Editors' Choice

Selections for

February 2017

Colliding by Design
Rise Records
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The Seattle quintet return after a decade away with a sparkling, urgent sophomore set that incorporates arena pop/rock into their original emo sound.
- Neil Z. Yeung
Mahler: Symphony No. 7
CAvi-music
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Adam Fischer launches a Mahler cycle with the Düsseldorf Symphony, delivering a compelling performance of the Symphony No. 7.
- Blair Sanderson
Piano Music of Cuba
Steinway & Sons
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An album of fascinating music and of interest far beyond the circle of Latin American classical music fans.
- James Manheim
Windy City
Capitol / Decca
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A vocal showcase for the great bluegrass fiddler, in which she sings polished but satisfying versions of countrypolitan classics.
- Mark Deming
Zombies on Broadway
Vanguard
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A gleaming, electro-inflected modern pop production that nevertheless stays true to McMahon's signatures.
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine
The Definitive Collection
Real Gone Music
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Thirty-song collection features the highlights of the star's RCA recordings of the '60s, including rare and unreleased tracks.
- Mark Deming
Inner Lights
Genuin
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Flutist Barbara Kortmann's debut recording on Genuin presents delightful works by Vivaldi, Marais, Handel, J.S. Bach, and C.P.E. Bach.
- Blair Sanderson
Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade
Philharmonia Records
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Fabio Luisi leads the Philharmonia Zürich in an evocative performance of Rimsky-Korsakov's symphonic suite, Scheherazade.
- Blair Sanderson
Mahler: Symphonie Nr. 3
BR Klassik
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Bernard Haitink conducts the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in his third recording of Mahler's Third Symphony.
- Blair Sanderson
No Home of the Mind
4AD
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David Moore's post-minimalist ensemble, now down to five members, move to 4AD for their excellent third full-length.
- Paul Simpson
Heavy Fire
Nuclear Blast
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The post-Thin Lizzy unit's third studio outing invokes the heyday of late-'70s/early-'80s classic rock without falling victim to nostalgia.
- James Christopher Monger
Over the Rainbow
Sunnyside / Sunnyside Communications
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An elegant, deeply felt solo piano album featuring some of Dominguez's most beloved American and Latin American standards.
- Matt Collar
Freedom Is Free
ATO
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This L.A. band's third album is a smart, joyous exercise in multi-cultural psychedelic funk with both groove and purpose.
- Mark Deming
Daylight Ghosts
ECM
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An engaging, experimental quartet date from the pianist with Chris Speed, Chris Lightcap, and the Bad Plus' Dave King.
- Matt Collar
Crystal Fairy
Ipecac
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The debut album from the alt-sludge supergroup featuring members of the Melvins, At the Drive-In, and Le Butcherettes will eat your face off.
- James Christopher Monger
Bruises
Nettwerk
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Soul-baring sophomore solo set from the Utah singer/songwriter who elevates her voice with gorgeous orchestral accompaniment.
- Neil Z. Yeung
J.S. Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier I & II
CAvi-music
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Dina Ugorskaja presents the Well-Tempered Clavier on piano with a variety of expressions and subtle gradations of touch and dynamics.
- Blair Sanderson
Dirty Projectors
Domino
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David Longstreth crafts a breakup album all his own, diving deep into electronics as he bares his broken heart to the world.
- Mark Deming
Sincerely
Hardly Art
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The band's excellent second album is packed with smile-inducing pop songs, wall-shaking rockers, and a strong Weezer influence.
- Tim Sendra
Book of Changes
Thrill Jockey
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After a decade away, Guy Blakeslee returns to his solo moniker with expressive, more expansive indie folk-pop and a focus on songcraft.
- Marcy Donelson
Solide Mirage
Domino
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The vibrant French indie pop outfit's third release for Domino is underscored by elements of socially conscious tension.
- Timothy Monger
Strauss: Tondichtungen 5 - Metamorphosen, Symphonia domestica
SWR Music
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François-Xavier Roth and the SWR Sinfonieorchester present two contrasting tone poems of Richard Strauss, Symphonia domestica, and Metamorphosen.
- Blair Sanderson
Enter the Kingdom
Loose Music
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The Michigan-based band's fifth album adds a bit more indie pop to their literate and heartfelt folk-rock formula.
- Mark Deming
Outside (Briefly)
Wichita
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The quartet's dreamy shoegaze sound comes together in constantly surprising, always thrilling fashion on their third album.
- Tim Sendra
Telemann
Alpha
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Giovanni Antonini and Il Giardino Armonico present a program of music featuring the recorder and the seldom-heard chalumeau.
