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.
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'
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'
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'
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'
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:
Beach House - Once Twice Melody (Chapter 1)
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
December's Most Anticipated Releases
Arca - KICK ii & KicK iii
Beach House - Once Twice Melody (Chapter Two)
Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Barn