Editors' Choice

Selections for

April 2017

Canyons of My Mind
New West
AllMusic
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Dexterously weaves together the warmth of classic '70s singer/songwriters like Ian Matthews and Don McLean with the cordial indie folk-rock of the Avett Brothers.
- James Christopher Monger
Arca
XL
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The producer incorporates his voice into his third album, with striking and often beautiful results.
- Heather Phares
Ladies and Gentlemen: Barenaked Ladies & the Persuasions
Raisin' Records
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A warm, ebullient collaboration between the Canadian pop outfit and the longtime New York a cappella R&B ensemble.
- Matt Collar
This Is My Town: Songs of New York
Decca / Verve
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A glitzy and heartfelt tribute to Barry Manilow's hometown.
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Bach: Goldberg Variations
Warner Classics
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Rana notches a substantial success and bears out the predictions of those who tout her as a major star.
- James Manheim
Timeless: The All-Time Greatest Hits
Capitol
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From 1966 to 1979, the brothers Gibb ruled the charts and created a legacy of brilliant pop music; the best of it is collected here.
- Tim Sendra
Volume 1
Dualtone Music
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Indie rock meeting of the minds called to order by Midlake's Eric Pulido, featuring members of Franz Ferdinand, Band of Horses, and Travis.
- Tim Sendra
Let the Dancers Inherit the Party
Caroline
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A smart, witty, and engaging exercise in U.K.-style indie rock that's one of this band's most purely enjoyable efforts to date.
- Mark Deming
Lucrezia Borgia's Daughter: Princess, nun and musician
Obsidian Records
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Princess, nun, musician, and the daughter of Lucrezia Borgia, Leonora d'Este may have composed the motets presented on this 2017 Obsidian release.
- Blair Sanderson
Beginning of Things
Warner Bros.
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A cool, soulful, and funny breakthrough from the country singer/songwriter.
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine
The Dreamer Is the Dream
ECM / Verve
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The saxophonist's third leader disc for ECM showcases the considerable rhythmic invention -- and muscle -- of his quartet.
- Thom Jurek
Death Peak
Warp
IDM
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Clark's vibrant eighth album is also one of his most eclectic, spanning dance and choral influences on tracks that range from playful to political.
- Heather Phares
All This I Do for Glory
52hz
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On his return to live-in-the-studio, warts-and-all solo recording, the saxophonist/composer delivers a percussive, airy, emotionally resonant album.
- Thom Jurek
The Afternoons
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The band's second album strips down the sound and ups the slacker quotient, while Jordan Corso's songs remain very sweet and quirky.
- Tim Sendra
Swear I'm Good at This
Frenchkiss Records
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A brief debut that nonetheless bursts with personality.
- Liam Martin
Pure Comedy
Sub Pop
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Father John Misty streamlines and expands his music on this grand, comical album.
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Banishing Ritual
Upset the Rhythm
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Poppy, energetic, and deceptively simple noise punk from a London-based trio that includes a member of Sauna Youth.
- Tim Sendra
Pleasure
Interscope / Polydor
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Feist returns after a six-year hiatus with a bold work of raw production and disarming honesty.
- Bekki Bemrose
Fujiya & Miyagi
Impossible Objects of Desire
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The sixth LP by the Krautrock/post-punk aficionados sounds reinvigorated by a new rhythm section.
- Marcy Donelson
Narkopop
Gas
Kompakt
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Seventeen years after Pop, Wolfgang Voigt's revered ambient techno project Gas makes its triumphant return with the lush, hypnotic Narkopop.
- Paul Simpson
Humanz [Deluxe]
Parlophone / Warner Bros.
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Damon Albarn emphasizes R&B and hip-hop and returns to the collaborative instincts that drove the first two Gorillaz records.
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Mozart, Rachmaninov: Concertos & "A Conversation That Never Was"
Deutsche Grammophon
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This is a landmark performance in the grand Russian tradition.
- James Manheim
August by Cake
Guided by Voices
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Robert Pollard introduces a new lineup of his venerable indie pop band on one of their most lively albums in years.
- Mark Deming
Write In
Bar/None Records
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The English trio gets a little more serious on LP two, which offers an offbeat blend of '90s jangle, British Invasion, and dreamy guitar pop.
