The best music of November 2011

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Unseasonable warmth in November in the North East didn't influence the tempo of this month's best records. We have bedroom pop, intelli-rap, and studied theses – heady stuff made for contemplating over a cup of warm peppermint tea in your finest flannel. The winter months are coming – that smell is in the air – so at least you can be prepared to stay inside and warm yourself (and a friend! there's a reason for so many August birthdays…) with a few fine cold-weather recordings.

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Best Album

Oneohtrix Point Never, Replica (Mexican Summer/Software Records)
Daniel Lopatin's masterpiece of collage is the perfect tempo of today. No one else has succeeded in creating the soundtrack to the futuristic world of melded, molded pop-culture and computers in our pockets that actually has come to pass. Oscillating between heady sensuality and arrhythmic techno-crunch, all embedded with hidden, unrecognizable samples of your favorite television shows, OPN enters a thesis of cultural study into the canon.

The Best Music of November 2011

Blouse, self-titled (Captured Tracks)
There's a new sound happening in Portland that plays like the pop music the Twin Peaks' gang might be into if the the series kicked off in 2011 instead of '89/90. We were in love from “Videotapes” onward, never knowing that those stirring, vague keyboard pop tones existed in the Oregon territories until now.

The Soft Moon, Total Decay (Captured Tracks)
The Moon gets weirder with a sound that only gets muddier, darker, denser and thicker like a selection of instruments sequenced to battle the EP's production with the mutually asserted threat of disintegration in the way that your AV professor warned you about the analog quality loss through the generational difference from multiple dubs that deviate away from the initial integrity of the original tape.

Tycho, Dive (Ghostly International)
Ghostly Intl. does it again with the latest offering from the Bay Area's Tycho with an end of the year stunner. With tracks that chronicle elements of the human experience of everything from “A Walk,” “Hours” to “Eulogy;” Scott Hansen has created electronic arrangements for the soundtrack for every moment and movement of minutiae from our every day lives.

Thee Oh Sees, Carrion Crawler/The Dream (In the Red)
Hear why critics and fans are calling this Dwyer and company's most realized record to date. “Weird through-and-through in a delightful way, Carrion Crawler/The Dream may be the most cohesive, while still crazy, of Thee Oh Sees’ numerous releases. Each track is heavily rooted in a repetitive rhythm that anchors fun, fuzzed-out shredding and endless vocal distortions, providing a solid base for the band to jump from.”

Ty Segall, Singles 2007-10 (Goner)
“Hitting shelves just in time to bank on Segall’s recent surge in success, Singles 2007-2010 seems custom-designed to remind old fans that Segall’s former sound isn’t dead and gone, while introducing newbs to his grittier work.”

Sandwitches, The Pearl 7″ (Hardly Art)
What these three women do vocally I am still attempting to define but it is incredible and stems from a dialect from other realms.You pay the price of admission for “The Pearl” but will stay for the B side “Benny's Memory Palace” that even has a cool DIY video.

Speak! Inside Out Boy (self-release)
Featuring production by Super 3, Leftbrain, Lord Botch, Alf Alpha and Afta-1, Inside Out Boy is Speak!'s magnum opus of smack talk. Whether it's a steady abuse of narcotics or an undiagnosed attention deficit disorder that gives Speak! his maniac abilities, the young rapper is not short on brags and boasts throughout the 14-track free album.

Milo, I Wish My Brother Rob Was Here (self release)
On the opening cut of Milo's I Wish My Rob Was Here, the Chicago MC displays wisdom and taste beyond his years with “I'm leary of the litnany of fashion tumblrs / and the intolerable bevy of hashtag twitter mumblers / I never got over the death of Radio Raheem / and I'm up all night / because I'm afraid of my dreams.” It sets the tone for the remainder of I Wish My Brother Rob Was Here (a fun nod to Del The Funkee Homosapien's debut). Milo lifts beats from Gold Panda, Shlohmo, Com Truise, Madlib and Flying Lotus for his mixtape, which dissociates the young rapper from his Chicago roots, but hearing him rap in a style akin to Serengeti or Open Mike Eagle, both LA transplants from Chicago, places him back in the Midwest.

G-Side, Island (self-release)
The Huntsville duo celebrate their push-pin in hip hop's geographical map on Island. ST 2 Lettaz and Yung Clova earned the privilege to boast a bit on “Look Up” as they've ridden the high wave of hype into solidifying their city's place in the hip hop community. Besides, when Block Beattaz are mixing up horns like the ones heard here, it's impossible not to grin in triumph.

Black Milk & Danny Brown, Black & Brown EP
(Fat Beats)
Danny Brown's name was already gaining Internet cred with his The Hybrid record, but for a lot of people it was Brown's “Black And Brown” verse on Milk's Album Of The Year that officially introduced him to the rap world at large. A year later Danny Brown's name is jocked hard by nearly every indie publication beyond the deeply-rooted hip hop blogs and magazines. He's ushering in a vanguard of rappers that are post-dunn, post-crack, post-Rawkus and post-underground, while manifesting characteristics of every era in dead honesty and blatant disrepect for the dinosaurs who never graduated.

Bebe Fang, self-titled (Night People)
Perhaps it's just the presence of a startlingly beautiful vocal presence in the midst of slow-moving instrumental meditations, but there's a little bit of the deeply haunting melancholy I felt when first hearing Zola Jesus' very early bedroom mist. Bebe Fang is not a cloistered midwest girl though, it's a duo from Belgium, with a series of cleanly recorded and far more mature moving parts that are on a different trajectory then the Jesus. Still, it's hard not to hear a little bit of that melancholy echoing off the same tombs.

Doldrums, Empire Sounds (No Pain in Pop)
Along with being a really sharp progression out of that bedroom where dudes make gnarly three part harmonies by themselves, this is also the work of a guy who has recently been chosen by Portishead to own the B-side of a split… with Portishead.

Katrina Stoneheart, self-titled (Lillerne Tapes)

The cliche's been robbed of any remaining cred over the past couple years, but the bedroom recorder's grungy guitar hooks still got a better hold on moments of melancholy and the ol' fuck the world posturing than some stained glass synth holiness any day. The last track “Swimswim” is a lovely, slanted portal into possible future excursions that are less strum-til-you-drop and more drunk and looking up at the firmament and wondering why.

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