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      Editors' Choice for October, 2020

      Ninja Tune
      Darren Cunningham is joined by a mix of vocalists and instrumentalists, including Vanessa Benelli Mosell and Sampha, on his least esoteric LP.
      - Andy Kellman
      Hollywood
      Compilation showcasing the live tour performances of Queen featuring the former American Idol singer.
      - Matt Collar
      Mad Decent
      Signed to Diplo's label, one-half of AlunaGeorge takes complete control on her gratifying, wide-ranging solo debut.
      - Andy Kellman
      Republic
      The Canadian singer/songwriter continues to explore organic '70s soul vibes on his fifth album.
      - Matt Collar
      Dirty Hit
      The singer/songwriter's debut album updates the legacy of outspoken '90s female artists with heartfelt songwriting and a genre-blurring sound.
      - Heather Phares
      Arbutus Records
      The debut full-length from this Polish crooner shapes synth pop influences into a thick atmosphere of wistful reflection.
      - Fred Thomas
      Mascot Music / Provogue
      Kentucky's Southern swamp metal brotherhood realize the fullness of their greasy, swaggering creative potential.
      - Thom Jurek
      Frontiers Records
      On the band's first studio outing in two decades, they pull out all the stops to reveal there remains plenty of creativity and energy in the tank.
      - Thom Jurek
      Profil - Edition Günter H?nssler
      A strikingly virtuosic debut from a major new presence on the wind scene.
      - James Manheim
      Snakefarm Records
      On their third album, the duo ratchet up both the rock and disco without losing their down-home identity.
      - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
      Columbia
      Recorded live in the studio with the E Street Band, this is a celebration of life and a meditation on mortality.
      - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
      Sub Pop
      The noise rap trio continue the deep dive into horrorcore that they began on their last album, focusing on themes of paranoia and grisly violence.
      - Fred Thomas
      Rounder
      The Los Angeles group balance existential dread and classic rock influences on their engagingly literate seventh album.
      - Matt Collar
      Fire Records
      The onetime Flying Nun and Utility Records act returns with its first material in 30 years, and it's an indie pop gem.
      - Marcy Donelson
      Drag City
      After a brief hiatus, the Baltimore noise rock band return with one of their most focused and powerful albums yet.
      - Fred Thomas
      Park the Van
      The onetime Beverly leader makes an engaging solo debut that recovers from a breakup while drawing on '80s and '90s musical touchstones.
      - Marcy Donelson
      Domino
      The producer/songwriter's debut is a kinetic, softly subversive triumph designed to make listeners think as well as dance.
      - Heather Phares
      Verve
      A dazzling, previously unheard concert from the acclaimed vocalist recorded two years after her first classic Berlin date.
      - Matt Collar
      Concord
      A restless, adventurous album where Elvis Costello puts a new spin on old tricks.
      - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
      Sacred Bones
      Rundle and Thou team up for an evocative set that stands at the nexus of doom, gothic rock, post-grunge, and black metal.
      - James Christopher Monger
      Warner Classics
      A terrific collection of unfamiliar oboe-and-piano pieces rooted in French neoclassicism.
      - James Manheim
      Harmonia Mundi
      Strong historically-oriented performance that emphasizes the links between Beethoven and music of the French Revolutionary period.
      - James Manheim
      III
      In the Red Records
      Pummeling, riff-heavy proto-metal spiked with biker rock and psych delivered with unvarnished power.
      - Tim Sendra
      Jagjaguwar
      R&B
      Diversifying in every respect, the multi-instrumentalist and vocalist moves across Latin trap, reggaeton, funk, and other forms with ease.
      - Andy Kellman
      Beyond Beyond Is Beyond
      This prolific neo-jam band distills their wide-ranging creative impulses into relatively compact forms for their most engaging album to date.
      - Fred Thomas
      Arcana
      An impressive revival of a forgotten 18th century masterpiece by Niccolò Jommelli.
      - James Manheim
      Grateful Dead
      The companion piece to the restrained acoustic material of Workingman's Dead, and easily the band's studio masterwork, is expanded here with a live set from 1971.
      - Fred Thomas
      Rough Trade
      Cut from 200 days of sessions, this West Coast sextet's ambitious, Technicolor debut uses the Beach Boys and Queen merely as launching points.
      - Marcy Donelson
      Deutsche Harmonia Mundi
      A large sampling of sacred and secular polyphony, beautifully performed in an acoustically superior Romanesque church.
