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Posted: September 09, 2009

The Boulder Acoustic Society brings ‘Punchline’ to Red Rocks

Plus revisiting the Beatles

Mike Cote

 THE BOULDER ACOUSTIC SOCIETY Punchline (Nile Mile Records)

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OK, so I eventually got around to playing the Boulder Acoustic Society's fine new album -- but I spent a lot of time playing with the packaging first. In the era of digital downloads and vanishing CDs, this young Americana band is bucking the trend with the kind of tactile novelty that collectors love. And if you have young kids expect to share: The casing for Punchline opens up into a stereoscopic 3-D viewer that works like a Viewmaster, complete with several slides of the band.

All that wouldn't amount to much if the music tucked inside the bottom of your new toy didn't live up to that sense of whimsy and magic. Now a foursome following the departure of guitarist Brad Jones, the Boulder Acoustic Society continues exploring gypsy tunes ("We Tried," "Frog Pajama Waltz"), folk ballads ("Until Then," "Take My Hand"), light-hearted pop ("A Life for Two") and the kind of gospel-laced roots music that recalls the Band ("I Feel Like I've Seen You Before"). While bass player Aaron Keim adds guitar and other string instruments to the mix, the emphasis is on Kailin Young's violin and Scott McCormick's accordion and piano. All four members (rounded out by drummer Scott Aller) sing so the vocal chair gets plenty of movement throughout this adventurous collection of songs.

You can catch the Boulder Acoustic Society on Saturday at the Monolith Festival at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. But the band plays frequently around Denver so if you're not the festival type (hint: my twenty-something sons will be hanging out there), look for these guys at your local club.

THE BEATLES Help! and Rubber Soul (Capitol)

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More than 20 years after the Beatles' catalog was released on compact disc, it finally gets a sonic upgrade. When the 14 albums went on sale Wednesday -- coinciding with The Beatles Rock Band video game -- I plucked two of the band's mid-period back-to-back classics from 1965. If you want to hear what difference the remastering job made, check out the hard-rocking "Ticket to Ride" and the gentle acoustic "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" from Help! -- you'll be sure you got your money's worth. Compression technology makes for louder discs, but you won't notice the loss of any subtleties. They sounded powerful and contemporary even in my cursed factory-issue car stereo system.

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The UK version of Help! was originally seven movie soundtrack cuts and an LP side's worth of other material. So Rubber Soul, the band's next disc, would mark its first true classic. "Drive My Car," "Norwegian Wood," "In My Life" and "Girl" never sounded better, especially the flourishes of tamborine and other percussion. It's an odd mix of modern technology meets old-fashioned stereo separation.  The remasters are available as individual discs (with limited edition packaging) or in stereo and mono boxed sets, and each comes with a CD-ROM mini-documentary about the album.

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Mike Cote is the former editor of ColoradoBiz. E-mail him at mcote@cobizmag.com.

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