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Rock - Released October 29, 2020 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Rock - Released October 15, 2020 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Rock - Released October 9, 2020 | Rhino - Warner Records

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Addition by subtraction? A punk band selling out? Audio distortion as an artistic principal? The sound of a boom box cranked up? Where's Bob? The Replacements' Pleased to Meet Me continues to answer all these questions and more. In 1986, like a snake shedding its skin, the Minneapolis foursome parted ways with guitarist Bob Stinson, leaving a trio of his younger brother Tommy on bass, drummer Chris Mars and singer/guitarist Paul Westerberg. Westerberg's poppier, more intimate songs and growing ambitions for success immediately began to transform the band. For their fifth album the threesome ended up at Memphis' Ardent Studios in the capable hands of Jim Dickinson, the producer of Big Star's Third, the pianist heard on The Stones' "Wild Horses," and a collaborator with Bob Dylan and Ry Cooder. Described in the liner notes by friends as a "Southern mad scientist," Dickinson engaged in a psychodrama-mind meld with the band and the result was an album that both band and producer would forever after be known for. Because record labels have come to realize that extras are needed for reissues to succeed, two ideas predominate: demos to show how songs were shaped and unreleased concert material to show how the material matured when played live. First reissued with extra tracks in 2008, Rhino's new Pleased to Meet Me reissue is a deep dive into how the tunes evolved from early demos, through rough mixes, outtakes, alternates and tracks that appeared only as singles to a 2020 remaster of the original album. Of the 55 tracks in this reissue, 29 have never been released before. The early demos from Blackberry Way Studios in Minneapolis—which contain Bob Stinson's last recordings with the band—show that the material had structure and rudimentary arrangements before Memphis. The rough mixes of tunes like "Alex Chilton" by Ardent's John Hampton, have a clattery, spacious ambiance and show how much tightening had yet to be done. Of the rough mixes, "Can't Hardly Wait" is a tick slower than the issued take and Dickinson's rollicking piano part on raucous opener "IOU" is lifted up in the mix. An early digital recording which made extensive use of a Fairlight sampler, the sound of Pleased to Meet Me has always been aggressive and embellished, tarted up with touches like the broken glass in "Shooting Dirty Pool," the opening distortion of "Red Red Wine," and Chris and Tommy's opening laughter, their zombie Greek chorus and the mid tune sax growl in "I Don't Know." The oddball lounge jazz of "Nightclub Jitters" is appropriately atmospheric and cool while the "The Ledge," the album's chosen single has the requisite "big" sound which was then attractive to alternative radio and MTV. Visceral but melodic, tender but defiant, as fierce a rock record now as it was the day it was released, Pleased to Meet Me, still epitomizes what producer Dickinson calls in the liner notes, "recording the feeling in your soul while you're playing." © Robert Baird/Qobuz
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Rock - Released September 25, 2020 | Rhino - Warner Records

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Reissue
Lou Reed, for Gen X at least, was the weird, slightly estranged uncle who could recite French poetry from memory while doing knife tricks with a personalized switchblade. When he came around, things could be exciting and a little uncomfortable, and even though you've never really known him very well, his legend loomed large. New York changed that. It was the first Lou Reed album that Gen X could justifiably claim as their own; released in early 1989, it was really more of a '90s album as it definitively put the '80s in the rearview. The bite of Lou Reed's lyrics was nothing new of course, but the generation coming of age in the late '80s had never had a new Lou album to attach themselves to; New York was released three years after the old-fart-trying-new-things vibes of Mistrial and more than eight years after The Blue Mask, the last Reed album to completely abandon "contemporary" sounds in favor of back-to-basics musicianship, crisp production, and strong, unforgiving lyrics that spoke directly to the spiritual affinities of a cynical generation. From the first notes of "Romeo Had Juliette," Reed's sonic mission was clear: By stripping his band down to two guitars, an electric upright bass, and a simple drum kit (played by co-producer Fred Maher and occasionally augmented with percussion by Mo Tucker), the attention was to be focused on the lyrics. Delivering a clear-eyed assessment of how devastating the '80s had been to the city he was so closely associated with, the lyrics on New York drop the listener into a city that is ravaged by AIDS, proto-gentrification, rampant inequality, and the "Statue of Bigotry," but still in touch with its expansive, egalitarian, no-B.S. heart. While today's ears may flinch at some of the lyrics ("spic" and "homeboys" particularly bristle), ears then flinched too. Reed knew what he was doing by writing plain-spoken and deceptively straightforward verses; by not mincing words and speaking like a "real" New Yorker (as if he had a choice), his astute observational skills and unassailable connection to the city give him both personal and poetic license to tell the intricate, intimate, and intense stories throughout New York. It's debatable whether New York actually needed a remastering—its sharp-edged mix was perfectly suited to a late '80s CD master and already was given plenty of air to breathe by the spare arrangements—but this new mastering does open up the album a bit more, mitigating some of the CD-era sheen while not muting any of Reed's slicing guitar work. The unreleased tracks are a similarly mixed bag, as the material is in various states of completion. "Dirty Blvd," for instance is presented in both a "work tape" that is little more than a riff memo as well as a "rough mix" that presents a meatier, more substantial version than the final album version that manages to somehow put Reed's voice even more in the listener's face. Meanwhile, non-LP track "The Room" is a disappointing, all-guitar instrumental piece that's out of context on such a lyrical album; it winds up sounding like leftover material used in the dissonant coda of "There Is No Time." The live material sounds like one of the all-New York sets that Reed performed around this time, but it is in fact culled from multiple concerts. While completists may balk at this, the final result is a quite strong collection of live performances. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz
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Rock - Released September 24, 2020 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Rock - Released September 18, 2020 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released September 10, 2020 | Rhino - Warner Records

