Green Jellÿ – Cereal Killer Soundtrack (TIDAL Hi-Fi Review)

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Green Jellÿ – Cereal Killer Soundtrack (TIDAL Hi-Fi Review)

For years I have simply loved the song Three Little Pigs. No, not the beloved children’s classic, but the metal-infused Green Jellÿ version from 1993. I like the song so much that I never really gave the associated album any thought. I had originally envisaged that this review would be a one-hit wonder review, but then I decided to listen to the entire album again and I was surprised to find that I truly appreciate the comedic metal and punk infused music style that is applied throughout the entire album.

While it is convenient to dismiss what we don’t like at a given time, this is one example whereby time, and exposure to more music styles, has resulted in an appreciation for the Cereal Killer Soundtrack. I find it intriguing that as time has passed, my musical interests have continued to evolve. Perhaps, I’m finally growing up? Hmm…I don’t know about that, I think I will forever be 16 at heart. Nevertheless, I found that 999’s The Biggest Tour In Sport/The Biggest Prize In Sport really opened doors to the punk side of my personality and I feel there is an entertaining contrast that can be made between these two bands.

Anyway, enough about me, let’s take a look the songs on Green Jellÿ’s Cereal Killer Soundtrack.

Obey The Cowgod is punk heaven and a great way to start the album. The song is intense with punk tones and speed, while having vocals that highlight the metal aspect of the band.

Three Little Pigs is hands down one of my favourite songs of all time. I even added it to Graeme’s playlist when he embarked on his long walk across the Simpson Desert. I honestly don’t think any other song excites me as much as this one. I grin from ear to ear when I play the song and the volume gets pushed to 11. Adding to an already exceptional song is the incredible claymation music video.

Cereal Killer (Edit) is moody, creamy, rock and roll. As this is the edit version, I can’t help but wonder what the complete song sounds like. This edition is certainly worthwhile and reminds me in tone and style of Dio and Iron Maiden. Basically, it’s just bloody good!

Rock-N-Roll Pumpkihn has some seriously nice bass tracks, especially on the intro. However, the vocals in this song drives me nuts and unfortunately detracts from the musicality of the song.

Anarchy In The U.K. reminds me so much of 999 and early White Zombie. Awesome! Plus, for those of you who like The Flintstones, you’ll get a laugh out of this song. It also has a rocking groove that is so addictive, you will be unable to stay still.

Electric Harley House (Of Love) has a gorgeous acoustic guitar intro, but it is one that you know is going to be destroyed once the electric guitar enters the mix. I love music like this as it builds anticipation. This is hardcore rock and roll, with a little punk for added value. I love it!

Trippin’ On XTC is a punk/metal/reggae/R&B infused song that simply gets the body moving. About halfway through it becomes dark and moody in a shift that perfectly suits the song. I certainly appreciate the experimentation the band has shown with this track.

Misadventures Of Shitman has a great spoken and guitar riff intro. Yes, the song is disgusting, as the title eludes to, but it is bloody funny! Think South Park’s Mr. Hankey. I love it!

House Me Teenage Rave is a groovy house-styled song that uses a Monkey as a sexual innuendo point of reference. It is so good, but so inappropriate on so many levels. You simply can’t help but enjoy this track.

Flight Of The Skajaquada (Edit) is a song that has a guitar riff that again reminds me of Iron Maiden. Overall, the song is driven by a killer guitar riff and drum beat, but as any head banger will tell you, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Green Jellÿ Theme Song is the only song from the album, besides Rock-N-Roll Pumpkihn, that I don’t enjoy. The initial groove and beat are superb, but it never really developed into a song that I felt appealed to me. I also don’t feel it was a strong final track as it doesn’t encouraged me to play the album again.

The Cereal Killer Soundtrack, while not technically a soundtrack, is an incredible album that punk and metal fans must listen to at least once. The band is truly greater than the song Three Little Pigs. I can’t believe I ignored such an impressive album for so long.

This is the moment where I need to acknowledge the importance of music streaming services, such as Tidal Hi-Fi. If it were not for these services, my relationship with the band would have remained limited to a single song. Now, however, the CD is in my wish list and if the album ever gets a reprint on vinyl, I will certainly be ordering a copy. While reports regarding streaming services can lament the financial problems faced by the music industry, I feel it offers an opportunity for not only discovery, but for pre-purchasing decisions. Think of it as the modern-day listening booth. You just get to take it with you!

Back to the album and it is fair to say the mastering on this release is superb for this style of music. While it doesn’t have the greatest dynamic range, the stereo imaging of the album is exceptional. Fortunately, nothing has been done to this album since the original release. Fingers crossed it stays that way, it certainly doesn’t need to be ‘remastered’.

Green Jellÿ’s Cereal Killer Soundtrack is available for purchase on CD, iTunes, and the TIDAL Store.

The album is also available for streaming on Apple Music and Spotify.

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Amy Dickson – A Summer Place (TIDAL Hi-Fi Review)

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Amy Dickson – A Summer Place (TIDAL Hi-Fi Review)

I recently had the privilege of coming across this album by accident as a couple of songs were suggested tracks on TIDAL Hi-Fi. Interestingly, the album I was listening to now escapes my memory, but Amy Dickson’s A Summer Place remained in my mind to such an extent that when I was browsing my library of albums, that I have yet to purchase on any physical format, I felt compelled to listen to this exceptional album once again and publish my thoughts.

Australia truly has some of the greatest musicians in the world. While I admit to be biased, there is often a unique styling, that is completely Australian, that you don’t see portrayed in other regions of the world. However, I had to do my research to find out that Amy Dickson is Australian, but now living and working abroad. That said, I honestly thought I was listening to one of the greatest American or European saxophonists; perhaps this isn’t far from the truth as her command of the saxophone is incredible. Dickson’s ability to take the saxophone and tell a story, by talking to the listener directly, is simply amazing. Yes, I have some interesting thoughts as to how music is presented, but I strongly believe that a musician can talk through an instrument, in a universal language, that arguably is impossible to define fully within the limitations of the English language.

Of course, Dickson doesn’t perform alone and those who have contributed on this album perform above, and beyond, any expectations I would have had for this record. The mastering alone is exquisite and I don’t have a single complaint as the album sounds perfect on loudspeakers and headphones. Well, perhaps I have one complaint and that is that TIDAL has yet to implement MQA; although that has nothing to do with the 16/44.1 edition that is currently delivered by TIDAL Hi-Fi. I just want more. Although, that may not be possible as the only physical release of the album was the CD redbook standard that TIDAL Hi-Fi uses and HDTracks only has a 24/44.1 edition that would offer marginal improvements at best. Regardless, the soundstage is wide and perfectly situated with Dickson’s instrumental tones sitting front and centre. Honestly, this album is one that you could use to show off the performance of your stereo system.

