By Jake Shenker
Phish – Joy (JEMP Records)
With this summer’s inundation of 90s band comeback albums — some surprisingly excellent, many predictably forgettable — how could New England jam band Phish be left out of the equation? After a five-year hiatus – initially considered a full-fledged break-up — Phish have treated us to Joy, their newest studio album, along with a lengthy summer tour to promote it. While on first listen Joy sounds like a natural progression from where the band left off, subsequent hearings reveal the true nature of this 10-track opus: Joy is a review of Phish’s entire career, compressing their 25-year musical progression into one flawless set of songs. Album opener “Backwards Down the Number Line” takes a cue from 2000’s Farmhouse; “Kill Devil Falls” is reminiscent of Story of the Ghost’s “Birds of a Feather;” the latter half of “Light” plays like an updated “Bouncing Around the Room.” The unexpected focus of this relatively short disc is partly due to producer Steve Lillywhite, who ensured that Phish’s 5-year hiatus would not leave the band sounding scattered. With a perfectly apropos title, Joy is the product of an impeccably synchronized quartet at their best. Welcome back!
The Beatles’ Remastered Catalogue (EMI)
A refresh of the Beatles’ compact-disc catalogue has been on every fan’s wish list since it was initially released on lousy sounding CDs in 1987. An event several years in the making, September 9 will mark the release of The Beatles in Stereo and The Beatles in Mono, two box-sets containing the entire digitally-remastered catalogue in your desired format. If you’re any kind of fan, you’ve been following the avalanche of reviews hitting the web since June, so I’ll be brief: this release is good. Very good. Old favourites shine with astounding clarity, revealing detail that was lost in the previous format. Vocals sound crisp, bass and drums sharp, and layered instrumentation unambiguous. If you ever needed a reason to listen to more of the Beatles, this is it.