Acoustic Sounds

Music Reviews: Vinyl

Like most "overnight successes", the individual members of The Cars knocked around for years working to find the right setting and musical formula before hitting it big with their debut album. Ric Ocasek and Benjamin Orr met in Cleveland, both moving to Boston in the early '70s and releasing non-charting albums in various "folkie" type groups including Milkwood and Cap'n Swing. The Cars formed in 1976 with guitarist and Berklee student Eliot Easton joining Ocasek and Orr (the three had been in Cap'n Swing) and keyboardist Greg Hawkes, who had been in a previous group with the duo but left to tour with musical comedian Martin Mull plus drummer David Robinson late of The Modern Lovers. Hawkes didn't join until early 1977. Whew!

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genre Rock Synthpop Pop Rock format Vinyl

In the mid-1960s, just as rock ‘n’ roll was displacing jazz as America’s foremost popular music, Blue Note Records took a bold but commercially disastrous foray into the avant-garde, signing such adventurers as Andrew Hill, Eric Dolphy, Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Graham Moncur III, and Cecil Taylor. It was a similarly risky move for today’s corporate-owned Blue Note to start reissuing some of these artists’ albums, a few years back, and on deluxe vinyl no less, but... Read More

genre Jazz format Vinyl

Black velvet skies, desolate streets, and lilac bags beneath everyone’s somnolent eyes. Is the foreboding purple from sleep deprivation, early morning’s merciless frost, or both? Fossilised fingers despite wool gloves, numb toes underneath double-layer socks; next year remember three pairs. It seems an ordinary Saturday yet early as 3:00 AM record collectors camp outside. Why? Record Store Day; the day Taylor Swift fans receive their yearly limited edition release.

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genre Folk Folk Pop format Vinyl

Ghost is a band you can hardly run away from. Tobias Forge, who assumes the role of frontman Papa Emeritus IV backed by a revolving door of anonymous musicians known as Nameless Ghouls, has brought an element of theatricality back into the music world that can be traced to older acts such as KISS and Alice Cooper. With a schtick that serves as a Satanic parody of Catholicism it's one that could be seen as either sacrilege to the superstitious or tongue-in-cheek... Read More

genre Rock Metal Arena Rock format Vinyl

Recently reissued for its 50th anniversary, Haruomi Hosono's 1973 solo debut Hosono House wasn’t the start of his career, but the first development towards forging his own path. It’s a short, comfortable-sounding record whose homely, domestic charm has proven its lasting appeal.

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In March, I wrote a rave review of Cécile McLorin Salvant’s "Mélusine", her second release on Nonesuch and the most unusual album that she (or any other singer on a major label) has ever produced: a series of songs adapted to a 14th-century fairy tale about a half-woman/half-dragon and the revenge she wreaks on a man who looks where he shouldn’t. Some of the songs were written centuries ago; others were Broadway showtunes, vaudeville ditties, or Salvant... Read More

genre Jazz format Vinyl

One of the most fanatical groups of record collectors to emerge in the past decade are the (primarily western) devotees of a genre of Japanese popular music from the late 1970s and 80s, dubbed retroactively as ‘City Pop.’ City Pop, or in Japanese Shiti poppu (no I am not making that up), comprises a musical collective of soft rock, soul, R&B, funk, and disco artists whose rise in popularity and output mirrors the economic boom of the late 70s that transformed... Read More

As post-pandemic supply chain issues continue and the vinyl market shifts towards younger buyers with tighter budgets, slightly expanded $50-60 commemorative packages have taken focus over the elaborate anniversary box set. The 10th anniversary edition of Daft Punk's inescapable Random Access Memories, retailing at $50, includes a newer lacquer cut of the original album plus a new bonus disc with 35 minutes of “unreleased demos and outtakes.”

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genre Pop Disco Electronic format Vinyl

Reissue annotator Thomas Conrad just about backs into his praise for this lesser known Gil Evans album but he gets the vehicle parked without incident and by the time you've finished reading, if you peruse the notes before playing the record, you'll be anxious to hear it, especially if like Conrad and many other Evans fans (count me in) you can't get enough Evans on record— whether he's covering Hendrix or arranging so many classic albums with... Read More

genre Jazz Big Band format Vinyl

Within the musical landscape of the 70s, the Ramones came out of the woodwork like a brutal attack. Their style of downstroked three-barre-chord songs about sniffing glue, sedation and lobotomies was the antithesis of the overproduced pop and self indulgence prevalent at the time. The band’s first several albums released from 1976 to 1978 (Ramones, Leave Home, Rocket to Russia and Road to Ruin) are, as far as I know, the punk rock bible that every future punk band... Read More

genre Rock Punk format Vinyl

Don’t let the blues get you down. In fact, sometimes, a good blues session can be an uplifting experience, perhaps even cathartic, if you like. The blues aren’t played to make us feel bad, on the contrary, they exist to remind us that we’re not alone with our troubles, and while we may not find the answers we need, sometimes misery loves company and that companionship can be very valuable especially when it comes in the form of a well-pressed piece of vinyl.Such is... Read More

genre Blues format Vinyl

In 1961, John Lee Hooker recorded "Burnin’", an album accompanied by an early version of Motown's legendary Funk Brothers band for Vee Jay Records in one session, probably four hours in length. Vee Jay was an independent label based in Chicago, owned by an African American married couple, Vivian Carter and James Bracken, which had achieved considerable success selling R&B, blues, gospel, and jazz records to Black audiences. Hooker had been recording... Read More

genre Blues format Vinyl

Olivia Jean is a jack of all trades. When a demo of Olivia Jean’s material found its way into Jack White’s hands in 2009, she relocated to Nashville and joined Third Man Records’ (founded by White) stable of artists. After carving her way as a session musician for the likes of Wanda Jackson and Karen Elson, in 2010 Olivia became the lead vocalist/guitarist/primary songwriter of the all-female garage goth band The Black Belles. The material that didn’t quite fit the... Read More

genre Rock format Vinyl

Back in 2014 when I was an undergraduate student at the Manhattan School of Music, I remember the Jazz department in a perpetual uproar over the release of the film Whiplash. It seems every Jazz musician I knew had something to say about that movie, from praise to condemnation, from astonishment at what it got right, to a laundry list of everything it got wrong (it didn’t help that supposedly the fictional “Schaefer Conservatory” was based on our own institution).... Read More