The series of tracks presented are well known classics and I predict you will immediately fall in love with the song selection, as I have, although there is a mismatch in the tracking that we will discuss shortly.

A Summer Place is a simply gorgeous song to start this album off with. This edition is also the best rendition that I have ever heard of this song. The music just floats in the air and is so silky smooth that you forget you are listening to a recording. It is as if your memory is playing the song back, the way you have always imagined it to be played.

What’s It All About, Alfie? is iconic and as much as I enjoy this song with lyrics, this is one of those times where the control over the saxophone proves that it can talk, if you are willing to listen.

The Summer Of ’42 is so well known and is another perfect choice for this album. It is pure sonic bliss as you and the music become one.

Take Five is an incredible jazz song, but it really doesn’t suit this tracking position on the album as it is simply too upbeat when compared directly with The Summer Of ’42 and the following Moon River track. It simply makes the album experience feel a little disjointed and it would have been best either at the beginning of the album, or the end.

Moon River is a sonic masterpiece. Nothing else really needs to be said.  

The World We Knew has so much character. It is bold, moody, yet peaceful and harmonious. It is a gorgeous song and Dickson performs it flawlessly.

We Have All The Time In The World is a song that I was not previously familiar with, despite being a fan of John Barry’s compositions. It is a lovely song and I feel that it would have been perfectly suited to accompany Take Five, as it is also a little more upbeat.

Windmills Of Your Mind is another immediately recognisable song that will simply bring tears to your eyes. It is that good!

The Apartment Theme is a song that I have not heard previously and while it certainly suits the album, I’m not sure it is needed. That said, it is, as all the songs are, impeccably performed by not only Dickson, but the London Session Orchestra. Yes, the digital liner notes finally acknowledge the orchestra involved. I have often complained that so many classical-styled releases simply omit these details. It is good to see recognition in this instance.

Is there anyone that doesn’t like The Sound Of Silence? Even Disturbed recorded an incredible edition on their latest album. Needless to say, Dickson has ensured the saxophone metaphorically speaks not only the notes, but the lyrics, as originally depicted by Simon & Garfunkel. One can’t help but wonder what Disturbed, plus Dickson and the London Session Orchestra, would sound like in a live theatre situation with this song. It is the perfect song to end the album on and it always encourages me to play the album again.

A Summer Place is a must own for any classical music fan, or anyone interested in the saxophone. It is exceptional from start to finish, with the only uncomfortably element being Take Five. That said, it is Dickson’s own interpretation of the song and most likely it doesn’t appeal to me as much because of the tracking on the album and the fact that I know the original Brubeck edition so well.

A Summer Place is available for purchase on CD, iTunes, and the TIDAL Store.

It is also available for streaming on Apple Music

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Foxygen – …And Star Power (Tidal Hi-Fi Review)

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Foxygen – …And Star Power (Tidal Hi-Fi Review)

Have you ever come across an album that you love to hate? Well, Foxygen’s …And Star Power is just that as I am continuously torn over my interest in the album. While I thoroughly enjoy many of the tracks on this album, there are some that just defy all logic. In many ways, I feel that this album is perfectly suited for digital delivery, in any digital format, as there are songs that I would simply prefer to bypass with the tap of a button. That said, I still find myself in a quandary as to whether or not I should purchase the vinyl edition. I honestly don’t think I have ever been so torn over the appreciation of an album.

Before we begin with the individual song overview, I want to acknowledge how much I appreciate the album artwork. I feel in many ways that this presentation deserves to be owned on vinyl. The frame as a window into another world is exceptional. Besides a vinyl release, Foxygen have also released the album on cassette. It is packaged in a double cassette case that reminds me of the copy of Elton John’s The Very Best Of Elton John I owned in the 90s. While that album is long out of print, it was reissued by Universal on vinyl a couple of years ago and I was able to secure a copy. If you only purchase one Elton John album, make it that one as it is exceptional and truly highlights his career. I would love to see cassettes to return, just as vinyl has, but I will be content to have a small collection by alternative artists that choose to use the format for artistic purposes.

Foxygen’s style is true indi-rock and very alternative. They have a truly unique sound and with all the listening I have done in my life, I don’t believe that any band has perplexed me as much as Foxygen. Nevertheless, let’s take a look at the songs and see if I will indeed end up purchasing the vinyl edition.

Star Power Airlines has a highly distorted introduction that reminds me of any garage-style band from the late 60s and early 70s. It is a confusing song that is very short and I’m not sure if I like it, but it intrigues me enough to keep listening.

How Can You Really is a pop-infused 70s-style track with a uniquely modern style. The beat is addictive and it would be fair to say that I thoroughly enjoy this track. It is toe tapping and head bopping bliss.

Coulda Been My Love is an absolutely gorgeous song that has harmonious vocal elements overlayed against a core piano backing. The mix of these elements, and the pop-infusion, makes this song very appealing. When I listen to this song, I immediately think of Motown records in the 70s due to the styling applied. It is exceptional, although the ending spoken/radio-esk element is distracting and a little overkill.

Cosmic Vibrations is an exceptional song that is so simple, yet so multi-layered that you will find new elements within the song every time you listen. It has a Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds moody feel to it. I simply love this song!

You & I is a song that makes me think of John and Julian Lennon and their vocal styles. It is a lovely song that I truly enjoy listening to.

Star Power I: Overture has a beat and style that makes me want to turn the volume up to 11 so that I can be completely encased in this experimental sonic wonderland.

Star Power II: Star Power Nite returns to the chaos that was first experienced on Star Power Airlines. It is very erratic and I find my mind is confused with regards to how to react to the music.

Star Power III: What Are We Good For is similarly confusing in its musicality. I simply don’t enjoy the entrance to this track and the chorus is just weird. Although, the song does get better throughout, but your body really doesn’t know how to respond to what it’s hearing. This is a indi/alternative style that I can respect, but I’ve never truly understood.

Star Power IV: Ooh Ooh has some lovely vocal harmonies that remove the stigma of the last two tracks. That said, the styling of this song is different, but I like it!

I Don’t Have Anything/The Gate is a song that I am simply unsure about. I like elements of the song, but there are also elements that I don’t appreciate. The musical elements in the second half of the song are really appealing, but the vocal distortion is a real distraction to my mind. That said, I truly think this is one of those songs that will grow on me.

Mattress Warehouse has an addictive beat that will get your body moving. It is unlike any song I have heard before and that is a testament to the uniqueness of Foxygen. It is also one of the reasons why I keep returning to this album, despite my love/hate relationship with it. In all honesty, this song is likely my favourite track on the album.

