Monthly music roundup - November
Updated: Mar 31, 2020
Various album covers from tracks released this month - read further to find out more.
Darcy Miller and Jessica Ahmed contributed reporting to this article.
The Bigger Picture (London) — In a contrast to recent months, November has not seen any releases by high-profile, commercialised youth artists. It is almost as though last month was an interlude between the months of October - which saw 20-year-old Rex Orange County release his album Pony, Asian-American youth label 88rising launch their second Head in the Clouds collaborative album project, and Harry Styles drop highly-anticipated single Lights Up - and December, which will see album releases by Harry Styles (Fine Line) and Stormzy (Heavy is the Head).
Despite this, there was still some great "mainstream" music released - an album by Earl Sweatshirt, a single by Billie Eilish - and plenty of great material was uploaded to Soundcloud and Spotify by the wealth of talent that operates outside the commercialised sphere of mainstream music. Here at The Bigger Picture we’ll be rounding up and summarising the best music releases from each month; this is our inaugural article.
Chixtape 5 by Tory Lanez
On November 15th 2019, Tory Lanez released ‘Chixtape 5’. The release of the 18- track album excited fans as most believed the ‘Chixtape’ series would have ended after the fourth album - the series has a large following. ‘Chixtape 5’ is heavily influenced by the 2000s and incorporates many elements of early 2000s R&B. T-pain, Chris Brown and Ashanti are just a few of the artists featured on this album; these artists appear on reworked versions of some of Lanez’s favourite songs. The most popular song on the album is ‘Jerry Sprunger’, a feel-good song featuring T-Pain - it reworks T-pain’s ‘I’m Strung’, showing Lanez’s understanding of the genre. The tracks, paired with the skits from the album, create a perfect throwback vibe, helping 90’s and 00’s kids relive an era.
Favourite tracks: Jerry Springer, Still Waiting and Jalissa’s back (skit)
Sketches of Home EP by AYEON and Lofty
Sketches of Home is a lofi EP that gently drifts by the listener at an easy-going, laid-back pace, like a calm breeze on a warm spring day. The album, a collaborative project between producers AYEON and Lofty, features slow paced, rhythmic drum beats paired with simple acoustics, piano melodies, and in some cases electronic synths are used. It was released by Jazz Hop Cafe Records, a lofi record label with more than 700,000 subscribers on YouTube. The label is known for its lofi study playlists, which attract tens of millions of listeners - this album is right at home with Jazz Hop’s playlists, perfect for studying and relaxation.
Favourite tracks: Midnight Purple, I’m not subtle, Saturday mornings
Aura by Singular Balance
Aura is Singular Balance at his best. In his new album, released November 29th, he builds upon the atmospheric, ambient style that he has become well known for - on tracks like Infinite, See You Again, and Fazed - and elevates it to a new level, incorporating intimate vocals, and poignant, touching lyrics. Aura is all about heartbreak, love and the Tokyo-based producer’s struggles in his development of his identity, as a person and as a musical artist. On the opening track, he sings, “I had nothing in me, I feel empty, I feel nothing, you took it from me, took it away”; on the track that lends its name to the album title, Aura, he mournfully asks for someone to “take me and break me, and shake me, and take me”; and on the closing track, Death, he manifests the struggles of developing a self-identity, of finding a niche, and of proving your worth to the world, singing, “tell me what to be, tell me who I am, tell me what I am, tell me what to be, tell me who I am, tell me what I am”. The 60-minute-long album’s production is stellar and diverse, featuring beautiful strings, emotive synths, and immersive piano melodies. One thing is for sure - Singular Balance possesses incredible talent, and has proven in this album that he is not only an incredible producer but an equally capable lyricist and vocalist as well. Keep an eye on Singular Balance - and with massive lofi producer Idealism recently teasing a collaboration on an Instagram story, there’s much to be excited about.
Favourite tracks: Aura, Each Other, Death
Feet of Clay by Earl Sweatshirt
Earl Sweatshirt, real name Thebe Neruda Kgositsile, raps at a leisurely pace on Feet Of Clay. The rapper, who shot to global prominence as a sixteen-year-old as part of Tyler, the Creator’s Odd Future Collective, takes a more experimental, laid-back approach to the 7-track album, which despite deriving its name from the Bible’s Book of Daniel, is best prized for its lofi, retro, jazz-like production and the tone and flow of Earl’s raps. It has received almost universal positive reviews from critics.
