Best things we heard in November…

Tom Burrows: Two contrasting moods for my November:

When I read that Fleet Foxes had a new record out I thought, “do we need a new Fleet Foxes album in 2020?” But friend, let me tell you: I was very wrong to be so dismissive. The Foxes are one of those bands I’ll go a long time without listening to and kind of forget how good they are, but listening to Shore was a wonderful reminder. The sonic palette of the record is beautiful; its tranquil meditations on life are steered by blissful harmonies and folk rock melodies – from gentle opener ‘Wading in Waist-High Water’, through to the closing title track. I know they’re not for everyone, but this is well worth your time.

Then my brother told me that Danny Brown had teased his next project, XXXX, on Twitter. This instigated an instant replay of everything the man has done since 2010’s The Hybrid, and lots of time lost down the Genius rabbit hole. He’s a genius.

Nick Parker: Clipping – ‘Say the Name’ – Clipping have returned with Visions of Bodies Being Burned, very much a sister album to last year’s There Existed a Addiction to Blood. It keeps up the horror and violence ridden narratives, and the music matches it perfectly – aggressive, wild, and intimidating.

Like Existed, Visions is NOT easy listening. It’s actually fucking hard work, to be honest, but so, so addictive once you make the effort. ‘Say the Name’ is perhaps an easy gateway drug into this world of musical glitch and grind, and I’m drawn to it like one of those poor inquisitive fools who wander away from the party towards the crack of some sound in the woods, only to be eviscerated. What a way to go.

James Spearing: Bicep – ‘Apricots’ –  With a new album on the way in January, so far it’s more of the same from the Bicep boys. With the strength of their previous work, that’s a good thing. It’s a very Bicep sound. A simple chord sequence that constantly pushes you forward sits under an eastern-tinged sample and over the barest of beats. My hope is still that they’re using this familiarity to ease us into their second LP, wherein they’re hiding a more unusual, more exotic fruit. A persimmon. A mangosteen. I love apricots though.

Fran Slater: I usually try very hard to discuss a recent release in this feature, hoping to maybe bring attention to somebody you readers aren’t familiar with. But November has been a funny month for me. I’ve been going back through 2020 albums to try and put together a top twenty for Record Culture, I’ve had four or five albums on the review timetable, and I’ve been listening back through the records I have bought during this unending year of ours.

I’ve also been putting together a shortlist of 20 songs for my next Why I Love section on the Picky Bastards Podcast. And that artist was undoubtedly the highlight of the month. So just in case you’ve never heard of him, hear I am, introducing you to Mr David Bowie. And I’m using a video of not only the best song I heard in November, but arguably the best song ever written by anyone ever. EVER.

Pete Wild: I’ve sort of been wrestling with the new Fleet Foxes record Shore (I want you all to picture Alan Bates and Oliver Reed involved in a bit of rough and tumble in the 1969 version of Women in Love directed by Ken Russell – it’s been as unpleasant as that). On the one hand, I love it, it sweeps me up, I drive along with it turned all the way up to 60 (which sounds so Alan Partridge as to be ridiculous) and I think YES! like Homer Simpson does when presented with Bachman Turner Overdrive. At the other extreme though I can’t help but wonder if it has just a half dozen GREAT songs and then a half dozen similar sounding songs. I try listening to it in order, I try it on shuffle, I get SONGS I LIKE A LOT and then SONGS I FEEL I SHOULD LIKE MORE AND MAYBE I WILL IN TIME BUT NOT YET. It’s a good record, don’t get me wrong. I’m enjoying the back and forth. I think there’s just a bit of me that glimpses greatness in there and wonders if it could have been more out and out great than simply just good.

Sam Atkins: Edge of Midnight (Midnight Sky Remix) – Miley Cyrus & Stevie Nicks – A month stacked with new releases just in time for the Christmas rush, so I’m clearly going to choose some unexpected new release that will introduce a brand new artist to our dear readers? Fat chance. I’ve gone for the equal parts unwieldy and essential remix to a song that was already the best pop record of 2020. Midnight Sky was already a 80s tinged banger that showcases Miley as the massively underrated vocal powerhouse that she is, but melded with the all time classic song that inspired it is pure magic. It’s almost hilarious how much the ‘ooh, ooh’ bit of the hook of the original version sounded like Stevie’s ‘ooh baby, ooh, say ooh’ bit of Edge of Seventeen, and here it becomes one.

There’s so much respect between this pairing, Miley successfully paying careful homage to the legends who inspire her, while Stevie clearly inspired herself by the younger artists who follow her. The result is a second incredible version of one of 2020’s best songs, I’m just glad the rest of this album holds up nearly as well.

Matt Paul: Dizzee Rascal – E3 AF – Anyone who has listened to the most recent episode of the podcast knows how much I love Dizzee. And his new album does not disappoint. E3 AF has the full spectrum of UK Hip Hop. From the harder edges to the shinier pop, Dizzee is pretty assured and as always is having fun throughout.

With the previous album Raskit and a slew of solid features I feel like Dizzee has refound the balance seen in his his earlier work. Something which was lost for a while when it was all about the Hip-POP. As the UK scene goes from strength to strength, it is good to have one of its most influential figures back at the forefront.

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