Best Albums of November 2016

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Epic

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I was initially off-put by the idea of a final album from A Tribe Called Quest as it seemed like a capitalization off of the death of Phife Dawg, but I warmed to the idea when it was revealed that the bulk of the album was recorded before he passed.  To my surprise, this album essentially picks up from where “Midnight Marauders” left off and the group has such a greater level of cohesion than they did on “Beats, Rhymes and Life” and “The Love Movement.” Tribe is able to sound classic and contemporary at the same time in both their lyrics and production. This is the best Tribe has ever been able to incorporate features in an album.  Rappers like Consequence and Busta Rhymes showcase Tribe’s roots and the inclusion of current heavyweights like Kendrick Lamar further lace together the old and the new. The title of the album and the themes of songs like “Dis Generation” make this album feel like a bookend to their generation of hip-hop as they pass the torch to the next generation. It’s rare for a sendoff to be this well done and touching.  Do not dismiss this album like I originally did as it is not only fantastic from a musical perspective but also culturally important. – Thomas Coogan

Recommended if you like: De La Soul, Pharcyde, Gang Starr

Listen to: “We the People….”

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Deluxe Pain

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Clarence Clarity’s new single follows up “No Now,” which is one of the most interesting debut albums in recent memory. His warped and futuristic take on pop music is still largely unparalleled on these two new tracks.  Both songs are so densely layered I’m still picking up on new aspects after a load of listens.  Despite the numerous textures, the songs still contain a vibrant pop core. Clarence Clarity continues to be one of the most enticing voices in pop music right now. – Thomas Coogan

Recommended if you like: Neon Indian, Holy Ghost!, SOPHIE

Listen to: “Vapid Feels Are Vapid”

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6Tendril Tales

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Mazzy Star frontwoman Hope Sandoval returns with her third album with the Warm Inventions.  “Until the Hunter” is a lush collection of folk-leaning psychedelia. Ominous organs kick the album off on “Into the Trees” and the album then diverts with warm and swirling guitars. There is a sheer pleasantness to songs like “The Peasant” that makes the album beautifully tender. “Let Me Get There” is a major highlight as it is a duet with Kurt Vile who is a perfect fit for the track’s swooning melody.  Even if someone is not a fan of this style of folk music it is difficult to dispute the fact that this is a plainly gorgeous record.  Sandoval has delivered yet again a soothing hypnotism on “Until the Hunter.” – Thomas Coogan

Recommended if you like: Mazzy Star, Cat Power, The Sundays

Listen to: “Let Me Get There (feat. Kurt Vile)”

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Loma Vista

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Sylvan Esso returns with their signature bouncy synth pop and they’re at their most addictive on this new single. The tongue in cheek lyrics on “Radio” make it very fun to sing along to. Each new chorus gets added instrumentation that gives it a natural and satisfying build and climax. “Kick Jump Twist” is much more spacious and offbeat which compliments “Radio” quite nicely.  These are two of the year’s strongest singles and I hope Sylvan Esso’s future material follows in this direction. – Thomas Coogan

Recommended if you like: Hundred Waters, Flock of Dimes, Hot Chip

Listen to: “Radio”

9Run For Cover

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“Bonus EP” is a collection of songs that were previously only available via dropbox links on Teen Suicide’s Facebook page.  It follows Teen Suicide’s massive twenty-six song album “It’s the Big Joyous Celebration, Let’s Stir the Honeypot” from earlier this year but is more reminiscent of frontman Sam Ray’s other projects, Julia Brown and Ricky Eat Acid. Someone who is only familiar with Teen Suicide may be shocked and off put by how glitchy and autotune-heavy some of the songs are. However, the EP is particularly digestible for how experimental and lo-fi it can be. “Bonus EP” is a nice mix of Sam Ray’s various styles and it will be interesting to see if he crosses the genres he dabbles in, like he did here, more frequently on future projects. – Thomas Coogan

Recommended if you like: Julia Brown, Porches, Alex G

Listen to: “Let’s Go to the Beach”

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In the Red

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On “Origin of What,” Tyvek continue their streak of great midwestern garage rock and post-punk. Coming in at just under a half an hour there isn’t a dull moment.  The fuzzy and unadulterated sound is typical for most In the Red releases but Tyvek really shines when it comes to the strength of their brief and catchy songwriting.  Harking back to other midwestern punk bands like the Dead Boys, Tyvek present an tight sloppiness. Check this album out if you want to listen to a simple and refined punk record. – Thomas Coogan

Recommended if you like: Parquet Courts, Dead Boys, Ex-Cult

Listen to: “Tip to Tail”

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XO

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The Weeknd’s third album, Starboy, is exciting, catchy, and filled with the kind of R&B/Pop music you want to hear on the radio. The album features contributions from artists such as Daft Punk, Lana Del Rey, and Kendrick Lamar. The album’s title track has an entrancing melody; it’s a song you can’t help but dance to. “Sidewalks,” featuring Kendrick Lamar, carries a haunting electronic tune. “Rockin’” sounds familiar but is by no means boring. The album is cohesive, yet each song can stand on it’s own. Check out Starboy for a chance to bob your head along to upbeat melodies. –Zaria Grace

Recommended if you like: Frank Ocean, Drake

Listen to: “Starboy”

Be sure to check out our Best of November Spotify playlist which features all of these artists and many more!

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