Editors' Choice for January, 2017

AFI
Concord
Alterna-punk vets evolve on album ten, combining muscle with rhythmic new wave/post-punk influences.
- Neil Z. Yeung
Etc Recordings
Third LP from the British "Too Close" singer that finds him reflecting on faith, self-worth, and positivity in an increasingly challenging world.
- Neil Z. Yeung
Merge
Solo debut from former Swearin' frontwoman is a smart, impassioned breakup album, indie pop style.
- Mark Deming
Fat Possum Records
Tommy Stinson is the only holdover in this new edition of his short-lived '90s band, but the feel and the fun are all there.
- Mark Deming
Earth Records
This handsome package contains three solid '90s-era albums, with a bonus fourth disc of unreleased alternates, demos, and new songs.
- Thom Jurek
Valory / The Valory Music Co.
On his sequel to Just as I Am, Brantley Gilbert further separates himself from the bro country pack.
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Harmonia Mundi
One of Pärt's most popular works is well-suited to the sound of the Cappella Amsterdam.
- James Manheim
BIS
These are unusually strong performances that provide serious competition for the hundreds of other recordings of these warhorse symphonies.
- James Manheim
ECM
This adventurous and accessible date by the Swiss trio should help establish an audience beyond Europe's borders and jazz's confines.
- Thom Jurek
Daniel Taylor Music / Sony Classical
The freshness of the program is so great that you might easily listen to this outside of the holiday season.
- James Manheim
Hot Shot Records / Hot Spot Records
Changing his delivery slightly, the Texas singer/songwriter channels Johnny Mercer, Nat King Cole, Satchmo/ and swing on this excellent date.
- Thom Jurek
Anti-
Nearly 30 minutes of Seussian guitar pop instrumentals from songwriter/maverick Steve Marion.
- Marcy Donelson
Resonance
This 1968 club date is a hard-grooving, Detroit soul-jazz stunner from guitarist and organist Lyman Woodard and drummer Melvin Davis.
- Thom Jurek
Halocline Trance
Drifting further from club music conventions, Egyptrixx presents some of his best work yet with this trippy, atmospheric full-length.
- Paul Simpson
Thrill Jockey
Moving to Thrill Jockey, the experimental electronic duo creates a hypnotic, bracing album using self-built instruments and loads of distortion.
- Paul Simpson
Light in the Attic Records
The singer/songwriter's visionary expansion of tropicalia was misunderstood in 1971, but is now justly regarded as a Brazilian rock classic.
- Thom Jurek
Light in the Attic Records
This 1970 masterpiece is a formal goodbye to the Jovem Guarda as it melds MPB, rock, soul, and groove to inspire a new generation.
- Thom Jurek
Light in the Attic Records
On this intimate date, the Brazilian singer/songwriter explored influences ranging from the Laurel Canyon scene to spacy soul and jazz.
- Thom Jurek
Stoner Disco
The New Pornographers guitarist's third solo outing is a warm-hearted tribute to '70s AM pop and disco studiocraft.
- Timothy Monger
Jagjaguwar
The duo's first proper studio album finds them joined by a 40-plus-piece orchestra, the Lemon Twigs, and Steven Drozd, and it's a corker.
- Marcy Donelson
BIS
Fine engineering captures the energy of an extraordinary pair of Shostakovich performances.
- James Manheim
Polyvinyl
The prolific songwriter balances intense poetic narratives with more reflective electronic pieces on his first album since moving to Montreal.
- Paul Simpson
Stones Throw
R&B
Inviting, frolicsome, and delightfully off-center love songs from the multi-instrumentalist Stones Throw signee.
- Andy Kellman
Harmonia Mundi
The Jerusalem Quartet presents the even-numbered quartets of Béla Bartók in polished performances that build anticipation for a complete cycle.
- Blair Sanderson
ECM
The lineage in this band enables its members to explore an abundance of creative ideas with subtlety, empathy, and confidence.
- Thom Jurek
Ambitious double set from the Australian singer/songwriter adds more rock to the mix without blurring her hard country roots.
- Mark Deming
Arts & Crafts
Innovative turntablist Kid Koala enlists Icelandic vocalist Emilíana Torrini for a wondrous album of dreamy ambient pop.
- Paul Simpson
Nuclear Blast
On an album nearly five years in the making, the lineage thrash metallers and producer Jens Bogren show the kids how it's done.
- Thom Jurek
Mom + Pop Music
Indie folk-rocker Aly Spaltro crops her pseudonym to Lady Lamb for this seven-track EP that emphasizes vulnerability and resilience.
- Marcy Donelson
Merge
The outstanding singer and songwriter teams in the studio with Suede guitarist Bernard Butler, and the results are impressive.
- Mark Deming
Thirsty Ear
On his final Thirsty Ear date, the pianist/composer and his trio deliver an accessible but no less questing set of new tunes.
- Thom Jurek
Memphis Industries
The Leeds indie rock outfit moves deftly into a more experimental phase on their strong sophomore set.
- Timothy Monger
Mute
The fourth and final volume in a 20-year series, the artist sends it off with the same musical imagination, savvy, and humor he began with.
- Thom Jurek
Editions Mego
Seefeel's Mark Clifford and Scott Douglas Gordon (Loops Haunt) team up for a chaotic yet joyful album of free-form explorations.
- Paul Simpson
Vermilion Records
The singer/songwriter's second album is a warm and shiny electro-pop collaboration with Boxed In's Oli Bayston.
- Tim Sendra
Run the Jewels, Inc.
Rap
The third installment in the duo's excellent catalog is their best to date, packed with agile wordplay, inspired guests, and tight production.
- Neil Z. Yeung
Rock Action
Brilliant debut album of Afro-pop-inspired indie pop from Golden Grrrls and Shopping members.
- Tim Sendra
Urinal Cake
Longtime Michigan indie scene regular Stef Chura perfects her anxious, visceral sound with her excellent first studio album.
- Paul Simpson
Slumberland
The band's second album was a struggle to make, but the resulting smoothly polished melancholy pop is a breeze to listen to.
- Tim Sendra
Warner Bros.
Brash, breathless modern punk-pop with a strong classic pop sensibility.
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Captured Tracks
Excavated 1980 session from the legendary English pop wizard that leans in a cheerful pub rock/new wave direction.
- Tim Sendra
Young Turks
The trio's bold third album celebrates taking risks when it comes to love and music.
- Heather Phares
Houndstooth
London-based producer Ross Tones' second album as Throwing Snow is a suspenseful, constantly evolving cinematic journey.
- Paul Simpson
Yep Roc
The gifted singer/songwriter delivers another album of great songs and singing, this time produced by Iron and Wine's Sam Beam.
- Mark Deming
Drag City
With Cairo Gang's Emmett Kelly on board and a live studio band, the album is a thunderous noise-fest balanced with sweet folk-rock tunes.
- Tim Sendra
Ghostly International
Tycho's fourth studio album is darker and moodier than past efforts, but it still maintains the instrumental group's familiar, pleasant sound.
- Paul Simpson
Now-Again
The first anthology from this seminal Zimbabwean heavy rock band who led the country's mid-'70s counterculture.
- Timothy Monger