      - James Manheim
      Fearless Records
      Masterful debut from the alternative rock duo that fuses angular grooves with glam flair.
      - Neil Z. Yeung
      Chandos
      A crisp, chamber-sized Beethoven concerto performance with a praiseworthy level of detail.
      - James Manheim
      Blue Note
      The vibraphonist's sophomore album of expansive, harmonically and tonally colorful jazz.
      - Matt Collar
      Omnivore / Omnivore Recordings
      Collaborating with producer Mark Hudson, the Badfinger guitarist makes a warm, welcoming coda to his power pop career.
      - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
      Planet Mu / Timesig
      The RHCP guitarist's first purely electronic album under his own name is an impressive set of tracks inspired by jungle and breakbeat hardcore.
      - Paul Simpson
      Rhino
      A box set containing five discs of unreleased and compelling tapes from Joni Mitchell's years as a folk singer in the mid-1960s.
      - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
      Cantaloupe
      On her first studio outing in five years, the guitarist teams with a sound designer in delivering a groundbreaking set of instrumentals.
      - Thom Jurek
      BGU / BMG
      The Georgian-born British singer returns with her most personal and artfully experimental album to date.
      - Matt Collar
      ECM
      An improvised concert from perhaps his final European tour finds the pianist keenly exploring the musical spirits that have informed his career.
      - Thom Jurek
      Signum Classics
      An extraordinary choral song cycle by a composer and poet, marking in personal detail the cancer death of the poet's wife.
      - James Manheim
      Arcana
      Exceptionally strong Brahms, with a period piano that catches the complex balances in the composer's two cello sonatas.
      - James Manheim
      Slumberland
      Another refreshing and hook-filled jolt of lo-fi, high-excitement indie pop with mod and psych underpinnings.
      - Tim Sendra
      Bars Only Entertainment
      Rap
      Executive-produced by Phonte, this EP from the sharp and smooth rapper/singer packs the wallop of an album.
      - Andy Kellman
      Ninja Tune
      Travis Stewart fuses hip-hop, drum'n'bass, and other genres on an album informed by out-of-body experiences.
      - Paul Simpson
      Drag City
      The trio's first album in nearly a decade captures the fragmented feel of its namesake year with delicate folk-pop, clattering rock, and open emotion.
      - Heather Phares
      Because Music
      The rousing fourth set of island-blasted bliss from Diplo and a cast of international, cross-genre friends.
      - Neil Z. Yeung
      Firehouse 12
      The second provocative offering from the guitarist's vocal group features new members and three cameos from Robert Wyatt.
      - Thom Jurek
      Ghostly International / Secretly Canadian
      The ambient harpist works with Slowdive's Neil Halstead on this album of patient, autumnal instrumentals.
      - Fred Thomas
      Sub Pop
      Album four from this Canadian math rock assault team is intelligent and well detailed while still brutally hard.
      - Mark Deming
      Sony Music
      A moving and culturally relevant plea for indigenous rights marks the Australian band's first release in 18 years.
      - Timothy Monger
      International Anthem / International Anthems
      Quietly powerful document of a 2018 improvised set in Chicago by two longtime collaborators and spiritual travelers.
      - Paul Simpson
      Ipecac
      The band delivers a bracing and vital-sounding re-recording of their 1986 thrash/punk-metal demo.
      - James Christopher Monger
      Bright Shiny Things
      A powerful, engrossing chamber opera by Gordon based on real-life events.
      - James Manheim
      Relapse Records
      The band's fourth album sees them adding metal back into their shoegaze sound; the result is almost on par with their brilliant debut.
      - Tim Sendra
      Warp
      Inspired by his lifelong love of radio, Daniel Lopatin combines the different facets of his music with a newfound warmth and intimacy.
      - Heather Phares
      Goner Records
      The debut release by the dystopian minimal synth project of Natalie Hoffmann, co-founder of Memphis garage punks NOTS.
      - Paul Simpson
      Deutsche Grammophon
      Forgotten German symphonist offers a distinctively optimistic late Romantic style.
      - James Manheim
      Nuclear Blast
      Arkansas' psychedelic doom metal merchants balance a back-to-basics approach with melodic invention, prog asides, and fine production.
      - Thom Jurek
      Dark Entries
      R&B
      A raw set of previously unearthed disco and funk covers recorded by the iconic producer between 1975 and 1977.
      - Paul Simpson
      Castle Face
      Drifting, thrilling, and fierce psychedelia with free jazz and prog influences from a trio of Canadian explorers.