Favourite tracks: EAST, MTOMB (feat. Liv. E), EL TORO COMBO COMBO MEAL (feat. Mavi)
Don't Go Wasting Time by Alfie Templeman
Alfie Templeman has made a lot of progress in the music world for a mere 16-year-old. The bedroom pop singer from Bedfordshire has had his face plastered on billboards as far flung as LA and Times Square, racking up more than half a million monthly listeners on Spotify. His new EP, Don’t Go Wasting Time, featuring ditties about teenage love and nostalgia, is diverse in its composition and style. The best track from the album, Who I Am, is reminiscent of artists like the Cure, featuring bright and bubbly guitar tones, taking a more indie-pop approach. Meanwhile, Used to Love, First Time, and Lean on my Shoulder are indie-heavy singles, unfolding at a slower, more relaxed pace, with lyrics like “I just wanna feel / Something that I used to love” and “So baby come over / To lean on my shoulder”. Movies and Circles, on the other hand, are disco tunes, showcasing electronic synths and lighthearted guitar strums. Don’t Go Wasting Time, the track which lends its name to the EP title, is guitar-heavy, almost Mac DeMarco-esque, in the form of a letter written to a lover.
Favourite tracks: Who I Am, Used to Love, Don’t Go Wasting Time
Thinking of Leaving You by Kochetkovv
The Russian bedroom producer’s new 5-song EP is dominated by haunting electronic synths, creating an atmospheric, dystopian mood. Kochetkovv, who boasts more than 100,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, made the use of trap-style drum beats and heavy bass patterns on the album, partnering the highlight of the album, the synths, with sampled lush female vocals (Over U) or slowed-down rap verses (Stargazin’).
Favourite tracks: Stargazin’, I Hate You, Over U
Bittersweet by SLCHLD and Whoosh
Canadian-Korean R&B singer SLCHLD released a 5-track EP on November the 22nd in collaboration with Seoul-based producer Whoosh. It is SLCHLD’s distinctive voice, usually paired with stellar production by producers like Harris Cole and Aso, that has been behind the millions of streams he regularly accumulates on Spotify singles, and this EP is no different. Whoosh’s soothing synths and easy-going drum beats allow the power of SLCHLD’s vocals to shine through, hitting the high notes on tracks like Bellflower. The album, like most of SLCHLD’s work, centers around the struggles of love, with lyrics like “I feel your warmth from far away / I can’t be your man / If you don’t believe in me / Baby trust me just this once” (Harbor) and “Can we get it started baby / Before it's too late / Feels like I'm medicated / Your love is too strong” (Still friends, not lovers). Fellow R&B musicians KALLITECHNIS and Lym em also contributed vocals to the album (Changes and Undo).
Favourite tracks: Bellflower, Changes, Undo
Akira by Nathan Kawanishi
Akira is an unforgettable track by lofi producer Nathan Kawanishi, featuring catchy drum patterns, earwormy guitar and synth melodies, and vocal samplings. The track is a perfect addition to any study playlist. It has already racked up several hundred thousand streams on Spotify, the primary location where Nathan Kawanishi, who boasts 433,591 monthly listeners on the platform, posts his work.
Curtains and Apricity by Yami/Hikari
Enigmatic lofi producer Yami/Hikari released two singles this month, Curtains and Apricity. Apricity devolves into jazz, involving light, upbeat brass melodies and captivativing guitar loops, and layers of multiple different instrument. Curtains, however is a world away, with an ominous piano melody dominating the track, accompanied with a slow-paced drum beat, offset by the relaxing ambient sounds of a water stream, showing the versatility of Yami/Hikari as a producer.
Fortune by Kudasai and Two Sleepy
Christian Songco, better known as Kudasaibeats, has made waves in the lofi community, becoming known for a unique synth tone, and melancholy, slow-paced nourishing lofi singles like The Girl I haven’t met, Technicolor, When I See You, Dream of Her, and A Night Together. Many of his tracks have been featured on the lofi label Ikagai’s YouTube page, with The Girl I Haven’t Met recently hitting 31m views. Two sleepy, boasting 700k Spotify monthly listeners, has a style which is more akin to typical lofi hip hop. The song, as well, is a departure from 20-year-old Songco’s usual style, opening with a complex mix of strings, guitar melodies, and vocal sampling, devolving into a relaxing, calming track in which a looped guitar melody is the main spotlight.