666 is quite an interesting track that could be classed as punk-pop in styling. It is a fun song that works well with the flow of the album.

Flowers is a song that I consider to be Beatles-esk. It just has that experimental sound and beat that is addictive and intriguing at the same time. I love it!

Wally’s Farm reminds me of a b-grade movie soundtrack. Believe it or not, that is a compliment!

Cannibal Holocaust is a song that I just can’t find the groove to. The vocals are very distant in the mix and while this is most likely intentional, I’m not sure it works. Interestingly, an enjoyable groove becomes apparent midway through the song, but by that stage I am a little shell shocked and expect it to return to the previous confused state at any moment.

Hot Summer is a song I really enjoy. The sonic elements just work.

Cold Winter/Freedom has an eerie intro. In-fact, the entire song really doesn’t go beyond the introduction. The music reminds me of a record being played backwards, in search of the hidden meaning. It is enjoyable in a weird way that I simply cannot explain in words. Then, as many of Foxgen’s songs do, the song changes pace and purpose midway through the track. It is certainly an interesting dichotomy.

Can’t Contextualize My Mind reminds me of early Rolling Stones stuff, pre-Sympathy For The Devil. I like it! Although, the ending is a high screeching nightmare.

Brooklyn Police Station is a song that I like, but I’m not really sure what the appeal of it is. Although, it could be said that sometimes not knowing can be a good thing and one need not always understand music to enjoy it. That is certainly the case with regards to this song.

The Game is somewhat in the same category of appreciation as the song Brooklyn Police Station.

Freedom II has a groovy beat but the lyrical overlay is distracting. As an instrumental track, I feel it would be epic. Although, I love the vocal delivery in the final moments of the song.

Talk begins with a beautiful guitar introduction before all hell breaks loose. Unfortunately, it is a song that I don’t enjoy as my senses have been jolted by the sharp change in musical direction. The entrance to the track was just enough to get into a groove and the abrupt change was just cruel to listener.

Everyone Needs Love is incredibly soothing after Talk. My mind wants to relax and enjoy, but I am scared that the musical direction will change again and therefore I’m not letting myself become as immersed in the song as I would like. That said, it is an enjoyable song with a good beat that for some reason makes me think of Bobby Womack.

Hang is a good song to end the album on. It isn’t too left of the centre and is sombre enough to bring the album to a non-abrupt end–well, that’s if you ignore the final ten seconds.

...And Star Power is an intriguing album from start to finish, but I find it to be extremely fatiguing. By the time I have reached the end of the 80-minute album, I’m mentally exhausted and I find that I don’t want to listen to any music for a while, or repeat the album. Sometimes this feeling can be attributed to the mastering, but in this case I feel the mastering is excellent. I feel it is the constant change in musicality that is the reason behind the fatigue. That said, if the album was half the length, I feel I would have a very different opinion. It is important to note that the album is somewhat divided into four unique sections, but unfortunately that separation did not make it to the TIDAL Hi-Fi edition and TIDAL merely represents the album as a 24-track epic.

I also can’t help but wonder how the high-pitched elements would be presented on vinyl as I find digital music can often amplify the highs in music to ear piecing levels. As vinyl mastering is rather stringent, I would assume it could rein in some of these wild elements.

Overall, I find Foxygen’s …And Star Power to be an album, with a series of songs, that I thoroughly enjoy. Is it worth adding this album to my vinyl collection? I believe so. In-fact, the vinyl release could be beneficial with regards to the fatigue aspect as I can play the album one side at a time. I also feel that the album could be played in any order, similar to how I appreciate Sigur Rós album ().

…And Star Power is available for purchase on vinyl, cassette, and CD. It is also available for purchase digitally via iTunes and the TIDAL Store.

The album is also available for streaming on Apple Music.

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Laura Michelle – Novel With No End (TIDAL Hi-Fi Review)

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Laura Michelle – Novel With No End (TIDAL Hi-Fi Review)

Over the past few months, I have once again become captivated by the pop music genre. It encompasses a style of music that was very near, and dear, to my heart throughout my teenage years. Although, as a musical discipline I feel pop music has been overexposed for years with too many substandard performers. I therefore find Laura Michelle’s debut album Novel With No End to be a most intriguing listening experience as she delivers a unique performance.

Laura’s vocals are gorgeous and shows a young artist who has plenty of potential, but I don’t feel the accompanying musical elements were pushed as far as they could have been. For me, some of the songs sounded predictable. That said, there are some standout tracks where the musicality is off the chart.

Novel With No End is an album that crosses both pop and country disciplines, with a touch of rock. Subjectively, I like this cross-styled approach.

As I listen to this album, I find myself recalling Delta Goodrem’s amazing debut album Innocent Eyes. I consider Goodrem to be one of the best female-pop artists in the world today. While Laura Michelle’s style is absolutely unique, her professionalism with the microphone is on par with the performances that Delta Goodrem made on her debut.

For this review I used TIDAL Hi-Fi and found the mastering of the album to be adequate for a pop release, but it has been mastered a little hot and subsequently the stereo imaging is limited and you tend to experience a wall of sound coming from the speakers, rather than being completely immersed in the music. Yes, I know that this is a modern style of mastering, but I really want more dynamic range from modern albums. I just hope that the album has been recorded with a full dynamic range, so that it can be re-issued at a later date. That said, it doesn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying Novel With No End.

Throwaway is a fun track but there is a little sibilance in Laura’s vocal that detracts me. As I always say in my reviews, don’t look for sibilance because once you know what to listen for, you’ll hear it on numerous albums.

Top Of The World has a beat and guitar riff that I absolutely love. It will get you head bopping and toe tapping from the first note. Seriously, turn this track up to 11. It is incredible!

Chameleon has a lovely synth and acoustic guitar introduction that continues throughout the song. It is an element that really appeals to me and one that I feel could be remixed perfectly. I’d love to see what Calvin Harris could do with this song, although it is already exceptional in this current rendition.

Cigarette is a moody song that has a great beat and guitar riff, although it is a little more pop driven, whereas, I feel the song would have made a perfect rock and roll track. Of course, that is just my subjective opinion, but I feel the song doesn’t quite know if it wants to be pop or rock. Regardless, I thoroughly enjoy it and find that I’m turning up the volume and toe tapping along with this song.

Cougar has another great beat and again makes me think that Laura Michelle could quite easily move into rock and roll music like Fergie did with Slash on the song Beautiful Dangerous.

Chuck Norris is a song that I just don’t like. It is too teeny bopper for me. It immediately makes me think of songs that would appear on any coming-of-age film soundtrack.

The Credits returns the album to a song that I feel is reminiscent of the album as a whole and truly respects the quality of Michelle’s vocals. It is a lovely country-pop infused song.

