The Wrap Up: November 2021

The penultimate month of 2021 featured highlights from Silk Sonic, Snail Mail & The War On Drugs.


It's almost that time of the year - December is in sight and that means the 2021 countdowns are on the horizon, with the best albums and songs of the year being named very soon on Either/Or.


There will be no December Wrap Up as I'll be focused on year end listmaking (and it's usually the quietest month of the year by some distance), but don't worry if you're fixing for some new album reviews and recommendations next month - anything that stands out in the next four weeks will be covered in a bumper January round up to kick off the new year. Keep an eye out in the coming weeks on Twitter and Instagram for when you can expect to read the 2021 lists, which I'm very excited to share soon.


And hey - if you've only begun subscribing this year, then why not familiarize yourself with last year's countdowns of the Top 25 Albums of 2020 and the Top 100 Songs of 2020.


Before we get to all of that though, there were plenty of candidates in November that could see themselves added to either list, with a fantastic set of records dropped by funky new outfit Silk Sonic, indie darling Snail Mail and the always reliable War On Drugs. There's a couple more gems to take a look at in GOODGOODNOTBAD before the November Mix names the best tracks of the month, and we take a look ahead to what's expected in December.


November Album Reviews





Things Take Time, Take Time - Courtney Barnett


Courtney Barnett's third album certainly lives up to title despite clocking in at just over a half hour.


Things Take Time, Take Time has its share of decently catchy garage rock moments ('Rae Street', 'Write a List of Things to Look Forward To'), but on the whole makes for another low energy collection of slacker ballads that finds the Aussie still struggling to recapture the wicked charm and badass attitude of 2015's uproarious Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit.


Even more so than 2018s underwhelming sophomore outing Tell Me How You Really Feel, Things Take Time's lethargic prose presents an indifferent character that stands in stark contrast to the immediately distinctive songwriter that blasted onto the scene with such a riotous debut what seems like an awfully long time ago now.


5.5 / C-

Best Tracks: 'Rae Street'/'Write a List of Things to Look Forward To'



Listen on Spotify


 


An Evening with Silk Sonic - Silk Sonic


One of the most pleasantly surprising collaborations of the year comes from Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak, who lay down a sumptuous set of ultra suave R&B jams on An Evening with Silk Sonic.


Across 31 super smooth minutes, the unlikely duo skillfully execute a loving, faithful throwback to 70s funk and soul that can only be accurately describe as downright boogie-licious.


Here's hoping this is just the beginning of a beautiful friendship, as Silk Sonic undoubtedly brings out the best in both of its artists.


7.5 / B

Best Tracks: 'Leave The Door Open'/'Fly As Me'/'Smokin Out The Window'


Listen on Spotify


 


Valentine - Snail Mail


Following the breakout success of debut hit Lush in 2018 while she was still just a teenager, Lindsey Jordan returns wiser on Snail Mail's irresistible sophomore album.


With an infectious and altogether more accessible guitar pop sound to contrast the lo-fi rock of its predecessor, Valentine is a stunning meditation on love and heartbreak that sees Jordan evolve at an impressive rate.


8.0 / B+

Best Tracks: 'Valentine'/'Madonna'/'Glory'


Listen on Spotify


 


I Don't Live Here Anymore - The War On Drugs


Perfectly timed to coincide with the arrival of crisp days and dark nights, I Don't Live Here Anymore marks yet another triumph for The War On Drugs as Adam Granduciel & co. weave a wonderfully rich tapestry of symphonic rock soundscapes on their majestic fifth album.


By turns anthemic and ethereal, these immersive 51 minutes grab hold and don't let go with a frostbitten orchestra of guitar, piano and strings drawing listeners into a highly atmospheric experience, powered by the cathartic songwriting that makes Granduciel such a rare staple in modern rock.


8.0 / B+

Best Tracks: 'Harmonia's Dream'/'Change'/'Old Skin'


Listen on Spotify


 

GOODGOODNOTBAD



You know how this works by now, GOODGOODNOTBAD is where I get to give you some extra quick takes on stuff I've been listening to this month that hasn't gotten the full review treatment! This is my way of including some more quickfire recommendations for all of you that are well worth checking out.


These albums can either be: Very Good, Good, Not Bad or BAD. So with that being said, what else is out there this month and what's good?


Beach House prepare to drop a dream pop carnival upon us with the phased rollout of their double album Once Twice Melody beginning this month, as the first of four monthly "chapters" dropped mid November to reliably enchanting effect.


It's a strange release process that Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally have landed upon, but if the entirety of Once Twice Melody can live up to the psychedelic bliss contained within these four tracks then it will be hard to gripe about the final form of this oddly structured record. The band's eighth studio album arrives in full on 18th February 2022 - on the basis of this 21 minutes, we can expect another magical work from the consistently spectacular duo.


Alongside reissued versions of Kid A and Amnesiac to coincide with the 20th anniversary of arguably the most influential album of the 21st century and its sister record, Kid A Mnesia offers up a fluid tracklist of outtakes, B sides and reworked instrumentals taken from the studio sessions that birthed Radiohead's electronic masterpiece.


This third disc, entitled Kid Amnesiae, offers fresh material for fans to dissect from those now legendary recording sessions. Amongst reimagined versions of 'Like Spinning Plates' and 'True Love Waits' as well as isolated string arrangements for 'Pyramid Song' and 'How To Disappear Completely', the most precious gem of this collection for Radiohead diehards is sure to be a final version of 'Follow Me Around', the mythical Thom Yorke solo acoustic piece that was originally heard during soundchecks on the Against Demons tour all the way back in the late nineties. Not exactly a must listen, but a rewarding one for the Radiohead heads among us.


Check out these two releases ranked below and let me know whether you thought they were good, bad or indifferent:



Very Good


  • Beach House - Once Twice Melody (Chapter 1)


Good


  • Radiohead - Kid A Mnesia


 

Either/Or's November 2021 Mix


The 28 best tracks of November, curated by yours truly for your aural pleasure.


Silk Sonic - Fly As Me

Parcels - Famous

FKA twigs - Measure Of A Man (Cinematic)

Mitski - The Only Heartbreaker

Beach House - Superstar

The War On Drugs - Change

Radiohead - Follow Me Around

Courtney Barnett - If I Don't Hear From You Tonight

Snail Mail - Madonna

Franz Ferdinand - Billy Goodbye

shame - This Side of the Sun

IDLES - Crawl!

Gang of Youths - tend the garden

Cate Le Bon - Moderation

Let's Eat Grandma - Two Ribbons

Charli XCX - New Shapes (feat. Christine and the Queens & Caroline Polachek)

Post Malone, The Weeknd - One Right Now

ROSALÍA, The Weeknd - LA FAMA

Earl Sweatshirt - 2010

Lil Uzi Vert - Demon High

Jack Slade - dread ahead (feat. Sorry)

100 gecs - mememe

Slipknot - The Chapeltown Rag

Placebo - Surrounded By Spies

Bonobo, O Flynn - Otomo

Big Thief - Time Escaping

Lorde - Helen of Troy

Lucy Dacus - Thumbs Again


Listen to Either/Or's November 2021 Mix


 

December's Most Anticipated Releases



03/12


Arca - KICK ii & KicK iii



08/12

Beach House - Once Twice Melody (Chapter Two)


10/12


Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Barn



 

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