Music » Album Reviews

Notable live albums, physical and virtual



Live albums seem to be vanishing artifacts in the streaming age, but interesting ones still pop up, though not always in CD or LP formats. The lushest production belongs to New Order and Liam Gillick. So It Goes… (TRAFFIC/Mute) is a sprawling, two-disc set melding New Order’s dance sounds with an orchestra of synthesizers. The effort is weighty but sometimes seems listless, though when Bernard Sumner breaks into the band’s biggest hits, like “Bizarre Love Triangle,” the magic returns.

On the opposite production end is The Empty Pockets’ Live in Seattle (MT Pockets Music), where the Chicago folk-rock foursome offers up seven unadorned, beautiful songs spotlighting the harmonies of Erika Brett and Josh Solomon.

It’s a mystery why Matador Records didn’t offer physical copies of Car Seat Headrest’s Commit Yourself Completely, though the MP3 and streaming tracks from the 2018 tour highlight why Will Toledo is considered an incomparable songwriter. It was six months before CDs of The Accidentals Live (Accidentals Music) appeared. It’s only “live” in the sense that single studio takes generated seven originals and three covers, but it’s a fresh appetizer prior to an anticipated 2020 studio album — assuming the new work will be available in a physical format.

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