Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

  • SoundStage! Shorts - Livio Cucuzza on Audio Research's Industrial Design (November 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Past, Present, and Future (October 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - KEF's New R Series for 2018 (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio Moon 390 Digital/Analog Preamplifier and Streamer (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - EISA 2018-2019 Awards Introduction (August 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio's $118,888 Moon 888 Mono Amplifiers (June 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Totem's Tribe Tower (May 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion's Three Newest Argon Loudspeakers (April 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Making the Hegel Mohican CD Player (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Estelon Lynx Wireless Intelligent Loudspeaker (March 2018)
  • 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)

My Music Empire MME101CD
Format: CD

Musical Performance

Sound Quality

Overall Enjoyment

The Posies’ Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow solidified their place in pop music in the early 1990s, when they appeared in a reconstituted version of Big Star that included original members Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens. By then, the Posies had themselves recorded three terrific power-pop records: Failure (1988), Dear 23 (1990), and Frosting on the Beater (1993). In the ensuing 17 years they released four more studio albums, with a few gaps along the way as Auer and Stringfellow pursued other interests.

Solid States is the first Posies album since Blood/Candy (2010), and Auer and Stringfellow play all the instruments other than the drums. The Posies began as a guitar band, but over the years have introduced keyboards and electronic effects without losing their identity as songwriters. Even when subtly altering their approach, as on Blood/Candy and Every Kind of Light (2005), they’ve always retained their firm grasp of pop craftsmanship and melody.

Solid States

Solid States begins with “We R Power!,” which uses a bit of electronic noise to make it somewhat contemporary -- but the loud guitars, soaring vocal harmonies, and Farfisa organ have a garage-band looseness that keeps the track moving, and reassures longtime fans that the Posies still rock. “Squirrel Vs. Snake” has the grand guitar sweep of early Posies albums, with complex, layered vocal harmonies and effective use of dynamics.

Attention to small details makes Posies songs stick in the memory, and the vintage guitar line of “Unlikely Places” pulled me in, holding everything together even as other elements in the song build, layer by layer. The Beatles-esque keyboards in “Scattered” link this track’s sound to ’60s pop without making it feel dated -- as they dart around in the background, the keys sound right up to date.

The Posies manage to embrace all manner of pop music without sounding derivative. The springy guitar and wordless vocal that open “Titanic” evoke great moments of ’60s and ’70s AM pop. So much of the band’s greatness lies in its ability to absorb pop traditions and make them their own, and “Titanic” draws on the memories while remaining a great Posies tune.

Solid States

“The Plague” captures the paranoia and confusion of America’s current social and political turmoil, its edgy guitars and moody keyboards creating a dark undercurrent. Baroque pop romanticism is on order for “Rollercoaster Zen” and “The Sound of Clouds,” both of which feature deep, expansive harmony vocals in service of delicately beautiful melodies, and rely on keyboards and electronic effects without sounding gimmicky or cold.

The two guest drummers, Frankie Siragusa and Kliph Scurlock (Flaming Lips), give Auer and Stringfellow skilled and sympathetic support. According to the Posies’ website, “Solid States was not recorded in the usual band-in-a-room manner. Stringfellow and Auer sent song ideas back and forth online, writing and largely recording the album separately -- but collaboratively -- in their home studios.”

The result doesn’t sound DIY, but I sometimes wish there were a bit more air around the instruments. Still, each listen revealed more sonic details, and kept me coming back for more -- nor did it hurt that the songs themselves are memorably melodic and complex. The Posies may be a side project for Auer and Stringfellow, but the band still feels like something they care enough about to want to do right.

. . . Joseph Taylor