the honorable mentions listed in order of how their representing songs appear in the attached Tidal, Spotify, and YouTube playlists (sorry, Apple Music users and Endless fans):

Malachi Lui  |  Jan 07, 2020  |  36 comments
I honestly suck at keeping up on new music. Sure, I’m shoving out another mostly negative Review Explosion every three weeks when some artist past their prime pushes out another hour of dreck (or when Earl releases a stupidly annoying, half-baked 15 minute “album”) but I still don’t feel that I spend enough time covering what actually matters. As in, what’s actually good and worth talking about. Unfortunately, one music critic with their own taste and near-daily spins of IGOR can only do so much; no matter how hard I work, there are always a dozen supposedly great albums that I’ve fallen behind on even hearing.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 03, 2020  |  11 comments
Bob George The Archive of Contemporary Music's founder and director was scheduled to participate in a "Making Vinyl Hollywood" panel discussion I moderated last fall, so to prep for it I called Mr. George and proposed a visit to the Archive during which we'd discuss his participation. As you'll see in the video, by the time I visited last September I'd forgotten the reason for the visit!

Malachi Lui  |  Dec 30, 2019  |  22 comments
(This year, contributing editor Malachi Lui launches an annual segment covering the year’s 10 worst albums. And boy, are there some bad ones this year. Now let’s dive into The Year-End Garbage Can…)

Malachi Lui  |  Dec 23, 2019  |  6 comments
It’s been a while since I’ve posted an AnalogPlanet playlist, mostly since I’ve busied myself with many other projects. But because it’s the holiday season, it’s only appropriate to bring, with a selection of my Christmas favorites, some holiday fun on here. There’s a mix of the normal picks (Nat “King” Cole’s “The Christmas Song” and the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s A Charlie Brown Christmas) and some seasonal tracks from a couple of my favorite artists (Tyler’s “Lights On,” the White Stripes’ “Candy Cane Children,” and the David Bowie/Bing Crosby collab) as well as some “how did anybody let this happen?!?!?!” Christmas songs (Dylan’s “Must Be Santa” and Eilert Pilarm’s rendition of “Blue Christmas”). Below are Tidal, Spotify, and YouTube playlists (sorry, Apple Music users) followed by commentary on each song. (Note: David Bowie and Bing Crosby’s “Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy” isn’t on the Tidal playlist. The record label made every effort to delete the song’s original version from streaming services in favor of the far inferior “modernized” London Symphony Orchestra-overdubbed version.)

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