Editors' Choice

Selections for

December 2014

Rock or Bust
Columbia
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Excellent, economical no-frills rock & roll record from the unbreakable AC/DC.
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Rossini: Overtures
Warner Classics
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A superior Rossini instrumental album that anyone might enjoy, most especially those who've heard it all before.
- James Manheim
Bach: Mass in B minor
Hyperion
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Out of nowhere comes a superb recording of Bach's Mass in B minor, BWV 232, from the British vocal-instrumental ensemble Arcangelo.
- James Manheim
An Evolutionary Music: Original Recordings 1972-1979
RVNG Intl.
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A rhythmically savvy prophetic compilation of previously unreleased recordings from the pioneering French experimental composer.
- Thom Jurek
V A R I A N T
Mute
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Evian Christ, HTRK, and others offer compelling remixes of tracks from the formidable A U R O R A.
- Heather Phares
Monuments to an Elegy
BMG Rights Management
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A concise, casually dazzling and mature record that showcases all of Billy Corgan's musical obsessions.
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Return to Central [Deluxe Edition]
bis
Do Yourself In
AllMusic
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Scottish indie pop darlings' final album is a solid sendoff for a band many argue broke up prematurely.
- Tim Sendra
Beethoven: The Late String Quartets Op. 130; Grosse Fuge Op. 133
Aeon
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The Brentano String Quartet completes its series of Beethoven's late string quartets with Op. 130 and the Grosse Fuge.
- Blair Sanderson
St. Petersburg
Decca
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Bartoli is fearless in many ways here, convincingly bringing home repertory her listeners will never have heard.
- James Manheim
Sucker
Atlantic
Pop
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The singer/songwriter keeps more of the swagger she gave to Icona Pop and Iggy Azalea for herself, with fizzy, fun results.
- Heather Phares
Berkeley to Bakersfield
429 Records
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Angry hipsters and contemplative cowboys share the stage on this two-disc concept album about life in California.
- Mark Deming
There's a Light That Enters Houses with No Other House in Sight
SamadhiSound
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An abstract, dreamy, challenging, 64-minute work in collaboration with Pulitzer-winning poet Franz Wright.
- Thom Jurek
Sharp on All 4 Corners: Corner 1
Heavy on the Grind
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Better than the simultaneously released Corner 2, this lean and mean album brings back the nastiness of 2006's My Ghetto Report Card.
- David Jeffries
Jean-Philippe Rameau: Concerts en sextuor
Ricercar
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Florence Malgoire and Les Dominos play a version of Rameau's Concerts en Sextuor that matches his instrumentation for the théâtre lyrique.
- Blair Sanderson
Schubert: Schwanengesang
Onyx / Onyx Classics
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As performed by Florian Boesch, Schubert's Schwanengesang lacks Die Taubenpost, but includes five lieder on texts by Goethe.
- Blair Sanderson
36 Seasons
Tommy Boy
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The Wu-Tang rapper returns to his Tony Stark character on an excellent concept album influenced by funk and the '70s.
- David Jeffries
Offerings: Lost Songs 2000-2004
Warp
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Collecting early and previously unreleased music, this is a welcome tribute to one of Warp's most consistent talents.
- Heather Phares
Jean-Philippe Rameau: Les Fêtes de l'Hymen et de l'Amour
Glossa
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Hervé Niquet and Le Concert Spirituel give Rameau's Les Fêtes de l'Hymen et de l'Amour a brilliant period-style performance.
- Blair Sanderson
So What If I'm Standing in Apricot Jam
Earth / Earth Recordings
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Bizarre and beautiful one-off album of acid folk by Australian actor turned songwriter, originally released in 1974.
- Fred Thomas
Poulenc: Organ Concerto; Saint-Saëns: Symphony No. 3 ("Organ")
LPO
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Poulenc's Organ Concerto and Saint-Saëns' Symphony No. 3, "Organ," are paired to great effect on this live concert recording.
- Blair Sanderson
Gymnosphere: Song of the Rose
Numero
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A masterpiece of proto new age experimental music that combines American minimalism and sonic decay techniques gets a grand reissue.
- Thom Jurek
It Is Time for You to Return
Crammed / Crammed Discs / Distribution 13 / Made to Measure
AllMusic
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The lutenist returns with nine fine new pieces performed solo, with Follakzoid's Domingo García-Huidobro, Jim Jarmusch, and Yasmine Hamdan.
- Thom Jurek
Nielsen, Mozart: Clarinet Concertos
Signum Classics
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Julian Bliss performs two of the most important concertos in his repertoire, Mozart's Clarinet Concerto, K. 622, and Nielsen's Clarinet Concerto.
- Blair Sanderson
Anybody Wanna Buy a Heart?
Atlantic
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Even better than the R&B singer and songwriter's debut, additional proof that she's simultaneously larger than life and 100-percent real.
- Andy Kellman
Prokofiev: Symphonies 1 & 2; Sinfonietta
Onyx / Onyx Classics
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Kirill Karabits continues his cycle of Prokofiev's symphonies with the cheerful "Classical" Symphony and the uncompromising Symphony No. 2.
- Blair Sanderson
Live in Dublin
Columbia
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2013 performance recorded in Ireland finds that the venerable singer/songwriter has become a superb stage performer.
- Mark Deming
Beethoven: Violin Concerto; Romances
Zig Zag Territoires