Save Me is another song that truly highlights the remarkable voice of Laura Michelle. While the song has been recorded with a live string section, I would love to hear a version with a full symphony orchestra as I feel this song has untapped potential. Michelle's harmonic overlaps, towards the end of the track, are a perfect addition.

Ain’t Your Home is an enjoyable song that blends well with the entire album, but I feel the performance was held back a little. There is just something missing that I can’t quite explain.

Knocks Me Back isn’t one of my favourite tracks as I feel it is too safe in regards to simply ticking all the relevant pop music boxes.

My Baby Loves Me is a perfectly acceptable song, but I feel like it is a b-side to the album.

Novel With No End is an absolutely gorgeous song. This is the song that specifically reminds me of Delta Goodrem’s vocal style, but it also provides validation to me that Laura Michelle will be a female vocalist to take note of in the coming years as she continues to develop and refine her vocal capabilities.

Boy To Smell is a song that I feel should have been tracked earlier in the album as I feel Novel With No End would have been the perfect song to close the album on as it is, in my opinion, the highlight of the entire album. That said, Boy To Smell isn’t a bad song, it just doesn’t make me want to immediately play the album again.

Overall, for a debut album, Novel With No End is exceptional and I can’t wait to watch what I predict will be a very successful career for Laura Michelle.

Novel With No End is available for purchase on iTunes and the TIDAL Store. However, there is currently no physical release for this album, but the iTunes release does come with a digital booklet, if you're interested in liner notes.

Novel With No End is also available for streaming on Apple Music

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Carpenters – Close To You (CD Review)

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Carpenters – Close To You (CD Review)

For years, I have been captivated by the Carpenters and the incredible vocal capabilities of Karen Carpenter. To say the world of music is a lesser place for her no longer being with us is an incredible understatement. For me, she was the quintessential female vocalist. Her vocal range was incredibly smooth and immediately identifiable. I find with modern music, that many of the vocalists blur into one another and lack a defined sound. Yes, imitation is a form of flattery, but there can only be one Karen Carpenter and this should also apply to all present and future musicians; for nothing is more enjoyable as a music lover than randomly listening to a song and instantly identifying the artist. Seriously, try it with modern music, of any genre, and you will find that many of the run-of-the-mill songs and albums don’t have a unique sound.

What is unique is the Carpenter’s second album Close To You. It is an exceptionally refined recording that could easily be mistaken for a greatest hits collection. That said, I don’t believe the Carpenters ever released a bad album, although I am critical of some of their style experimentations, on various albums.

The version I have of Close To You is the ‘digitally remastered’ release from 1990 and to be honest, it isn’t a bad mastering. Perhaps that is because it was mastered before the ‘loudness wars’. Certainly, there have been no additional re-mastering attempts and I have to be completely honest by saying that this is a good thing. While I have never heard an analogue version of this album, I feel that much of the sound that is associated with analogue sound has made it through the transfer. That said, it is still a little too sterile for my liking, but it is not obnoxiously so.

Regarding the analogue reproduction of the Carpenters, I have the vinyl re-issue of The Singles 1969-1973 that contains (They Long To Be) Close To You, amongst others. Yes, we all love that song, even though it has been overplayed, but I have to be completed honest when I say that this vinyl re-issue offers a superior sonic quality than this ‘digitally remastered’ edition. It is smoother and fuller. Yes, all the buzzwords that vinyl lovers throw around, but for good reason. Vinyl simply fills in the gaps. It is also a very different mastering approach and while I acknowledge that it may in-fact be the technological limitations of vinyl that colourises the sound, I like it!

Unfortunately, on both of these albums, mastering details are largely non-existent and unverifiable. Therefore, I don’t know the original source that was used for either release or the mastering engineer involved. Although, Bernie Grundman and Richard Carpenter have been referenced in relation to the CD remastering from 1990. Despite this, one must remember that each mastering engineer will master an album for their own particular tastes. Hence, why it is essential to have some of this information, especially with regards to vinyl re-issues, as too many are reportedly using questionable CD-quality masters to print the new vinyl re-issues. In a world where vinyl and streaming music delivery platforms are consistently increasing in popularity, skimping on vinyl production is only going to have a negative effect on the music industry as a whole. I implore anyone in the creation of music to take the mastering process very seriously, to ensure that the ultimate physical format is the perfect complementary product for the modern day streaming technologies.

My opinion is that the vinyl re-issue of The Singles 1969-1973 is most likely pressed from the 96kHz/24bit release that can be found on HDtracks as Universal Music, under their Back to Black label, are not always going back to the original tapes, but using the high-resolution digital master that was hopefully captured from a first generation master and mastered correctly.

While the CD is adequate, the quality of the CD booklet is pathetic. Seriously, if you’re going to go to the trouble of remastering the music, why not include additional photographs and liner notes from the era? Even updated notes that look back at the album, the production, and the remastering process would be appreciated. The CD design is so uninspiring that I would say you’re better off streaming the album as the physical product doesn’t offer any additional value; especially if you’re a TIDAL Hi-Fi subscriber.

Nevertheless, let’s take a look at the songs that make this album a must own/listen for any fan of the Carpenters:

We’ve Only Just Begun is a simply gorgeous song to start the album with. It is the epitome of the Carpenters in my opinion. An intertwining mix of piano, vocals, and a gentle beat that is hypnotic, ensures this song is repeatedly played. The only element that I don’t like in this song is the drum beat. It sounds rather hollow, as if the drum skin wasn’t tensed correctly in the studio. That said, it may just be the sound signature as it appears on other tracks as well. Interestingly, the before mentioned vinyl release doesn’t suffer from this issue, hence why mastering information is important.

Love Is Surrender is a track that I enjoy, but I find the pacing to be out-of-sync with my expectancies of a Carpenters song. However, I love the merging of the song into Maybe It’s You.

Maybe It’s You again highlights the incredible talent of Karen Carpenter. The backing instrumental elements are perfectly suited to the song and it takes you on a beautiful sonic journey. This is one song I would love to hear on vinyl, or high-resolution digital formats, as I swear there is more to the song than the CD is able to expose.

Reason To Believe is the perfect follow up tune to Maybe It’s You. It increases the pace of the album, thereby ensuring Help is a welcome addition to the tracking of the album. While I love The Beatles original version of Help, the Carpenters edition is nothing short of superb. Yes, the world of music is large enough for these two incredible renditions.

Nothing can be said about (They Long To Be) Close To You that hasn’t already been said. It is one of the world’s greatest songs ever recorded. While the Carpenters weren’t the first to record this song, it is their song. Nobody does it better!

Baby It’s You is a harmonic wonderland. Seriously, close your eyes and turn the volume up. Incredible!

