• SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh's Five New Solid-State Integrated Amplifiers (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Amphion's Krypton Loudspeaker (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Anthem STR Preamplifier and Power Amplifier (December 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh Laboratory MA252 Integrated Amplifier (November 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Hegel H90 and H190 Integrated Amplifiers (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - How Hegel's SoundEngine Works (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight  - Estelon History and YB and Extreme Loudspeakers (September 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - What Makes Hegel Different? (August 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Estelon Extreme Legacy Edition Loudspeaker (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion Overview and Technologies (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! Insight - Totem Acoustic Signature One Loudspeaker (June 2017)
  • SoundStage! Encore - The Cowboy Junkies'
  • 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)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh MC275 Stereo Amplifier (June 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh History and Autoformer Technology (June 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - NAD Viso HP50 Headphones (May 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - GoldenEar Technology's Anechoic Chamber (May 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - PSB's M4U 4 Earphones (April 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - GoldenEar Technology's Triton Two+ and Three+ Loudspeakers (March 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- KEF's LS50 (February 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Monitor Audio's Platinum II Series (January 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Pryma 0|1 Headphones (December 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- KEF's Blade Two Loudspeaker (November 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- KEF and the Uni-Q (October 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Monitor Audio Acoustics & Aesthetics (August 2015)

Columbia/Legacy 88985454672
Format: 2 CDs

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

Of all the many phases of Bob Dylan’s career, his turn to charismatic Christianity in the late 1970s was the most puzzling and controversial, to fans and music critics alike. Dave Marsh, in The New Rolling Stone Record Guide (1983), wrote of Slow Train Coming (1979), the first album professing Dylan’s new faith, that the singer-songwriter “seemed to be using religion to front some new found right-wing political views.”

Mercury Nashville B0027408-02
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Chris Stapleton has written six No.1 hits for other singers, and more than 150 of his songs have appeared on albums by musicians as diverse as Adele, George Strait, and Tim McGraw. Stapleton is no Music City hack but a skilled singer, songwriter, and guitarist whose knowledge and command of Southern music idioms runs deep. Last year’s From a Room: Volume 1 owed as much to Gregg Allman as to George Jones, and was well played and refreshingly unslick. The Country Music Association awarded it Album of the Year.

Sour Mash/Caroline JDNCCD27-2567067405
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
***

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

Given that he was the principal songwriter for Oasis, it’s not surprising that the first two albums from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds were well crafted and tuneful. The group’s eponymous 2011 debut and its 2015 follow-up, Chasing Yesterday, were accessible and filled with hooks, while sounding different enough from Oasis to stand on their own. At times, Gallagher’s solo albums have felt somewhat reserved, as if he wanted to explore other facets of pop without returning to ground he’d already covered with Oasis.

ABKCO/Polydor B0027711-02
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****1/2

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****

“Long before ‘The Greatest Rock ’n’ Roll Band in the World’ became a reality,” Richard Havers writes in his liner note for the Rolling Stones’ On Air, “this was a band playing the music they loved so much -- Blues, R&B, and even Country music.” The deluxe two-disc set includes 32 tracks from broadcasts the Stones made for BBC Radio between 1963 and 1965. (A single-disc version comprises 18 tracks.) At the end of that time, they were more than a band with an uncanny command of American music -- they were making music as exciting and as transformative as the records that had inspired them.

A&C Productions A+C144
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****

On October 17, 2017, Gord Downie, lead singer of The Tragically Hip, died at the age of 53. Three days later, Canada’s CTV broadcast Long Time Running, a documentary of the band’s final tour. In 2016 Downie had learned that he had inoperable brain cancer, and the band quickly scheduled 15 shows for July and August. One of the most moving sections of the film shows Downie before each show, hugging and lightly kissing on the lips each of his fellow band members and the crew. It was his way of showing them how much he loved them, and how important they were to him.

ECM 2534
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

I first heard of English jazz musician Django Bates when he was a member of Bill Bruford’s Earthworks, in which he played keyboards, English horn, and trumpet. Bates was with Earthworks from 1986 until 1993, but during that period also made recordings with the British big band Loose Tubes and as leader of Human Chain. His extensive discography since then includes appearances on ECM as a sideman; The Study of Touch is his first recording for the label as a leader.

Fonograf/Capitol B002716202
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

Beck’s last album, Morning Phase (2014), was subdued, reminiscent in some ways of his Sea Change (2002), but more hopeful. Beck rarely repeats himself, so it’s not surprising that Colors is different from its predecessor, and its upbeat bounce makes it different from any other Beck album. His songcraft makes it still recognizably Beck, and the lyrics sometimes carry a more complex message than the music suggests, but the swirling keyboards and shiny guitars give it the sheen and sweetness of hard candy.

Constellation CST126
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****

Godspeed You! Black Emperor is a Montreal-based musical collective, established in 1994, that has to its credit six studio albums and an EP. The group’s press releases give their music a strong political context, and their newest album, Luciferian Towers, is no exception. The new album’s webpage includes descriptions of the ideas behind each of its four tracks as well as a list of demands, the latter including a request that “the expert fuckers who broke this world never get to speak again.” Regardless of which side you’re on, anyone with a knowledge of recent political history can support that statement.

ECM 2533 (B0027130-02)
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****

The cover of Gary Peacock’s newest CD, Tangents, shows a group of trees, bare but for a few yellow leaves, in late fall or early winter. At 82, Peacock is in the winter of life, but if Tangents is any indication, playing music keeps him young and mentally alert.

Wincraft Music/Thirty Tigers WM002
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

Steve Winwood’s tenth solo album is a two-CD collection of live performances by his current band that reaches back through a career that began in 1963, when he joined the Spencer Davis Group at age 15. Four years later he cofounded Traffic, and in 1977 went on to a highly successful solo career. Greatest Hits Live touches on all phases of his years in music, and brings new, fresh takes to his best-known songs.