- Marcy Donelson
Lully: Persée 1770
Alpha
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Hervé Niquet and Le Concert Spirituel present a re-creation of Lully's Persée, as it was performed in 1770 for Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
- Blair Sanderson
Liszt & Wagner
Chandos
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The influence of Franz Liszt on the music of Richard Wagner is explored on this 2017 Chandos release by Imogen Cooper.
- Blair Sanderson
Liszt/Tausig: Faust Symphony
Hungaroton
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István Lajkó delivers the world premiere recording of Carl Tausig's piano transcription of Liszt's Faust Symphony.
- Blair Sanderson
Charles Ives: Orchestral Works, Vol. 3 - Symphony No. 3 "The Camp Meeting"; Symphony No. 4; Orchestral Set No. 2
Chandos
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Sir Andrew Davis and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra round out their Ives cycle in superb form.
- James Manheim
Country Hustle
City Country City / Inkind
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The Wales-dwelling singer/songwriter collaborates with Andrew Hale, Distance, St. Francis Hotel, and Ben Lamdin to deliver his most ambitious set to date.
- Thom Jurek
Here on Earth
The Royal Potato / Royal Potato Family Records
AllMusic
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The violinist's brief, evocative fiddle tunes hark back to the Great Depression years in the Piedmont region.
- Dave Lynch
Flowers: Beautiful Life, Vol. 2
Mack Avenue
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An ebullient, rhythmically vibrant second volume of music inspired by the saxophonist's daughter, who died at Sandy Hook.
- Matt Collar
The Search for Everything
Columbia
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John Mayer returns to supple soul on this rich, rewarding album.
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Unseen Forces
Kranky
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Michigan-based artist Justin Walter returns to Kranky for a second album of dreamlike improvisations utilizing the rare Electronic Valve Instrument.
- Paul Simpson
Double Roses
Hot Records
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The singer/songwriter's second album delivers portraits of sorrow and strength that evoke confessional British folk and Laurel Canyon artists.
- Heather Phares
DAMN.
Aftermath
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Pared as it might seem, the rapper's fourth proper album is just as rich as the platinum releases that preceded it.
- Andy Kellman
Howard Shore: Two Concerti - Ruin & Memory, Mythic Gardens
Sony Classical
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This is superior "crossover" music; it doesn't betray the structural rigor that has historically defined music in the classical tradition.
- James Manheim
Still Life
Domino
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The British trio's debut album of sophisticated, dreamy, '80s-style synth pop.
- Matt Collar
Felix Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto, Op. 64; String Octet, Op. 20
Challenge Classics
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Violinist Liza Ferschtman presents works that bookend Mendelssohn's career, his early Octet and his final major work, the Violin Concerto.
- Blair Sanderson
Thomas Adès: Asyla; Tevot; Polaris
LSO Live
AllMusic
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Three large orchestral works seem to flow one into the other, with the LSO sounding highly energized.
- James Manheim
The Piano Music of Ralph Vaughan Williams
Somm
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Given the fluency of the piano writing here, it's a little hard to understand why Vaughan Williams neglected the instrument.
- James Manheim
Gargoyle
Heavenly
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New collaborators and strong material serve the smoky-voiced singer and songwriter well on this 2017 effort.
- Mark Deming
Liszt: Faust Symphony
Alpha
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Martin Haselbóck and his Vienna Academy Orchestra present a period reading of Franz Liszt's most influential work, A Faust Symphony.
- Blair Sanderson
Hopeless Romantic
Verve
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Michelle Branch returns after an extended hiatus with a moody set of retro-electropop.
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Hamartia
The End
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On this offering, the band walks the tightrope between doom, death, prog, and goth metal, and gets the tenuous balance absolutely right.
- Thom Jurek
50 Years of Blonde on Blonde
Columbia / Sony Music
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A rollicking live rendition of Bob Dylan's 1966 masterpiece Blonde on Blonde.
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Forever or Never
Tapete Records
AllMusic
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The group's seventh album is its richest, most fully realized effort yet, packed with lovely singing and warm harmonies reminiscent of the Free Design.
