The Best Music of November 2013

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Vex Ruffin

November was the month of Rob Ford-gate, OutKast reunion rumors, and Bound 2 vs. 3 (depending on your alliances), and it seemed like things could be getting pretty bleak as we roll on in to Game of Thrones-style winter is coming. Not so, as it turns out, when all the music that we heard in November raised the bar to aid us through our winter glum, surprising us with both joy and depth with every turn. This month's list features a heavy dose of ambient and experimental—seasonal affective disorder, bro—but we ultimately had to give the Best Of to an album that got us out of bed and in fighting form for the coming month of egg nog, drunk uncles, and trees. It's time to deck the halls, so here are a few albums you could stand to put on your wishlist.

The Best Album of November 2013

Vex Ruffin, Self-Titled (Stones Throw)

Vex Ruffin is a self-anointed Beast Master. He's proven an aptitude in it with a series of experimental EPs on Stones Throw since signing to the label via demo – one of the only roster members to do so. There's just no pinning down Ruffin's sound, which can cause rifts as one EP could resonate, while the next grates the ears.

In a brief correspondence with Ruffin he stated, “I know this album is different than my previous work but I'm happy and proud of it.” The self-titled debut takes risks, but considering it was culled from roughly a hundred song options, there's this feeling that some wise tracking input from Peanut Butter Wolf, months (possibly years) of mutations, and a bit of luck all played significant roles in the final cut. By album closer “Ruined”, you'll have understood Ruffin as a bit of Roy Orbison giving way to the natural 80s synth-progression of Alan Vega and tossing in the down n' out punk of Wreckless Eric. It oscillates between angular Public Image Ltd. disaffection, posturing as callously visceral, only to retreat to a comfortable basement for a vulnerable demo that dwells on the loneliness of staying home on a Friday night. Whether the EPs inspired anticipation or you've been questioning Stones Throw's signing of Ruffin, the self-titled debut is possibly one of finest label debuts since James Pants' Welcome.

The Best Music of November 2013 (in no particular order):