- Blair Sanderson
Chalice Hymnal
Temporary Residence
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Incorporating new influences and more grandiose arrangements, Grails create some of their most cinematic work yet on their first album since 2011.
- Paul Simpson
Last Place
30th Century Records / Columbia / Sony Music
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After a decade off making albums under his own name, Jason Lytle returns to the Grandaddy name for a very Grandaddy set of tunes.
- Tim Sendra
Savage Times
Innovative Leisure
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The blues-punk eccentric goes bananas on this sprawling LP culled from a series of 2016 EPs.
- Timothy Monger
Mozart: Complete Violin Concertos
Harmonia Mundi
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Isabelle Faust joins the period ensemble Il Giardino Armonico in this historically informed set of Mozart's five violin concertos.
- Blair Sanderson
Bruckner: Symphony No. 2, 1872 Version
Oehms Classics
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Ivor Bolton and the Mozarteumorchester Salzburg perform Bruckner's Symphony No. 2 in the original 1872 version.
- Blair Sanderson
Memories Are Now
Sub Pop
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Featuring production by Blake Mills, the songwriter's solo debut for Sub Pop is a sparse and captivating expression of empowerment.
- Marcy Donelson
Johann Sebastian Bach: Works for Lute
Hänssler Classic
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Bach's works for lute receive vibrant performances by guitarist Johannes Monno, who has wanted to record them since childhood.
- Blair Sanderson
Ligeti: Piano Concerto; Cello Concerto; Chamber Concerto; Melodien
BIS
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The Norwegian BIT20 Ensemble explores the innovative ideas in György Ligeti's experimental concertos on this BIS release.
- Blair Sanderson
Drunken Songs
Head Heritage
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U.K. eccentric Julian Cope reclaims his whimsy and melodicism on this pleasing set of drinking songs.
- Timothy Monger
Headnod Suite
Stones Throw
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Second delightfully distorted batch of crate-digging finds from the accomplished drummer and producer.
- Andy Kellman
Flying Microtonal Banana
ATO
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Using microtuned instruments and Turkish horns, the psychedelic explorers stake out new territory in an exciting, inspiring fashion.
- Tim Sendra
Anti-Hero
Motéma Music
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The ninth album of genre-bending, instrumental post-jazz from the exploratory quintet.
- Matt Collar
Celestial Vibration
Soul Jazz
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Originally released in 1978, the debut album from Laraaji (Edward Larry Gordon) is just as powerful and fascinating as any of his subsequent works.
- Paul Simpson
Ravel: Orchestral Works, Vol. 4 - Daphnis et Chloé
Naxos
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Leonard Slatkin continues his series of the orchestral music of Maurice Ravel with Daphnis et Chloé and Une barque sur l'océan.
- Blair Sanderson
The  Breaker
Capitol / Decca
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Little Big Town doubles down on Southern Californian soft rock on The Breaker.
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Circle/Triangle
True Panther Sounds
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The producer's debut album transforms suburban boredom into freewheeling, heartfelt songs that blur the boundaries between R&B, chillwave, and rap.
- Heather Phares
Sensorimotor
Ghostly International
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The electronic pop auteur deftly pairs sensory lushness with disorienting manipulations on this strong release.
- Timothy Monger
Strauss: Eine Alpensinfonie; Tod und Verklärung
BR Klassik
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Mariss Jansons presents two of Richard Strauss' most compelling tone poems, An Alpine Symphony and Death and Transfiguration.
- Blair Sanderson
The Incessant
SideOneDummy
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The intense Chicago post-punks' Steve Albini-produced third outing is desperate and cathartic.
- Timothy Monger
Alice
In the Red Records
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A grungy, powerful, and hooky thrill ride of an album anchored by proto-metal guitars and a pounding rhythm section.
- Tim Sendra
Metamorfosi Trecento
Alpha
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This collection of late medieval music of the Ars Nova is performed by Michele Pasotti and La Fonte Musica.
- Blair Sanderson
Tipico
Miel Music
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A sophisticated, kinetic, and deeply poetic quartet session from the acclaimed Puerto Rican saxophonist.
- Matt Collar
Undying Color
Paradise of Bachelors
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Jaime Fennelly's cosmic synth-drone project makes an unexpected but fitting move to Americana label Paradise of Bachelors.
- Paul Simpson
Change of State
Sinderlyn
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The psych-pop band's second album was recorded on an old eight-track machine, making for a compact but no less impressive sound.