I’ll Never Fall In Love Again is another absolute classic by the Carpenters.

Crescent Moon has a moody feel to it and while I enjoy the song, I feel it is disjointed in relation to the artistry that is found throughout the album. It is certainly not a b-side, but I feel that it belongs on another album.

Mr. Guder is wonderfully atmospheric and is highly enjoyable from a vocal delivery perspective. It is certainly uplifting in direct contrast to Crescent Moon. This is one song to just turn up, so you will be completely immersed in the music.  

I Kept On Loving You commences without a break from the previous song and it certainly works with the flow of the album. While Richard Carpenter is the vocalist for this song, his vocals are not nearly as tonally appealing when directly compared to the lyrical style Karen presented on the album, but nevertheless the song is very enjoyable.

Another Song is an enjoyable song, but it feels like a b-side and could have been left off the album.

Overall, Close To You is an exceptional release that any fan of the Carpenters should own, despite the limited appeal of the CD-packaging. That said, hopefully a vinyl re-issue is on the horizon, but as nothing seems to has been done with their catalogue for years, that seems unlikely.

The Carpenters Close To You is available for purchase on CD, iTunes, and the TIDAL Store.

Close To You is also available for streaming on TIDAL Hi-Fi

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Victor Cajiao And Joe Cristina – Surrender (FLAC 16/44.1 Review)

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Victor Cajiao And Joe Cristina – Surrender (FLAC 16/44.1 Review)

Imagine you’re at a big city jazz club. The drinks are flowing. The smell of dinner emanates from the kitchen as you make small talk with your beloved while the band is warming up. There is something special in the air tonight. You surrender yourself to an evening of bliss and know from the first track that you will not come away disappointed.

No, Surrender isn’t a live album, but it is so exceptionally vivid that I swear the musicians are in the room with me. I don’t think I have ever turned up a Jazz record this loud before. Normally, I would sit the volume around 30-35% of max volume, for digital music playback. That produces a sound that I consider full and enveloping on my main system. For this album, however, I pushed that to 50% and had a surreal moment whereby a jazz club oasis appeared before me.

The mastering on Surrender is top notch, hence my ability to push volume levels beyond my normal comfort zone. This is digital done right! While I have mainly listened to, and prefer, the FLAC 16/44.1 files, the mastering quality remains consistent across both the MP3 (320 kbps and VBR) files that are included in the purchase, when you buy the album from CD Baby.

As I listened to the title track Surrender, the first thing that popped into my head was Carlos Santana. It was the vibe, the beat, the electric guitar work merged with an energetic jazz backing track that formed this image. That isn’t to say that the song attempts to be Santana-esk, but if you like Santana, I really believe you will love this track.

11-22 has a Bossa Nova feel to it that reminds me of the Quincy Jones track Se E Tarde Me Pardoa (Forgive Me If I’m Late). I absolutely adore it!

Canto Libre is nothing short of a sonic wonderland. The stereo imaging is amazing. This song is literally one that will encourage you to close your eyes as the music paints a picture in your subconscious. Interestingly, I was initially torn regarding the inclusion of harmonic-styled vocals. While the vocals don’t detract from the song, I felt the song didn’t need them. However, when I listened to the song via headphones, rather than loudspeakers, this perception changed. Music truly tells a story and sometimes the intimate nature of headphones allows that story to be told and appreciated differently.

Dubai Dream has a compelling beat that will get your foot tapping and head swaying from the first note. The saxophone work within this track is gorgeously restrained. I love the saxophone as an instrument but, just like the electric guitar, it can be overemphasised. That is certainly not the case on this track. I could honestly listen to Dubai Dream on repeat for hours.

Manolo is a beautiful track, but I find that the chime elements distract my mind from the music. While they are atmospheric and not harsh, they are sometimes unexpected. I feel my listening mind moving around the soundstage a little too much, not really quite sure of where I should be concentrating. That all said, I find that as they song progresses, this becomes less problematic. 

Light This Candle is a beautiful song, with Christina Clifford on vocals. Clifford has a lovely jazz-style vocal, but I find there is a little sibilance in her vocals. As I’ve mentioned in many of my other reviews, if you’re not familiar with sibilance, ignore this comment and don’t look into it as once you know what to listen for, it can become rather distracting.

If you like the piano and saxophone, then you have to listen to Tu También. It is such a beautiful track and one of my favourites on the album. When I undertake reviews, I generally have a notepad to jot down thoughts as I’m listening. My note for this song was: sax on track 7 = YEAH!

Through The Dark Night/The Lamp is a rather upbeat track and I can’t help but wonder if it shouldn’t have been tracked before Tu También. It is only that Tu También is more mellow and subjectively I feel it would have been the perfect track to end the album on. Nevertheless, Through The Dark Night/The Lamp has some beautiful guitar work and the vocals are lovely. However, I would like the vocals to be a little more forward as there are moments when I feel they get lost in the accompanying musical elements, especially during the verses.

Victor and Joe have put together a jazz album that not only shows a deep appreciation of the genre, but also proves that a lifelong friendship and collaboration can produce an album that will be enjoyed by generations of jazz lovers. It is certainly a valued addition to my own jazz collection.

That said, it would be amiss of me to not acknowledge the remarkable line-up of highly skilled and respected musicians who have appeared on this album. This is a recording that each and every one of them can be proud of.

From a non-musical perspective, Nikki Starwalker’s album artwork, Dream Oty's Memory is exceptional and visually represents the feeling of the album.

Surrender will undoubtedly appeal to any jazz fan, but remains accessible to a wider audience. You can purchase your copy from the following online retailers: CD Baby, TIDAL Store, iTunes, and Amazon.

The album is also available for streaming on TIDAL Hi-Fi.

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Sophia Pfister – Self-Titled EP (Vinyl Review)

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Sophia Pfister – Self-Titled EP (Vinyl Review)

Last month I had the privilege of reviewing Sophia Pfister’s debut EP on TIDAL Hi-Fi. While I was blown away with the mastering, nothing could have prepared me for the sonic wonderland that is contained within the grooves of the vinyl record. Well, that isn’t entirely true as Sophia did mention to me that “it sounds way better on vinyl! It's mixed and mastered slightly different, you'll hear!”

You may recall that I wasn’t fond of the Banjo presence, on the track Sugardaddy, as I felt it was too jarring for my sensitive ears. That is no longer the case. The mastering on the vinyl release mixes the Banjo elegantly with other instrumental elements and Sophia’s incredible vocals.

What this proves is that mastering does matter. Sadly, that isn’t always the case as many ‘new’ vinyl releases are simply cut from the same digital source and arguably sound terrible. Hence, I won’t be getting rid of TIDAL Hi-Fi anytime soon as it is simply too compelling to have a CD-store in my home.

