Editors' Choice for December, 2019

Mexican Summer
Floating spiritual jazz and spacy synth funk played live in the studio by a five-piece ensemble.
- Fred Thomas
Warner Classics
Breathtakingly virtuosic yet sensitive performances of these early 20th century standards.
- James Manheim
The former Fifth Harmony singer's ecstatic sophomore album finds her in the sway of new love with a candid pop sophistication.
- Matt Collar
Silver Age
The rap supergroup's third full-length of 2019 is a bit more true to life than their usual comic-inspired output.
- Paul Simpson
Not only a vivid reduction of Tchaikovsky's score but a novel presentation with text by one of the septet's members.
- James Manheim
After a long break, the influential slowcore trio return to craft an impressive record that's a more lo-fi and sonically challenging take on their sound.
- Tim Sendra
Castle Face
After a decade away, the Aussie noise punk combo return with an album that captures their raw attack, but tempers it with some melody.
- Tim Sendra
Signum Classics
Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort and Players perform Purcell's King Arthur in the edition by McCreesh and Christopher Suckling.
- Blair Sanderson
Alia Vox
Savall presents a lean and athletic interpretation of Handel's Messiah with La Capella Reial de Catalunya and Le Concert des Nations.
- Blair Sanderson
Chamber-sized and chamber-spirited Vivaldi does not foreclose a good deal of energy.
- James Manheim
King's College Choir
An impressive live recording of the 100th-anniversary observance of the familiar Lessons and Carols.
- James Manheim
On-U Sound
Dub companion to Lee "Scratch" Perry's well-received 2019 collaboration with Adrian Sherwood.
- Paul Simpson
A fine Debussy album, pairing familiar Nocturnes with some fascinating lesser-heard works.
- James Manheim
Not encores in the usual sense, but personal favorites of the great Nelson Freire, magnificently played.
- James Manheim
Mr. 305
On his Mr. 305 label debut, the Miami rapper and friends deliver heady, beat-driven reggaeton and Latin rap wedded to soul, funk, and rock grooves.
- Thom Jurek
With strong and distinctive performances of both concertos, this is a major breakthrough for violinist Rachel Barton Pine.
- James Manheim
AAM Records
A revival of the young Handel's gory, visceral Passion setting.
- James Manheim
PentaTone Classics
A direct, almost urgent performance of Gluck's reform opera, with career-making singing by countertenor Iestyn Davies as Orfeo.
- James Manheim
Harmonia Mundi
An exceptionally well-chosen holiday program by British choir Stile Antico.
- James Manheim
Interscope / Polydor
The Who grapple with aging and the chaos of the modern world in this surprisingly lively album.
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine
ECM / ECM New Series
Thomas Zehetmair revisits Bach's Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin, using two Baroque instruments to capitalize on their different sonorities.
- Blair Sanderson
Planet Mu / Timesig
1999 vinyl debut from the Canadian breakcore innovator, laying the foundational elements of his signature sound.
- Paul Simpson
Leaving Records
The elusive beatmaker (and chef) returns with a brief but tantalizing slice of daydream-worthy lo-fi ambient hip-hop.
- Paul Simpson