- Tim Sendra
A Pink Sunset for No One
Fire Records
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Sarah Lipstate continues to push her otherworldly guitar drone sound in new directions with her eighth solo album as Noveller.
- Paul Simpson
Graveyard Whistling
ATO
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The Texas alt-country veterans sound a bit darker and more contemplative on their 11th studio album, but as engaged as ever.
- Mark Deming
The Grinding Wheel
Nuclear Blast
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The New Jersey thrash legends' 18th full-length outing snaps necks with impunity, but it does so with structural inventiveness.
- James Christopher Monger
Microclimate
Volcanic Field
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Italian-born bedroom pop auteur Mauro Remiddi's third outing splits the difference between heady chillwave and Scandinavian pop grandeur.
- James Christopher Monger
Crack an Egg
Castle Face
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Jumpy and exciting retro '80s synth rock, delivered with newfound power and lots of hooks.
- Tim Sendra
My Foolish Heart
ECM
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A warmly delivered set of solo jazz and classical guitar from the virtuoso performer.
- Matt Collar
Freedom Highway
Nonesuch
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Rhiannon Giddens digs deep into American folklore on her second album.
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Got Soul [LP]
Masterworks
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Fifth studio album from the fiery pedal steel player is another potent exercise in soul, funk, and gospel that raises the roof.
- Mark Deming
Heavy Meta
New West
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Former Toy Soldiers frontman reinvents himself as a scrappy, literate garage-punk troubadour with this album.
- Mark Deming
Process
Young Turks
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Stirring first album from a singular do-it-all who has worked with Drake, Beyoncé, Kanye, and Solange.
- Andy Kellman
Man vs. Sofa
On U Sounds
Dub
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Two pioneers of U.K. bass music culture team up for their second full-length, a truly remarkable album of tense, heavy, futuristic dub.
- Paul Simpson
Burning the Threshold
Drag City
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Ben Chasny returns to more traditional song structures on this pastoral folk-based LP.
- Timothy Monger
Pleasure
PLZ
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Casting aside the calm craftsmanship of previous albums, Lerche dives head-first into synth-driven, '80s-damaged pop and comes up with a pearl.
- Tim Sendra
William Bolcom: Piano Rags
Steinway & Sons
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Myer rightly makes these into concert works, not showboat nostalgia; this is an essential item for ragtime collections.
- James Manheim
The Deep Set
Flying Nun
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The ageless New Zealanders sound as good and jangly as ever, even after being in a band together since 1982.
- Tim Sendra
The Courtneys II
Flying Nun
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The fuzzed-out Vancouver trio delivers a melodic win on its Flying Nun debut.
- Timothy Monger
From Broadway to Blazes
Manufactured Recordings
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Rip-roaring collection of punk nuggets and power pop gems from this forgotten late-'70s Australian band.
- Tim Sendra
After the Party
Epitaph
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The Pennsylvanian punks deepen their self-ruminations on their big-hearted fifth LP.
- Timothy Monger
Happy Birthday to Me [Bonus Tracks]
Omnivore
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Kim Shattuck and Company sound tighter, harder, and just as much fun on this reissue their third album.
- Mark Deming
Chew
Trouble in Mind
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The Nashville trio's third album is a crazy quilt of sounds and styles all filtered through their psychedelic pop sensibilities.
- Tim Sendra
Northern Passages
Yep Roc
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The tenth album from celebrated Canadian indie roots rockers is full of mystery, drama, and great guitar work.
- Mark Deming
Liszt: 15 Songs
BIS
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Timothy Fallon sings some of the less familiar Lieder of Franz Liszt, who composed songs throughout his career.
- Blair Sanderson
Elwan
Epitaph
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Exiled from their Saharan home, the Tuareg guitar seekers deliver an album full of tension and beauty.
- Timothy Monger
Polychrome: Prokofiev, Strauss, Ravel
Alpha
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Tobias Feldmann's Polychrome explores the palette of sonorities and techniques in three contrasting violin sonatas by Ravel, Prokofiev, and Strauss.
- Blair Sanderson
Philip Glass: Piano Works
Deutsche Grammophon
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This is a very fine Glass recording, beautifully engineered.
- James Manheim
Moh Lhean
Joyful Noise
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LP six by Yoni Wolf's style-bending indie project is more reflective in tone but still provides a creative burst of sound and stylized observation.
- Marcy Donelson
Boris Tishchenko: Symphony No. 8
Naxos
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Yuri Serov leads the St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra in orchestral and vocal works by Shostakovich protege Boris Tishchenko.
- Blair Sanderson