The vinyl pressing of Sophia’s EP has a soundstage that is massive, fat, and creamy; just like vinyl should be. Sophia’s vocals are even smoother than on the TIDAL Hi-Fi edition.

How is that even possible?

Yes, vinyl is the king of sonic quality when mastered and pressed to the highest standards. Although, I have to ask myself, when an independent artist can produce a record this good, why can’t the big record labels?

The EP certainly highlights the capabilities of my Pro-Ject Debut Carbon and Ortofon OM20 needle. While my setup and collection is on the modest end of the audiophile spectrum, this EP is right up there with the best pressing in my collection; Dire Straits – Brothers In Arms (Mo-Fi Edition). The pressing, of Sophia’s EP, is about as silent as vinyl can get, with very little of the normal noise that is associated with the medium. Tom Weir of Studio City Sound did an incredible job mastering this EP. I’ll have to watch out for other albums that he has had a role in.

When the record arrived I was ecstatic. In-fact, it nearly didn’t arrive as it was delivered to my neighbour’s home by accident. Thankfully, they are honest people and I can’t thank them enough for ensuring the record was delivered safely.

As I carefully opened the box, the first thing I noticed was a little message of Thank You! written on the inner flap. Record collectors will understand, that’s just cool and something that adds that little special element to one’s collection, especially considering the addressing of the package was also personally written by Sophia. Yes, this slightly crazy collector will be keeping the mailing box!

Taking the record out of the carefully packed bubble wrap outlay, my next surprise was that Sophia had signed the rear album cover. I had a grin from ear to ear as this was such a wonderful surprise. I actually didn’t read that these were signed copies when I made the purchase, hence my surprise. I love collecting signed copies of albums, but what makes this album so special is that not only was the record sleeve signed, but Sophia also wrote a personalized short message on the inner sleeve. Let’s just say I was on cloud number nine.

BTW: if you want your own copy of the vinyl EP, you’d better hurry as there are only 29 left as I publish this article. Given the sonic improvement over the that of TIDAL Hi-Fi, and my love of the EP, I may just have to buy a second copy for myself as I fear this one will be worn out from repeat plays.

If vinyl isn’t your thing, remember that you can purchase the EP in CD-quality FLAC on the TIDAL Store or on iTunes. The EP is also available for streaming on TIDAL Hi-Fi.

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August Rigo – The Fall Out (Tidal Hi-Fi Review)

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August Rigo – The Fall Out (Tidal Hi-Fi Review)

Thanks to TIDAL’s Discovery section, now merged with TIDAL Rising, I came across August Rigo’s album The Fall Out. Seriously, as a music lover, the CD-store in your home is the perfect way to sample new music and artists that I would have previously overlooked.

When I am interested in listening to a new artist, or album, I generally listen to the first three songs. I feel that is where a stellar song will be, if there is going to be one. The first track off The Fall Out, Versions, was all I needed to know that I wanted to hear more.

The Official Video for the New Single Versions from the Upcoming album The Fall Out SummerChild Records 2015 Manhattan Records 2015 (Japan). Also available on TIDAL.

Versions has an acoustic feel to it and the vocal range that Rigo uses reminds me of Michael Jackson’s work on Thriller. Think Human Nature and The Lady In My Life. Yes, Rigo has acknowledge Jackson as a musical influence, but that isn’t to say that Rigo is trying to imitate Jackson. Rigo has his own style that is smooth, but also raw and gritty. I absolutely love the premise of Versions as it is a love song with a dose of reality.

Keep Me In Your Heart has a dual approach to rhythm and I much prefer the slower aspects of the song as I feel they really highlight Rigo’s vocals. That said, I can appreciate the approach Rigo was going for with this song. One issue that I did find on this track was distortion in the piano/keyboard aspects of the track, especially in the first 10 seconds of the song. Interestingly, this distortion wasn’t as apparent when I was listening to the song via speakers, but it is positively jarring on the ears when listening with headphones. I initially thought that it might be my headphones, but upon doing a series of tests across my various components, I found that it is definitely part of the song. I even went as far as selecting the track at a lower resolution on TIDAL to make sure it wasn’t just an encoding error. Then, I hate to say it, but I turned to YouTube and it is definitely part of the song and most likely Rigo’s artistic style. While the distortion doesn’t cause me to dislike the song, I can imagine that when I’m playing the album in future, I will likely proceed to the next song. I’m not against experimenting with sound, or distorting sound, I just don’t feel it was done well in this particular situation.

Ambulance is sonically appealing with many atmospheric layers that I find enhances the song. This broken heart love song is simply excellent and I love the lyrical aspects of the song. Yes, dear long-time reader, I am finally listening to the lyrics. Interestingly, this song makes me smile and I find the song humorous. I’m sure this wasn’t the intended purpose of the song, but this is Subjective Sounds and that is how I subjectively appreciate the song. Just listen to the chorus and you will know what I mean. Either way, it is a really nice mellow song that you just have to listen to.

Easy To Let Go has a fantastic rhythm and Rigo’s vocal capabilities are highlighted in this song. Unfortunately the distortion in the low end, that is baked into the artistry of the song, is a distraction; especially when compared to Rigo’s smooth vocals. Again, this is only really highlighted on headphones. Whenever I review an album, I always listen to it via loudspeakers and headphones (both over-the-ear and in-ear). This allows me to experience the album differently. That isn’t to say that one is better than the other, but there are differences in sound reproduction, even if you’re using the same DAC/Amplifier combination. The simple fact is that headphones are so close to the ear drum, with little to no ambient noise in-between, ensuring sound waves are not interrupted or dropped off by mere distance from the speaker. This often results in hearing more detail if you have a decent set of headphones. This song has a lot of promise, but I would love to see the track remastered with a cleaner bass track and less vocal distortion.

Honest is your run-of-the-mill pop track, but there is nothing wrong with that as it is an enjoyable listen.

The Fall Out is a song that really highlights Rigo’s unique vocal style. The song has a nice twang about it and my immediate thought was it could be a fantastic country song. However, as a slow pop tune, it is thoroughly enjoyable. I should also note that at the end of the song there is a guitar and bass string that are purposely played out of tune to highlight the lyrical content. It is a perfect way to conclude the track and ensure a symbiosis between the lyrics and music.

I find the song, I Wanna Be Loved, to be rather complex, but I love the complexity. There are a lot of influences here and as I listen I can’t help but think of iconic artist influences such Frank Sinatra, Bob Marley, and Michael Jackson merged into a single song. It is one of my favourite songs on the album.

