The most prominent theme of my favorite November albums is that whatever genre they’re in, they’re mostly on the indie / underground side of that genre. Ultra-prolific psych rockers King Gizzard dominate this month for me. But it was also an excellent month for rap.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, K.G.
Having played many different styles over the course of their 15 previous albums, the band blends a couple of its strongest aesthetics here, as exotic, microtonal psych rock mixes with mind-expanding prog rock and more. Even for King Gizzard it’s adventurous, and it’s the most interesting and exhilarating guitar-driven rock record of 2020. Highlights: “Ontology,” “Straws in the Wind,” “Honey”
Homeboy Sandman, Don’t Feed The Monster
The Queens indie rapper’s latest is at once a profoundly forthright, confessional odyssey of self-discovery and a quirky, laid back rap album with a ton of character and humor. Sandman’s willingness to be vulnerable on this record is its greatest strength. Highlights: “Alone Again,” “Waitin’ On My Girl,” “Monument“”
Aesop Rock, Spirit World Field Guide
Bringing his long occasionally-hinted-at mysticism to the fore, the Brooklyn underground rapper takes us on a characteristically hyper-literate, verbally dexterous street-level magical mystery tour of an album, detailing both international and inter-dimensional travels. Highlights: “Pizza Alley,” “Jumping Coffin,” “Marble Cake”
Ane Brun, How Beauty Holds The Hand Of Sorrow
Norwegian indie folk star Ane Brun’s tenth album is the second of two companion albums released late in 2020 as a tribute to her recently departed father. This one is slower gentler than its predecessor and wraps the listener up in its depth and its warmth. Highlights: “Song For Thrill And Tom,” “Trust,” “Breaking The Surface”
Seamus Fogarty, A Bag of Eyes
Augmenting both traditional folk and folk-rock with electronic instrumentation and structural adventurism, this Dublin singer/songwriter’s third album is especially spacious and experimental. Highlights: “Horse,” “Bus Shelter Blues,” “Nuns”
Kali Uchis, Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios)
On her second album — her first in Spanish — the Colombian American singer, multi-instrumentalist and producer re-routes her eccentric pop through a rich variety of Latin influences from boleros to reggaeton to Latin jazz and soul. Highlights: “Te Pongo Mal (Prendelo),” “De Nadie,” “¡Aquí Yo Mando!”
Held together dusbtep glue, the debut EP from New Jersey-based producer James Kristopher’s new IDM project is bursting with sonic experimentation, propulsive and occasionally abrasive but more often playfully explosive. Highlights: “No Kidding!,” “What O_O,” “I Flare U Stare”
Busta Rhymes, Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath of God
The Brooklyn rap legend’s first proper studio album in 8 years sports apocalyptic themes and a bombastic, high-energy approach. Throughout, he collaborates with a bevy of hip hop greats, many of whom grew up listening to him. Highlights: “Don’t Go,” “Look Over Your Shoulder,” “Freedom?”
Chris Stapleton, Starting Over
The songwriter turned Nashville star comfortably inhabits a range of authentic, rootsy country and pop-tinged, even R&B-infused modern country on his self-assured, tuneful 4th album. Highlights: “Starting Over,” “Old Friends,” “Nashville, TN”
Flohio, No Panic No Pain
Rapping over a fantastic variety of mostly electronic soundscapes, London native Funmi Ohiosumah’s full-length mixtape is punchy, unrelentingly vigorous and impressively confident. Highlights: “FLOFLO!,” “Roundtown,” “Booby Traps”
Tunng, Tunng Presents… Dead Club
An album all about death, interspersed with snippets from their Dead Club podcast, the indie-electro-folk outfit’s 7th album can be preachy and dogmatic, but at other times profound, and the music is is lush and warm. Highlights: “A Million Colours,” “Death is the New Sex,” “Carry You”
Josephine Foster, No Harm Done
Airy, whimsical and magical like the quaver of its author’s voice, the Chciago-based singer/songwriter’s 11th album features eight old-timey outsider folk songs. Highlights: “Freemason Drag,” “Conjugal Bliss,” “Sure Am Devilish”
The Smashing Pumpkins, Cyr
After 30 years of fuzzy guitars, Billy Corgan and company take a big, long 72-minute dive into the modern era by supplementing, and often replacing, their guitars with synths. Highlights: “Dulcet In E,” “Minerva,” “Save Your Tears”
While we’re here…
Did you enjoy this article? Awesome! It was written by a white guy privileged enough to have time listen to like 40 albums every month and write a blog as a passion project, for free.
If you are white and you are also are privileged enough to have some time on your hands, or some money to donate, please check out some anti-racism resources and help fight the good fight.
Nerding out over music is fun, but let’s not forget that we live in a burning world that needs our help! Black lives matter.