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Sound Check

12/18/2013

cd Leslie HallLeslie Hall

“Songs in the Key of Gold”

Yarn House

I admit to never having “got” Leslie and the Ly’s. I’m probably just old enough to be out of the proper demographic, but Hall’s schtick has always struck me as striving for irony a little too hard. This aesthetic, which was pioneered by YouTube sensations like Hall, is what I like to call “Internet stupid.” But with “Songs in the Key of Gold,” I’ll be damned if she hasn’t made a little magic. The key, clearly, was teaming up with producer Titus Jones, who’s taken Leslie’s most popular tracks and given them all club-heavy remixes. The result is something that finds a sweet spot right between “Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head” and Lady Gaga and comes out with just enough dance pop absurdity to be obscenely fun. With 18 tracks, this party may run a little long, but it’s a stroke of brilliant creativity. CV

 

cd Neil YoungNeil Young

“Live at the Cellar Door”

Reprise

In 1970, Neil Young performed a live show at Washington, D.C.’s Cellar Door. He was a few months removed from “After the Gold Rush” and was arguably at his creative peak. Now, 44 years after the fact, the Cellar Door performance is being re-mastered and given a vinyl/CD release. It’s a gorgeous, intimate look at an American icon in his prime. This isn’t a long-lost bootleg released purely for the hardest-cored Young fans: Young used the show as a rehearsal for his 1970 Carnegie Hall performances, and “Cellar Door” features acoustic versions of hits like “Cinnamon Girl,” as well as the first-ever live performances of “See the Sky About to Rain” and “Old Man.” Performing alone and alternating between the guitar and piano, Young sounds as confident and masterful as you’ve ever heard him. CV

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