- Tim Sendra
Everything So Far
Run for Cover Records
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The collation of the ragged New Jersey indie rock outfit's entire pre-label catalog.
- Timothy Monger
Americana
Legacy / Sony Music
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Ray Davies adapts his autobiography Americana into a rich, rewarding song cycle recorded with the Jayhawks.
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm
Jay Vee Records
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Robert Cray records with the legendary Memphis soul outfit the Hi Rhythm Section.
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Robyn Hitchcock
Robyn Hitchcock / Yep Roc
AllMusic
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Recorded in Nashville with pop sorcerer Brendan Benson, Robyn Hitchcock's 22nd studio outing is his most vibrant collection of new music since the early 1990s.
- James Christopher Monger
The Last Rider
Compass
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Co-producing with drummer Don Kerr, Sexsmith employs his touring band for a warm and inspired outing.
- Timothy Monger
async
Milan
AllMusic
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Ryuichi Sakamoto's first solo album since recovering from throat cancer is sparse and challenging, yet ultimately powerful and rewarding.
- Paul Simpson
Belong
Downtown / Interscope
AllMusic
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The N.Y.C. group's third LP strikes a nice balance between their musical theater/experimental rock predilections and their emerging pop ambitions.
- James Christopher Monger
Be Myself
Warner Bros.
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Sheryl Crow reunites with producers Jeff Trott and Tchad Blake and returns to her '90s sound.
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Toss
Polyvinyl
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Collaborations with Deerhoof's Greg Saunier and an orchestra make this one of Tokumaru's most unpredictable albums yet.
- Heather Phares
New Trick
El Camino Records
AllMusic
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A well-paired collaboration between the Oklahoma indie rockers and members of Veruca Salt.
- Timothy Monger
Waiting a Lifetime
Cinematic Music Group
AllMusic
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The band's second album took some hard work to finish, but the end result is well-crafted, deeply satisfying dream pop circa 1992 or so.
Neuk Wight Delhi All-Stars
Domino
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The unconventional U.K. folk/jazz/Indian trio continue to bear fruit on the excellent follow-up to their 2016 debut.
- Timothy Monger
Tara Jane O'Neil
Gnomonsong
AllMusic
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The singer/songwriter's self-titled 2017 effort is languid, luminous, and casually beautiful.
- Mark Deming
Ooo La La La: The Epic Anthology
Soul Music
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Satisfying and deep-diving overview of the R&B do-it-all's 1983-1991 output, including all the charting singles.
- Andy Kellman
Whiteout Conditions
Concord
AllMusic
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This uncommonly smart pop group just keeps getting brighter and more satisfying on its seventh album.
- Mark Deming
2016 Atomized
Beat Dies Records / Raveonettes
AllMusic
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Recorded over a year's time, releasing a song a month, the long-running duo experiment successfully with their trademark noise pop sound.
- Tim Sendra
Clara Obscura
Lolipop Records
AllMusic
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The second outing from this power pop combo fronted by Weezer's Brian Bell is a melodic gem in the vein of Redd Kross and the Grays.
- Timothy Monger
Form of Play: A Retrospective
Omnivore
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Career-spanning collection of the Bay Area power pop group's work, lovingly put together by the band's own bassist, Alec Palao.
- Tim Sendra
Parking Lot Symphony
Blue Note
AllMusic
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A celebratory dive into organic '70s-style R&B marks the New Orleans brass superstar's Blue Note debut.
- Matt Collar
The Assassination of Julius Caesar
House of Mythology
AllMusic
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In another radical change of direction, the band completely embraces 1980s synth pop as a creative force in this set of gorgeously crafted new songs.
- Thom Jurek
The Authorized Bang Collection
Legacy / Sony Music
AllMusic
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Splendid, well-detailed overview of the singer/songwriter's 1967 work for Bert Berns' Bang Records label.
- Mark Deming
I Don't Wanna Grow Up
Castle Face
AllMusic
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The band's fourth album of snappy lo-fi power pop is their best yet, and also their last ever.
- Tim Sendra
God's Problem Child
Legacy / Sony Legacy
AllMusic
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An uncommonly strong latter-day record from Willie Nelson filled with wry, moving reflections on mortality.
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine