The SoundBard’s Top 25 Albums of 2013

Posted on December 31st, by Mike Mettler in Odds & Sods. 6 comments


Damn the naysayers — I say the album format lives! With that vital declaration out of the way, it’s high time to cite the records that caught hold of my expert ear over the past 12 months — the full-length discs and/or LPs I consider most worthy of purchase, hi-res download, and/or dropping the needle on! Here, in reverse order, are my favorite 25 albums of 2013. Happy spinning!

25. Jim James: Regions of Light and Sound of God. Mind-/soul-/ear-expanding. Amen, J-man.

24. Kings of Leon: Mechanical Bull. Cojones-shaking rawk.

23. Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs: Under the Covers, Vol. 3. Sid and Susie give the ’80s a deep, loving soul kiss. Read my interview with Sid and Susie here.

22. The Rides: Can’t Get Enough. Super Session, Millennial Style: Stephen Stills, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Barry Goldberg burn on down the … Read More »

The SoundBard’s Top 25 Songs of 2013

Posted on December 31st, by Mike Mettler in Odds & Sods. No Comments


It’s that time of year: Time to cite the tunes that caught hold of my expert ear over the past 12 months — the ones I consider most worthy of purchase, hi-res download, and/or dropping the needle on at 45 rpm! Here, in reverse order, are my favorite 25 songs of 2013. Happy listening!

25. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts: “Any Weather.” Forecast calls for her continued reign. Co-meteorologized with Foomaster Dave Grohl.

24. U2: “Ordinary Love.” As in, “Extra-” and “This Is No.” And Mandela smiles from The Great Beyond.

23. Michael Monroe: “Ballad of the Lower East Side.” Punkin’-A NYC luv letter. Sneer perfection.

22. Baby Woodrose: “Bubblegum.” Flip your tongue like… super-chewy Euro-garage pop!

21. Palmyra Delran: “Some Day Soon.” Hopeful, wistful, wonderful: Yes, please. Stick it out — rewards ahead.

20. Radio Days: “Love and Fun.” Beach-blanket underground-pop rabble-rouser.

19. Charles … Read More »

Slidin’ Onto Wax: Guitar Prodigy Derek Trucks Spins LPs Wherever He May Roam

Posted on December 20th, by Mike Mettler in The SoundBard Interview. 4 comments


“That’s the cartridge you want — the one that’ll get you kicked out of the house!” And that’s Derek Trucks, empathizing over the price of high-end audiophile gear, both in terms of how it affects your wallet and your personal life. “I’ve had that conversation too,” he adds with a chuckle. The good-natured Trucks drenched his sweet-toned slide-guitar stamp all over one of 2013’s best albums, the Tedeschi Trucks Band’s Made Up Mind (Masterworks; you can read my 4 1/2-star review of it in the Discs & Downloads section on the Sound & Vision website.) Here, Trucks, 34, and I commune over his favorite gear and LPs, the albums that made the deepest impressions on him growing up, how good Mind sounds on vinyl, and its thematic album parallel. (Hint: “Darling, won’t you ease my worried mind” is … Read More »

The Healing Hands of Musical Love: Justified’s Walton Goggins and His Sharp Storyteller’s Ear

Posted on December 17th, by Mike Mettler in The SoundBard Interview. No Comments


“For me personally, I like the singer/songwriters who tell stories,” says Walton Goggins, and if anyone knows how to get into a character and tell a story and tell it damn well, it’s him. In Season 4 of Justified, out now on Blu-ray, Goggins’s character, the perpetually morally challenged Boyd Crowder, found redemption in the arms of love — specifically with the feisty and unbendingly loyal Eva Crowder (Joelle Carter). But Boyd also found that such deep love can come at a terrible price. Hmmm… that scenario sounds like a few lines pulled straight out of a U2 song or two, doesn’t it? And that’s quite fitting, since, according to Goggins, one of the iconic Irish band’s albums “changed my life.” Earlier this year, Goggins and I discussed things like shooting in high-def, long-term character development, and his … Read More »

Holiday Gift Guide Special: 108 Rock Star Guitars to Riff & Roll on Your Coffee Table

Posted on December 12th, by Mike Mettler in Turn the Page. No Comments


“Nothing moves me like the sound of a guitar.” It’s the opening sentence to author Lisa S. Johnson’s passionate introduction to 108 Rock Star Guitars (Glitterati Incorporated), her lavishly photographed and beautifully bound ode to a score of axes ‘n planks that have created some of the most indelible sounds in our lifetime, and I swear I could have written that line myself. I was enamored with guitars even before I learned how to form the chords that open Yes’ “Roundabout” on a no-name acoustic in a junior high school guitar class, and to this day my attention is rapt whenever I hear certain riffs or see guitar wizards both budding and seasoned practicing their own special brands of fretboard magic live.

108 Rock Star Guitars captures many of those jamtastic fretboard-induced feelings between its covers, so if you’re … Read More »

The Once and Future Analog King: Boston’s Tom Scholz and the Tales of His Sacred Tapes

Posted on December 5th, by Mike Mettler in The SoundBard Interview. 8 comments


“Pretty much everything that goes into the music is as analog as I can make it,” says Tom Scholz, chief sonic architect of the longtime rock powerhouse known as Boston. It’s taken him 10 years to deliver the band’s sixth studio album, Life, Love & Hope (Frontiers) — “But who’s counting?” he chuckles — and discerning audiophiles know it’s well worth the wait. Signature stacked harmonies, lovingly layered guitars, emotionally uplifting vocals, sheaves of killer riffs — what’s not to like? (And, yes, Virginia, there will be vinyl, sometime in early 2014.) “All I can say is the tone, the sound, and the way it’s all put together is the way I like it,” Scholz admits. “And I’m just lucky there are other people who like the same things I do.”

Scholz, 66, and I have spoken a few … Read More »