Official Music Video to "Just Drive" by August Rigo Connect with August Rigo: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AugustRigoMusic Twitter: https://twitter.com/augustrigo Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/augamatic. Also available on TIDAL.

Just Drive is a song that ticks all the boxes for me when it comes to pop music. My body moves, the beat is present but not overbearing, and the vocal delivery is superb.

Why Won’t You Dance With Me is in the same category as Just Drive. Perfect. I love it!

A Mother’s Vow is a beautiful song to end the album on. It is arguably the best track on the entire album. The introduction of the electric guitar and drum beat is perfect and not distracting from Rigo’s lyrical approach and song meaning. Distortion, while present in this track, is used respectfully and in this case enhances the song. Interestingly, at the end of the song, the track continues in silence for about 30 seconds. I’ve no idea why this is the case, but if you have the album on repeat, it does allow a reflective moment before going back to the first track. If that was the artist’s intention, then it certainly makes sense.

Overall, August Rigo’s album The Fall Out is exceptional for an artist that is endeavouring to commence a solo career, having previously been a writer/co-writer for artists that include, but are not limited to, Justin Bieber, One Direction, and Chris Brown.

Rigo has an undeniable talent and while the before mentioned artists are not always on my radar, their collective success speaks volumes and proves that Rigo as a song writer and musician is one to watch in the future.

I can’t wait to hear a new album, hopefully with a little less distortion, but until then The Fall Out will be getting many repeat plays on TIDAL Hi-Fi.

The Fall Out is also available for purchase in CD-quality FLAC on the TIDAL Store. The album is also available on the iTunes Store.

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Frank Sinatra – Songs For Young Lovers (10-inch Vinyl RSD 2015 Review)

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Frank Sinatra – Songs For Young Lovers (10-inch Vinyl RSD 2015 Review)

Frank Sinatra had one of the most recognisable voices in recorded music history. He is the epitome of that ‘easy listening’ area, located within most music stores. Plus, when it comes time to turn down the lights, and enjoy a romantic evening with a significant other, there is no one quite like Sinatra to set the tone.

Songs For Young Lovers is Sinatra’s seventh album and is rather short with a running time of just over 21 minutes. Interestingly, there has been a trend over the last few years where albums are being released with a shorter runtime. Two that I can immediately think of are AC/DC’s Rock Or Bust (34:55) and Rob Zombie’s The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser (31:29). I was initially a little perturbed by this shortening of albums again, but it is growing on me and I find that a shorter runtime is keeping the album tight, with no filler to be seen. This is one reason why I adore Songs For Young Lovers as it plays like it should simply be a greatest hits release. In reflection, I feel the CD with its 74–80-minute runtime was just too long for an album. After listening to an album that maxes out of the capacity of CD, I find that I am often tired by the time it concludes. Whereas a 40-minute album, or less, encourages me to listen to the album again. It is an interesting conundrum, but I do hope with the resurgence of vinyl and the refocus on the song, via streaming services, that we will see less filler-filled albums; for a format need no longer be filled, just because it can be.

Anyway, at the time of Record Store Day 2015 ( RSD 15), my better half was in Europe looking for a gift to buy her beloved, that’s me (she doesn’t read my reviews, so I can pad my ego), to say she was thinking of me. She had asked me if there was anything in particular I would like. It was a shame that she wasn’t travelling to the United States as I would have got her to pick up Neil Young’s Pono music player, but I did make it clear that I wasn’t interested in the regular fridge magnet, fancy spoon, or other dust collecting knickknack. Yes, dear reader, I know what I want, and I’m not afraid to ask for it when questioned on the subject. Sure, I like surprises too, and I did get a couple of those, but as much as consumerism may be essential to modern society, I only want to have the goods and services that I will use. Hence, this is one reason why I generally only link to TIDAL Hi-Fi here at Subjective Sounds, despite most of the albums I discuss being available on other streaming platforms. I know some reviewers out there have numerous subscriptions, but I find that TIDAL’s catalogue is sufficient for my diverse interests. For the few albums that aren’t present on the service, I generally have those in my private collection anyway. Interestingly, the biggest holdout for TIDAL Hi-Fi is Metallica. Given that they supported Neil Young’s Pono, with a limited edition signatured edition, I’m quite surprised that they would not be present on a platform that not only pays a higher royalty, but also offers CD-quality streaming to a significant number of countries. Nevertheless, I have their catalogue on vinyl and CD, plus with the addition of iTunes Match for my own private collection, I have my bases covered.

Now will you look at that, I have written close to 500 words about everything other than Frank Sinatra’s album. Fingers crossed I can get back on track, but don’t quote me on it.

One of the things that intrigued me, when my significant other gifted me this album, was that it came as a 10–inch release. In-fact, it was the first 10–inch vinyl in my collection, so to me it was rather unique. It was also the first time that this album had been reissued on vinyl since the mid 80s and the version I have is the stereo release. The RSD reissue was not released in Mono, however, Vinylogy’s DOL label reissued a Mono release in 2015 that includes additional tracks. It is important to note that as Songs For Young Lovers is no longer in copyright in Europe, Vinylogy’s release is most likely cut from a digital source of unknown origin or mastering quality (possibly a CD). It is almost certain that the original tapes would not have been used. Perhaps a first, or second, generation duplication master tape if we’re lucky. That said, these ‘bootleg’ style pressings from DOL, WaxTime, Vinyl Lovers etc, that I have in my collection, all seem to have a pleasurable sound as well as being incredibly quiet with little to no noticeable noise between the tracks, or throughout the lower volume areas within songs. Even some of the highly regarded vinyl labels don’t achieve this. I guess what I am trying to say is that if you are after a Mono release of the album, you should seriously consider the DOL release. Personally, the stereo edition is adequate as I’ve never quite got into Mono recordings. If anyone can suggest a Mono recording that I should check out, that you believe is superior to the stereo mix, please let me know and I will take a look.

While the RSD 15 edition of Songs For Young Lovers was limited to an odd print run of 2,575 copies, none of them are numbered. Yes, I know a number isn’t everything, but it is something to show off and my kids think it’s cool. When it comes to music appreciation, music loving parents really have to fight to have the music heard in the modern era. Yes, the technologies have been wonderful for music discovery, but let’s just say that YouTube et al has eroded more hours of my life than I care to admit.

What I particularly like about this reissue of Songs For Young Lovers, is Universal Records ensured that this release is as close to a replica of the original as possible. Yes, there are a couple of very minor alterations but original information is presented such as how to store the record and a word about high fidelity vinyl reproduction. From a collector’s point-of-view, I love this additional information as it is nostalgic, as well as informative, of the vinyl production, distribution, and playback processes employed in the 1950s. If only they would include this kind of information/marketing speak on modern releases. I love linear notes that give me something more than who sang and played what, along with the lyrics of the song and the random individuals the artist wishes to thank.