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Lorenzo Gatto returns to classical performance with this album of Beethoven's Violin Concerto and the two Romances.
- Blair Sanderson
Rameau: Pièces de Clavecin
Hyperion
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To mark the 250th anniversary of Rameau's death, harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani presents the complete keyboard works on this Hyperion release.
- Blair Sanderson
The London Sessions
Capitol
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The queen of hip-hop soul and Rodney Jerkins work with emerging U.K. talent for a mix of aching ballads and substantive dance tracks.
- Andy Kellman
Complete Albums, Singles and BBC Collection
Cherry Red
AllMusic
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Exhaustive and inspiring collection of the fiery left-wing indie poppers' complete works, including all their BBC sessions.
- Tim Sendra
A 90th Birthday Celebration: Live in Paris
Erato
AllMusic
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Overall it's hard to escape the impression that this is the kind of chamber performance just not heard anymore.
- James Manheim
Masterpieces in Miniature
San Francisco Symphony
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Michael Tilson Thomas' Masterpieces in Miniature is an unusual offering from a conductor better known for recordings of large-scale symphonies.
- Blair Sanderson
The  Music of Nashville: Original Soundtrack Season 3, Vol. 1
Big Machine Records
AllMusic
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If this first volume of the series' third season proves anything, it's that the music gets better and better.
- Thom Jurek
Dark Rags at Dawn
Numero
AllMusic
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Numero packs up everything they've got by the songwriter in a deluxe slipcase box with his first solo single.
- Thom Jurek
Other People's Songs
Polyvinyl
AllMusic
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Covers album finds this subdued troubadour tackling mellow renditions of songs by Against Me!, Smoking Popes, and more.
- Fred Thomas
La Belle Excentrique
Deutsche Grammophon
AllMusic
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This album is both revelatory and hugely entertaining, and it's a fair bet that Satie and Poulenc, at least, would have loved it.
- James Manheim
La Lira d'Esperia II: Galicia
Alia Vox
AllMusic
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This is absorbing and stands up to repeated hearings, revealing something of the complex society from which it sprang. Highly recommended.
- James Manheim
La Fauvette Passerinette: A Messiaen Première
Delphian
AllMusic
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Hill pulls this off with logic and enthusiasm, and it's hard to think of a Messiaen release that will appeal so thoroughly to both specialists and generalists.
- James Manheim
Doolittle
4AD
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With bonus features ranging from Peel Sessions to demos, the classic album's 25th anniversary edition is a trove for Pixies geeks.
- Heather Phares
Pop Fiction
Matinée
AllMusic
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Indie pop band's first record in over 20 years sounds as fresh and fun as anything from their original run.
- Tim Sendra
Something's Gotta Give
Chandos
AllMusic
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Keenlyside chooses a fine program of familiar-but-not-overdone numbers on this ideal gift item for those who enjoy the operatic/musical theater boundary line.
- James Manheim
Dubrising
Taxi
AllMusic
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After almost 30 years, the rhythm section reunites with dub master Paul "Groucho" Smykle on this excellent LP.
- David Jeffries
Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé
MDG
AllMusic
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Ravel's complete Daphnis et Chloé is presented in the hybrid multichannel SACD format in a shimmering performance by Stefan Blunier.
- Blair Sanderson
Measures
Tru Thoughts
AllMusic
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Ben Lambdin's live band expertly crafts a set of originals and compelling covers in a dynamically and harmonically rich offering.
- Thom Jurek
Raskatov: Piano Concerto "Night Butterflies"; Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring
Seattle Symphony
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The pairing of Alexander Raskatov's Piano Concerto, "Night Butterflies," with Igor Stravinsky's Rite of Spring creates a well-balanced program.
- Blair Sanderson
Are You Shakespearienced? [Bonus Tracks]
Omnivore
AllMusic
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The Minneapolis band's second LP is a captivating blend of intricate harmonies, punchy guitar pop, and unique Northern mysticism.
- Timothy Monger
Applehead Man [Bonus Tracks]
Omnivore
AllMusic
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The Minneapolis band's auspicious debut introduces their creative vision, flirting with future excellence.
- Timothy Monger
Geocidal
Ipecac
AllMusic
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Smart, frantic, and visionary collaboration between Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras that imagines a world in chaos.
- Mark Deming
Millions Like Us: The Story of the Mod Revival 1977-1989
Various Artists
Cherry Red
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Lovingly compiled, fun and exhaustive look at the highs (mostly) and lows (few) of the '70s and '80s mod revival scene.
- Tim Sendra
When I Reach That Heavenly Shore: Unearthly Black Gospel 1926-1936
Various Artists
Tompkins Square
AllMusic
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A wonderful and sometimes eerie restoration of the varied buried roots of modern gospel.
- Steve Leggett
A Better Tomorrow
Warner Bros.
AllMusic
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Even if there's less Raekwon and Ghostface than usual, the collective sound just fine on their sixth studio effort.
- David Jeffries
Painful [Extra Painful!]
Matador
AllMusic
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The album where Yo La Tengo truly hit their stride, expanded with a bonus disc of demos, live recordings, and session outtakes.
- Mark Deming