The 10 Albums You Need to Hear in November

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It’s getting toward the end of the year, which in the music industry means two things: big commercial releases and a precipitous drop-off in quality as the “festive” season draws closer. It’s not all bad, though. In amongst the stocking stuffers and superfluous best-ofs, there are still some quality releases, and as we do at the start of every month, we’ve pored over the release schedules to pick out ten of the best. As ever, we’ve also rounded up everything else of note that’s out this month — the promising, the forbidding, and the stuff to be thankful you’ll never have to hear again.

M.I.A. — Matangi (November 5)

Well, at last. The album is streaming right now, after it leaked earlier today, and first impressions are that at the very least, it’s a whole lot better than MAYA was — it’s leaner, meaner and generally more reminiscent of its creator’s pre-truffle fries days. (Also, apparently Ghetto Gothik founder/spiritual leader Venus X was heavily involved with the record’s production, which is interesting and certainly makes sense given the album’s dirty-yet-eminently-danceable sounds.)

Melvins — Tres Cabrones (November 5)

Kinda astonishing fact: this is the Melvins’ 19th studio album, and it finds them as endearingly strange as ever. The tracklist features much sludge-rock goodness… and a curious one-minute “traditional” country ditty called “Tie My Pecker to a Tree.” Don’t ever change, Buzz. (It’s streaming right now via Pitchfork Advance, too.)

Swearin’ — Surfing Strange (November 5)

Most excellent Waxahatchee/P.S. Eliot-affiliated Philly punks return with their second album, which looks like far and away the best bet for November if you’re partial to melodic guitar music. In particular, first single “Watered Down” sounds like Lucinda Williams, which is clearly A-OK as far as I’m concerned.

Eminem — MMLP2 (November 5)

Is this gonna be good? Maybe, maybe not. Is it going to be worth listening to? Maybe, maybe not. Is Eminem relevant in 2013? Maybe, maybe not. Is the whole thing going to be characterized by more depressing cartoon misogyny? Maybe, maybe not. Is it going to demand listening either way? Yeah, it is.

Lady Gaga — ARTPOP (November 12)

Also on the probably-worth-hearing-either-way front: the return of La Gaga, who takes time out from attending Chelsea gallery openings and pretending to be Marina Abramovic to actually make a record. Since her music has always been the least interesting thing about her, I’m not exactly holding out hopes that this will be great, but you’re going to be hearing a lot about it regardless.

Throwing Muses — Purgatory/Paradise (November 12)

Look, it’s their first album in a decade, it has 32 tracks, it comes with a fancy picture book designed by Dave Narcizo that features a bunch of photos and commentary from Kristin Hersh… what more do you want? Also, Throwing Muses are awesome.

Los Campesinos! — No Blues (November 12)

These shouty Welsh-based indie-pop types are as much an acquired taste as ever, but if lyrics like “Why must I lie awake, from dusk until the morning, through fear of bein’ impaled upon errant mattress spring?” (delivered, inevitably, in a sort of permanently priapic yelp) are your idea of a good time, you’ll be pleased to know that Los Campesinos! continue to deliver.

ERAAS — Initiation (November 12)

It’s a shame this wasn’t out for Halloween, because it’s as spooky as you could possibly hope for. If like me you loved ERAAS’ excellent self-titled debut, you’ll be happy to know that this retains that record’s distinctive atmosphere, but also represents something of a progression for the band’s sound, incorporating electronic influences in addition to the bass-heavy ominousness that worked so well on their first album.

Kevin Morby — Harlem River (November 26)

This is the solo debut from Morby, who plays bass for the wonderful and ever-underrated Brooklyn psych-folk crew Woods and is also a member of The Babies. I’ve not had a chance to hear the whole album yet, but if it’s half as good as gorgeous single “Slow Train” above, it’ll definitely be worth having.

Angel Haze — Dirty Gold (TBC)

Frustratingly, this still doesn’t have an official release date, but all indications are that it’s supposed to be out this month — the 30 Gold project was meant to run for the 30 days in advance of the release, and Angel Haze herself has rapped about the album hitting stores in November. Fingers crossed, and all that.

Also out this month:

Bryce Dessner and Kronos Quartet — Aheym (November 5) The dude from The National composes oblique classical music.

David Bowie — The Next Day: Expanded Edition (November 5) More Bowie! Never enough Bowie!

Cut Copy — Free Your Mind (November 5) LARPing New Order, right down to the sneakily terrible lyrics.

R. Kelly — Black Panties (November 11) Mummy, why won’t the man stop looking at me? I don’t like it!

Soviet Soviet — Fate (November 12) Post-punk from Italy. Good.

Grizzly Bear — Shields: Expanded & B-Sides (November 12) Honestly, the most interesting thing about this is pondering what, if anything, the concept of a b-side means in 2013.

Cate Le Bon — Mug Museum (November 12) Welsh singer who comes with recommendations from Manic Street Preachers, Super Furry Animals, and Woods. And from me! (That’s her doing vocals on Kevin Morby’s “Slow Train” a couple of pages back, too.)

Wooden Shjips — Back to Land (November 12) Set controls for the heart of San Francisco.

Death Grips — No Love Deep Web (November 19) For the three people who didn’t download this when they leaked it last year.

Mick Turner — Don’t Tell the Driver (November 19) Solo album from most excellent Dirty Three/Venom P Stinger guitarist. Apparently it’s a “post punk rock opera.” Yikes.