I’ve often read that Songs For Young Lovers is considered to be one of the first concept albums, whereby a theme or story arc continued throughout the entire album. While I’m in no position to disagree, I have always enjoyed a concept album and have held Alice Cooper’s concept releases, such as Welcome To My Nightmare, in the highest regard as they tell an overarching story across the entire album, rather than being random songs from the same genre, as Songs For Young Lovers is. That opinion shouldn’t be viewed as negative, just a different view as to what a concept album is.

Songs presented on this album include:

The lovely playful song My Funny Valentine. It immediately shows off Sinatra’s gorgeous vocal delivery. Honestly, the world has so many amazing vocalists, but as soon as I hear Sinatra, I find that I am just in awe and I honestly don’t believe he had, or has, any peers.

The Girl Next Door is a lovely easy-listening track. Perhaps what I love most is the mix of Sinatra’s vocal with the accompanying musical elements. In this case, as with most of Sinatra’s recordings, his vocal delivery takes pride of place and isn’t drowned out by the music; a very common problem I find with modern recordings.

A Foggy Day is a song that I truly enjoy. The song has a number of slow and fast elements that work perfectly together.

Like Someone In Love has that traditional classic tone that is common in recordings of that era. It isn’t my favourite song on the album, but I don’t think I have ever heard a bad Sinatra song.

I Get A Kick Out Of You is an absolute classic Sinatra song. If you’ve never heard the song before, just take a listen. It is one of the best songs Sinatra ever recorded and it would be in a playlist of my top songs of all time. I love how Sinatra holds onto the lyrics, before ending the specific word. It is unique and has a very jazzy feel.

Little Girl Blue is a letdown after I Get A Kick Out Of You, but it is a lovely relaxing song.

They Can’t Take That Away From Me has a very sultry late night jazz sound. I love it! It is a sing-a-long song that makes you move and smile throughout. The one thing that I find fascinating is how short this song is. That said, it is the perfect length at just under two minutes, but it feels like it should be considerably longer.

Violets For Your Furs isn’t my favourite Sinatra song, but as I eluded to earlier, there really isn’t a bad Sinatra song. It should also be noted that Sinatra sang other people’s songs. Hence, not all songs are equally appealing to his vocal style.

So how does the record sound? Absolutely gorgeous. Warm and smooth with no harshness to be seen. I have also listened to this album on TIDAL Hi-Fi and that edition is akin to a facsimile of the record. Not bad by any means, but just not as dynamically engaging as the record. Plus, the record adds an element of nostalgia to a recording that was released when vinyl reigned supreme. As I listen to the vinyl edition, it sounds like Sinatra is is my living room. Hence, as much as I love TIDAL Hi-Fi, if you can get a copy of this album on vinyl, don’t hesitate as it is significantly more appealing.

Overall, this is a great collection of songs that highlight some of Sinatra’s greatest recordings. If you’re looking to add a little romance to your relationship, you can't go wrong by spinning this album, while you share a glass of wine and a cheese platter with your significant other.

Songs For Young Lovers is available on Vinyl and TIDAL Hi-Fi.

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Sophia Pfister – Self-Titled EP (Tidal Hi-Fi Review)

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Sophia Pfister – Self-Titled EP (Tidal Hi-Fi Review)

Music lovers will appreciate that moment when you find, and add, an exceptional new artist to one’s collection. It is a rare event and is akin to finding a needle in a haystack. Well, I may have just found that needle, thanks to Michael Fremer’s Analog Planet post: Meet Sophia Pfister.

Pfister has one of the most remarkable female voices that I have ever had the privilege of hearing. Amazingly, this EP is her first release and to find such control from a debut, especially from an unsigned artist, is quite a rare occurrence.

I have been listening to the 5-song EP on TIDAL Hi-Fi, over the last couple of weeks, and it has rarely been turned off. I have been so impressed that I intend order the vinyl release that is limited to 200 copies, with only 60 left at the time of writing this review. Memo to self: Order this EP, NOW!

Linked directly from Analog Planet's YouTube channel.

As a singer/songwriter/musician, Pfister is incredibly talented and part of the appeal is in the simplicity of her music. That isn’t to suggest that it isn’t evolved, in-fact it is incredibly deep and complex, but what I find makes the best groove, jazz, folk, and country-styled recordings is keeping the musicality at the forefront of the experience, in which this recording certainly does. For instance, you will sway elegantly with Faded Tatto and tap your foot along with Los Angeles. It is truly difficult to sit still when listening to this EP. I have found that it is a perfect album to listen to on my daily walk. This EP is also mastered beautifully and is not taxing to the listener. It sounds perfect on my main setup and with headphones. Bottom line: I just want more. Seriously, Sophia, the world needs a complete album. However, for now, we need to be satisfied with the EP.

Let’s take a look at the songs:

Los Angeles starts off with a moody beat that I simply adore, before Pfister’s incredibly smooth, yet gritty, vocal kicks in. The song is presented in a spoken-word style that reminds me of Johnny Cash or Lou Reed, but naturally smoother. This style really works for Pfister’s vocals and is a reoccurring style throughout the EP. I can honestly listen to this song on repeat, without tiring of it.

Snakes has a lovely jazzy feel and the inclusion of the wind instruments throughout is perfect. Sonically this song is quite busy, but there is nothing I would remove. While regular readers know that I don’t listen to music specifically from the aspect of song meaning, I’m glad to see that Pfister’s vocals are prominent throughout, except on the track Sugardaddy.

New Mexico takes a slight pop/country shift and shows that Pfister can handle a number of different genres with ease. The chorus in this song is slow toe tapping and head bopping bliss. 

Sugardaddy is probably the only song that I’m not smitten over. I have a love/hate relationship with the banjo. To me, the instrument is a little too jarring and while it doesn’t destroy this song, a levelling down of the banjo tracking, especially during the chorus, would have made it more appealing as I feel Pfister’s vocals and other background instruments are simply overpowered by the banjo.

Voice and Lyrics by Sophia Pfister. Guitar by Mark Fontana. Shot by Joseph Pfister. Recorded by Tom Weir. www.sophiapfister.com

Faded Tatto is harmoniously gorgeous. I love the background instrumental aspects. Subtle, but sonically appealing. It is a perfect song to end the EP on.

This self-titled EP is incredibly soothing and while much of that is to do with Pfister’s beautiful tones, her talent as a musician and song writer cannot be overlooked. Let’s hope we see a full album release in the not too distant future.

Sophia Pfister’s self-titled EP is available for purchase on vinyl and iTunes. It is also available for streaming on TIDAL Hi-Fi.

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