It’s the time of year for saving money!
Here at Audiophile Review we receive a lot of albums for review consideration. We try to listen to them all and report on titles that we enjoy and feel are worthy of your consideration. If you’d like to preview this music, you can find all of these albums following conveniently streaming on Qobuz, Tidal and Apple Music. But of course, if you enjoy the music, its always best to show your support for the artists buy buying their physical albums on vinyl or CD and related merchandise.
Bird Streets’ Lagoon
Back in 2019 I reviewed a wonderful album by a new group, the brainchild of composer, singer and performer John Brodeur, called Bird Streets (click here to read that review). With ties to the Big Star multi-verse, Brodeur and his flock recently released the vinyl version of their new Bird Streets album called Lagoon and it was worth wait.
This new album offers a sweet blend of big bold, power pop-leaning rock epics, loosely psychedelic periodically folk-flavored ballads and no shortage of earworm-y hooks. Featuring more sophisticated production supporting the at times deeper and heavier themes, this album is both a logical successor to its debut and a significant step forward for Mr. Brodeur on many levels, from orchestral strings and soulful horns and to Mellotron flourishes.
Spread across two LPs, the expansive album was recorded at a multitude of studios including Big Star home-base Ardent Studios. Produced by Wilco guitarist Patrick Sansone and mastered by Grammy nominee Pete Lyman, this new Bird Streets album includes Big Star drummer Jody Stephens, Aimee Mann, John Davis (of SuperDrag) and many other luminaries.
The standard weight opaque bone-white vinyl pressing is very good and the sound is very nice as modern pop albums go — spinning at 45 RPM for best possible fidelity, this album sounds great when you crank it up loud! Each disc on Lagoon comes to you housed in a protective plastic-lined audiophile-grade inner sleeve.
Check out Brodeur’s haunting Thom-Yorke-worthy scream at the of “Ambulance” — “this is not a victory!” — as the mellotron brings you back down to earth. I love the Memphis-flavored horn section on “Disappearing Act” driving home the poignant line “just a couple drinks away from being anonymous” — I could imagine a singer with voice like late great soul legend Solomon Burke singing this tune! Some of my other favorite tracks on Lagoon are the opening track “Sleeper Agent,” the perhaps confessional “Burnout” and the first single release “Let You Down” which has such a beautiful chorus ready to be your next earworm (video follows).
Eno, Forever Voiceless
I held my breath on this exclusive Record Store Day vocal-free edition of Brian Eno’s latest album FOREVERANEVERMORE as it was pressed on crystal clear vinyl. Knowing how this sort of thing could play out, I could have either been stuck with a clunker or gotten a winner. For the most part, my copy is the latter. There is a little bit of surface noise at the start but it goes away in short order. It wasn’t a deal breaker for me. My buddy Ian up in Vancouver wasn’t so lucky as his copy of the album was terribly noisy. Fortunately, he was able to find another copy at a different store than where he got his initial copy so he’s ok now. But, still, we really shouldn’t have to weather this sort of storm when spending $30 – $40 or more on a brand new album. (Dear quality control folks: please take note).
That said, the new new “voiceless” version of Eno’s new music is indeed very interesting, enjoyable and ultimately beautiful Of course, the music takes on a very different sensibility without Mr. Eno’s haunting vocals delivering the at times dire lyrics found on the original album. And in that sense, having this version available is handy for those moments went you just want to bask in his ambiance. On its own, the music takes on a different sort of beauty unique to Eno. How neat that we can get two so very different experiences from essentially the same music!
I only wish this had been included on Blu-ray edition of FOREVERANEVERMORE; If you missed my review of that edition please click here to read it.
Paco De Lucía: The Montreux Years
I realized when I listened to Paco De Lucía: The Montreux Years that I am pretty much a novice newbie when it comes to Mr. De Lucía’s music. Sure, I’ve heard his playing on the classic trio recording with John McLaughlin and Al Di Meola, Friday Night In San Francisco. And, I have heard some solo recordings by him. But I was surprised to hear him in full on, jazz fusion-like band settings which blend hot grooves with his masterful playing. At times the music reminded me of The Gypsy Kings (“Solo Quiero Caminar”) but with fiery improvisation taking the music into new spaces of exploration. “Alta Mar” features haunting fretless bass soloing by Carlos Benevent that raises ghostly echoes of the influence the late great Jaco Pastorius. For this release the producers cherry-picked from three of his mind-numbly good performances at the festival in 1984, 2006 and 2011 and they are excellent.
As with prior releases in the archival Montreux Jazz Festival series, the fidelity on Paco De Lucía: The Montreux Years is exemplary, pressed on 180-gram heavy weight vinyl that is thick, dark, quiet and well centered. Clearly , I have much more listening to do in order to fully appreciate the scope of this impeccably talented and influential guitarist. Until then Paco De Lucía: The Montreux Yearss proving to be a good introductory primer for me and that is probably the best complement I can offer for any compilation.