New Music: November 2020

Here’s a link to the playlist. The play buttons embedded here will play 30-second clips if you’re not logged into Spotify in your browser, which is probably the best way to listen to the tracks while reading this article.

No, “Alice’s Restaurant” didn’t make it onto the list this month, but I hope you’ll enjoy these ten great tracks that were new to me this month all the same!

Jessie Ware — Ooh La La

I had a really hard time picking just one track off of this masterpiece of a record. And listen, this album has clearly taken off, and I’m very late to the party, but it deserves all of the hype it’ll get.

“Ooh La La” is a standout track for me. The groove is immense, with a fantastic bass line, beautiful cascading sound effects with wailing, distant guitars, and, of course, Ware’s astonishing vocals.

I want to blare this track driving through the city at night with the top rolled down, and that, to me, is almost exactly what this track — and really, entire album — was designed for.

The Dirtbombs — Sharevari (Cybernedit)

Avalon Emerson’s eclectic mixtape, DJ-Kicks, could not be more perfect. It will almost certainly end up being one of my favorite records of the year, but I’m a little surprised that this album doesn’t violate some sort of copyright law. I think I’m kind of breaking an unspoken rule of this blog by including a 2020 mix of a 2011 cover of a track from 2000, but it’s new to me!

“Sharevari” is such a jam. It’s gritty but fun, an extreme groove that is immensely danceable. It comes in near the end of the record, kicking the energy up a gear again, but certainly stands alone as its own track. If you include it in your next mixtape, it’ll surely impress.

Tom Vek — Slippery Fish

Tom Vek is back! I was so excited to see this album come out, because Luck is one of my favorite albums.

This one is a bit less energetic than Vek’s three previous records. There’s still something experimental to each track, but the dial has been turned down just a little bit. And that’s fine! I think one of the primary criticisms of Tom Vek’s work is that to the impatient, it might come across as a bit like a Nokia ringtone. But fooey to the folks who do not know how to have fun and enjoy the piercing lead lines of “Sherman (Animals in the Jungle)” — and even if you don’t enjoy his typical work, New Symbols might be a welcome departure.

“Slippery Fish” is a contemplative but still energetic groove, asking questions with its clever lyrics but keeping us grounded with an extremely cool composition. I keep getting random snippets from this track stuck in my head, but that is, for me, completely expected from Tom Vek’s work.

HAERTS — It’s Too Late

“It’s Too Late” kicks in with ethereal pads which are quickly taken up by Nini Fabi’s iconic vocals; a jazzy tune with a great mix of classic indie instrumentation blended with some surprising elements. There’s a little bongo kick in the chorus, which is joined the second time around by the expected percussive elements like, of course, the cowbell.

This track has a fun groove, while maintaining a brooding atmosphere, and I’m excited for the record that this single will support!

Hachiku — I’ll Probably Be Asleep

“I’ll Probably Be Asleep” is cinematic and clearly composed; a ripper of a rock song with gothic undertones. Hachiku’s double-tracked, reverbed, spacey vocals are absolutely gripping, playing so well off of guitars and feedback which fit into the space left around the track so well. The selective use of a variety of levels of grit on the guitar, and a whole suite of organ tones let this track shift in and out of that ocean of sound.

Also, we have to talk about that incredible backline. The way the drums switch in and out between a digital hi-hat and a technical shuffle on the toms fits the atmosphere of the track perfectly; and the bass sits so well in the mix that I can’t ever really pick it out unless the song wants me to.

Молчат Дома — Ленинградский блюз

Molchat Doma’s brand-new record, Monument, is just as much of a masterpiece as Этажи (Etazhi), their iconic second album. But I’m honestly a little surprised that “Leningradskiy Blues” wasn’t picked as a single to support this record. This song is very slightly a departure from the rest of the record, while still maintaining that lo-fi but still deliberately considered tone. The deep mystery that Molchat Doma create with each of their tracks comes out in “Leningradskiy Blues” as well, but there’s a different kind of passion here than the rest of their work.

The overlaid melodic guitars are such a masterful stroke to go with the brooding vocals, which, of course, pair well with the expected bass and electronic drum-kit tones. This track, like the rest of their work, is just immensely cool.

Adulkt Life — New Curfew

Look at that album cover! Now that’s pretty slick.

The structure of “New Curfew” is cyclical but not traditional, just like the guitar line that opens the track. There’s not necessarily any part of the track that stands out as the hook, but taken as a cohesive hole, this track is more of an experience in post-rock as opposed to the more pop-oriented, catchy track that most music points toward.

This track lays a foundation of minimalism which it quickly departs from — basically, setting up this math-like tone in order to knock it down with a punch of a B section. This song doesn’t describe “fun” things, but it clearly comes across as a jam; hopefully Adulkt Life has as much fun playing this track as it feels like it should be!

GRMLN — Hey Cool Kid

I will admit that I haven’t had a lot of experience with Carpark’s catalog, but this cover of “Hey Cool Kid” by Cloud Nothings takes one of my favorite songs and makes it even better. By stripping back the distortion from the vocals while making the guitar effects sound maybe slightly more modern, there’s a little bit more of a surf-rock feel, while still retaining much of the energy from the original.

This track is a great homage, making it slightly more technical, but still just as fun.

Gardens & Villa — Disco Kitchen

I love this track for its combination of stylings that I can’t quite pin down: the opening movements of the track might mislead you into thinking that you were about to listen to a French pop song, while the chorus isn’t out of place from some of the more experimental, distorted pop indie from the 2010s. The wall of sound that this track builds up to is deeply engaging and hard to put down.

I particularly love the warbling synth tones which substitute in for the bass line, giving this track a technical, bouncy feel; that one line is a great microcosm for the way this track sets up the pins to knock them down.

Pom Poko — Like A Lady

Dang this song rocks.

That first kick which drops out to Ragnhild Fangel Jamtveit’s soft vocals is such a great way to foreshadow the rock that’s to come. And seriously, that chorus — it’s like the best energetic Deerhoof song built into a poppier bundle that I just love.

The way that everything is just slightly double-tracked, with each line departing from itself at key moments, is so gripping. Oh, did I mention Jamtveit’s amazing vocals? The range that she controls in this track is astonishing; I challenge anyone to try to match that technical ability while still sounding fantastic.