Canada's favorite musical comics the Barenaked Ladies didn't get distressed by the mainstream success of their fifth album, 1998's Stunt. The single "One Week" catapulted the five-piece into the homes of TRL diehards and their self-defined cheeky pop sound captured pop music at its finest. They had only been crafting their freewheeling musical perfection since their inception in the late '80s, so the Barenaked Ladies were about due. Two years later, the boys joined forces with producer Don Was (Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Iggy Pop, Rolling Stones) and delivered yet another merry-making batch of pop songs on Maroon. Ed Robertson and Steven Page split vocal duties and their sparkling honesty of musicianship and friendship once again makes for a spherical delight of humor and grandeur. Barenaked Ladies might not have been distracted by their previous accolades, but Maroon hints at the band's hesitation to refrain from repetition. The lyrical rhymes are typically amusing and the musicianship is colorful and quirky, but first single "Pinch Me" doesn't feel entirely comfortable. A conservative BNL listener would be able to catch the trickling acoustics and thumping basslines, but its head-bopping, toe-tapping excitement is hauntingly similar. But never despair, Maroon does indicate the band's impeccable musical brightness and playful creativity, specifically on songs such as "Falling for the First Time" and "Conventioneers." They toy around with adult responsibility and the fear of conflict with such attractive wit, and the messages are right on. And aside from being intelligently impressive, they twist and turn inside their musical sauciness to pluck at jaunty Americana sounds ("Baby Seat") and frilly bossa nova ("Sell, Sell, Sell"). Barenaked Ladies mold blushing harmonies with loopy guitar hooks -- Maroon is simply charming. It's not outstanding, but the Barenaked Ladies do keep their self-defined whimsicality top-notch. © MacKenzie Wilson /TiVo
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Rock - Released September 2, 2020 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Rock - Released August 28, 2020 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Rock - Released August 7, 2020 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Rock - Released July 16, 2020 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Rock - Released July 16, 2020 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Rock - Released July 16, 2020 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Rock - Released July 16, 2020 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Rock - Released July 16, 2020 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Rock - Released July 16, 2020 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released June 26, 2020 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released November 1, 2019 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Funk - Released October 18, 2019 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Rock - Released September 27, 2019 | Rhino - Warner Records

Hi-Res Distinctions Best New Reissue
Thirty years later, Paul Westerberg and the rest of The Replacements are having another shot at getting their sixth album right on Don’t Tell A Soul Redux. The revamp is part of a new box set, Dead Man's Pop, which also contains a live show and other rare goodies, including additional tracks from a session with Tom Waits and earlier, scrapped tracks recorded at Bearsville Studios. For the Redux mix, Matt Wallace, who originally co-produced Don't Tell a Soul along with the band, used a mix recorded during the 1988 Paisley Park sessions as source material. As might be expected, the polarizing late-'80s gloss is gone, replaced by a clearer, lively sonic approach with plenty of nuance: Acoustic guitars are more prominent throughout, and individual parts within songs (a blazing guitar line here, a crashing piano part there) are evident. This clarity also revealed that Don't Tell a Soul continued to build on Pleased To Meet Me's diversity; songs encompass a whimsical soul-pop shuffle ("Asking Me Lies"), an R.E.M.-esque anthem ("Darlin' One" and its towering, droning guitars) and swaggering Americana ("We'll Inherit the Earth"). In perhaps the boldest move of all, Don't Tell a Soul's tracklisting is completely shuffled around on the new version, with only leadoff track "Talent Show" and "We'll Inherit the Earth" in slot three maintaining their original positions. This sequencing tweak is brilliant, as the album now boasts a poignant emotional arc that starts with anxiety over band and career matters and ends with piercing personal confessions. © Annie Zaleski / Qobuz