October saw the first ever streaming release for the Vince Guaraldi Quintet’s classic soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Now we can have a normal holiday like everybody else. Qobuz’ exclusive live EP from Jeff Parker highlights an incredible concert at NYC’s Public Records. Laura Misch’s Qobuzissime-awarded Sample the Sky dazzled us. Astghik Martirosyan made an incomparable record, Distance, regarding her war-torn homeland of Armenia during the pandemic. The Angelica Sanchez Nonet’s spooky & angular Nighttime Creatures was a creation beyond reproach.
The month began on a high note with Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson’s Goldberg Variations and Idylle, an album of French love songs by mezzo-soprano Lea Desandre and lutenist Thomas Dunford. Montenegrin guitarist Miloš Karadaglić's Baroque and violinist Isabelle Faust’s Solo were additional standouts on the strings side. Roger Eno’s contemplative The Skies, they shift like chords… moved us all—a tranquil salve for these times.
Gregg Kowalsky’s Eso Es, esoteric as it may appear at first, created a lush and thoughtful landscape perfect for both passive and intense listening. Hania Rani earned Album of the Week honors and will definitely find her way onto Best of 2023 lists around the world with the incredible Ghosts. Hinako Omori’s stillness, softness... finds the songwriter finding beauty in many genres including R&B and electronica. Hauschka’s newest, Philanthropy, continues his unabated dominance of neoclassical-electronic crossover. Chronicling an important and often overlooked period of creation, the NID Tapes provides context and music from a critical period in electronic music’s beginnings and finally gives credit where credit is long overdue.
Montreal-based Munya’s latest wispy dance-pop release, Jardin, starts off a diverse bunch of pop standouts this month. Singer-songwriter supergroup boygenius continued their ascent to superstardom with their EP, The Rest. As for superstars, there aren’t many bigger than Bad Bunny right now, who sneakily dropped his fifth album, nadie sabe lo que va a pasar mañana. Priya Ragu debuted with the poppy, R&B-and-rap-inflected Santhosam; Dutch indie-pop quartet Pip Blom got synthy with Bobbie; and on Traffic Fiction, Tre Burt tapped into early music memories with his grandfather for a soul-forward reinvention.
In an incredible month for re-releases, Devo, as they always do, stood out with their comprehensive 50 Years of De-Evolution. Speaking of standing out, The Rolling Stones offered a stunning new release, the first since the death of drummer Charlie Watts, that did not disappoint. Truth Club’s Running From the Chase chronicled many styles of indie rock and did so without a hitch. Some Kinda Love showcased The Feelies love for—and command of—The Velvet Underground with a killer live covers set. The Kills returned after a long hiatus to give us God Games and Superchunk brought us up to date on their non-album tracks with Misfits and Mistakes: Singles, B-sides & Strays 2007-2023, featuring acoustic versions and endearing covers of the Cure, John Cale and Misfits.
Prince and the New Power Generation’s Super Deluxe edition of Diamonds & Pearls provides all the context one can muster for a record that re-announced Prince as a god of pop-funk. Robbie Robertson’s incredible soundtrack to Martin Scorcese’s Killers of the Flower Moon is, what we can only assume, his last studio work until his archives are uncovered. Galya Bisengalieva’s engaging and faraway Polygon highlights a string of wonderful releases from the ambient composer. Westside Gunn rarely disappoints and this newest record gives a healthy dose of Stove God Cooks—a welcome voice on WSG’s insane beat choices. Bluegrass/old-time music pioneer Alice Gerrard finds light out of covid darkness in Sun to Sun.
Compiled by Sujan Hong, Jeff Laughlin, Nitha Viraporn/Qobuz USA