      - Tim Sendra
      BMG / BMG
      Channeling dread, anxiety, and frustration, the electronic-tinged rock trio hold a mirror to society as the world burns.
      - Neil Z. Yeung
      PentaTone Classics
      A vigorous historical-instrument pairing of early Schubert symphonies continues to showcase the talents of the B'Rock Orchestra.
      - James Manheim
      Linn / Linn Records
      Expert, fully realized Strauss tone poems with a nicely sung and less-familiar set of orchestral songs as a bonus.
      - James Manheim
      ATO
      Drawn from a 92-city world tour, the duo perform Mettavolution with incendiary concert favorites, including a 22-minute cover of Pink Floyd's "Echoes."
      - Thom Jurek
      Blue Note
      Composed as his father was dying, the trumpeter and his all-star quintet provide an intimate dialogue of emotional and spiritual resonance.
      - Thom Jurek
      Nonesuch
      Amidon's artistry is on full display on a return to folk covers that updates traditional fare as well as more-modern touchpoints like Taj Mahal.
      - Marcy Donelson
      Tompkins Square
      The Utah native delivers a timeless-sounding debut of windblown country-folk grace and rambling melancholia.
      - Timothy Monger
      Pure Noise
      The Canadian punk-pop band embrace big power pop choruses on their transformational fourth album.
      - Matt Collar
      Decca
      For his 85th birthday, Ozawa issues one of the finest Beethoven Sevenths on recordings.
      - James Manheim
      Deutsche Grammophon / UMC
      Delicate and spontaneous aren't always words associated with Rachmaninoff, but both qualities are abundant in this lovely recording.
      - James Manheim
      Mello Music Group
      Rap
      The Brooklyn rapper celebrates fatherhood on this highly autobiographical, jazz-tinged EP.
      - Paul Simpson
      Slumberland
      Working with the Clean's David Kilgour gives the indie pop trio a chance to dig deep into their love of Flying Nun-style pop.
      - Tim Sendra
      LSO Live
      A sharp, dark performance of The Cunning Little Vixen, even without the video accompaniment for which it was created.
      - James Manheim
      Don Giovanni
      Brilliant re-creation of the moment in the early '90s when grunge and power pop collided.
      - Tim Sendra
      International Anthem / International Anthems
      The avant-garde duo's collage-like debut, combining acidic free jazz-fusion, Latin rhythms, and electronics into a vibrant soundscape.
      - Matt Collar
      Daptone
      Celebrating 15 years, these New Yorkers bring the horn section back to the front line amid neo-psych, Afro-funk, and swaggering R&B.
      - Thom Jurek
      Century Media / Inside Out Music
      In direct response to the global pandemic, the band wrote this sprawling work about isolation while in transcontinental quarantine.
      - Thom Jurek
      Shelflife
      The band's third album is more sweetly hooky dream pop that's stadium huge and bedroom small at the same time.
      - Tim Sendra
      Stones Throw
      The experienced producer's first album is a joyous yet introspective fusion of synth-funk, hip-hop, and sci-fi themes.
      - Paul Simpson
      Virgin EMI
      The Vamps return after a two-year hiatus with a vibrant and sophisticated fourth album.
      - Matt Collar
      Oehms Classics
      A clean performance that brings out the many layers of this symphony of love.
      - James Manheim
      Brownswood
      The iconic, nonagenarian musician and architect of Mexican jazz delivers a brand-new recording for Gilles Peterson's Brownswood label.
      - Thom Jurek
      Warner Bros. / Warner Records
      Tom Petty's warm, stripped-down 1994 classic gets an expanded reissue with unreleased songs, demos, and live recordings.
      - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
      BMG
      The focused ninth set from the Scottish quartet returns them to the heartfelt earnestness and warmth of their early days.
      - Neil Z. Yeung
      U2
      Interscope
      U2's return to its pre-irony '80s glory days its signature anthemic sound.
      - Pat Sullivan
      Various Artists
      Grapefruit
      A heaping basket of tuneful bubblegum nuggetry from Britain's early-'70s pop market.
      - Timothy Monger
      London Philharmonic Orchestra
      Turbo-Shostakovich from conductor Vladimir Jurowski and his well-drilled London Philharmonic.
      - James Manheim
      Crammed Discs
      A fearless Afro-European art-pop gem from 1985 gets a generous reissue with ample bonus tracks.
      - Timothy Monger
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