Anh van nho duong ve nha em by Sajie
Underrated 17-year-old Vietnamese producer Sajie has been producing beats since he was 15, telling The Bigger Picture that he “truly loves” making music. After receiving help and expertise from other producers online, he has finally broke through with his new single anh van nho duong ve nha em which has notched up several thousand streams on Soundcloud. The track is dominated by soothing piano melodies and features slow paced drum beats; a string instrument melody, introduced halfway through the track, adds another dimension to the single.
Time Lost by Aqualina and Tender Spring
Aqualina is a 19-year-old lofi musician from LA, boasting over 250,000 monthly listeners. The Korean-American producer, real name Sarah Lee, is most known for contemplative, reflective, and calming piano-heavy tracks like April Showers, influenced by her classical training in violin and piano. This song is no different, opening with minimalist guitar strums and calming piano; but the highlight is the nostalgic, wistful and evocative violin melody. Lee collaborated with Tender Spring on this single, who recently released an EP with the producer Flovry.
Everything I wanted by Billie Eilish
The world is Billie Eilish’s oyster right now. Two weeks ago, she received six grammy nominations, and her debut studio album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? skyrocketed to number one on the UK, US, Canadian and Australian charts, with single bad guy notching up almost a billion streams on Spotify. The 17-year-old American was described as “the most talked about teen on the planet” by NME; now, that teen has released a new single, Everything I wanted, which has already racked up 66m streams on Spotify. The piano-heavy, bassy, stripped back track is a tribute to her older brother, Finneas. Eilish’s raw, natural vocals dominate the track, which is pensive and reflective.
Impatient by Shye
Shye, the self-taught 17-year-old singer, has been described as “Singapore’s 17-year-old answer to Clairo” by news outlets. In fact, the British-Singaporean teen recently opened for the American bedroom pop vocalist herself during Clairo’s Singapore show. This new track, titled Impatient, is about the artist’s struggles with acne, featuring the chorus “please refrain from looking at my face… Why won't this go away, I've tried everything, anything and everything”. The track’s production is diverse and layered, including repetitive, looping piano melodies, but it is Shye’s vocals that make the track.
Cost by Boler Mani
17-year-old Australian hip-hop artist Boler Mani has enjoyed success in the Australian music scene. The rapper and producer, from Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, has amassed hundreds of thousands of streams on Spotify, and previously opened for Carmouflage Rose. Cost, released on November the 21st, is, according to Mani, about him “reflecting on a situation I put myself in, meditating on the consequences and learning from it”. The single features a trap-style instrumental, with his aggressive, intense and catchy flow dominating the song.
Two Dreamers (Kogane Remix) and Every Day is About You by Exitpost
In November, the American-Japanese producer Exitpost released two singles from his new album, Two Dreamers, which was released on the 12th of November. Two Dreamers focuses on the kind of identity crisis he experienced being from two extremely different nations, the US and Japan, with Zoom Lens (the record label who released the singles and his album) writing that “Exitpost experienced recurring dreams throughout childhood where he’d wake up in Tokyo panicked, unable to return back to New York. Upon recent visits to Japan, he began experiencing the reverse – recurring dreams where he’d wake up in New York, unable to return to Japan”.
His first single, Two Dreamers, was released at the start of November; featuring lyrics by the Japanese vocalist Umno, the electronic-heavy tune showcases Japanese lyrics which translate to “two dreamers share a light / let flowers grow out my mouth / held my breath / far too long / one night and now you’re gone”. It was shared by Anthony Fantano, of the wildly successful music-review blog The Needle Drop, on Twitter.
Later in the month, however, Exitpost released a remix of Two Dreamers by the producer Kogane, who has become well-known on Soundcloud for his whimsical, acoustic-heavy, ambient style. His remix was no different from this style; it transformed the original track from a more electronic-style track into an acoustic, layered track featuring ambient noises, guitar strums, brass melodies, and relaxing, soothing xylophone melodies.
On November 29th, Exitpost dropped the second single from Two Dreamers, titled Every Day is About You. The track opener is ethereal, almost movie-soundtrack esque, featuring Japanese vocals which translate to “the two of us we were both dreamers / you thought about your home in your heart / and I dreamed about you everyday”. It then progresses into a diverse song, including his signature electronic synth, strings, brass melodies, and traditional Japanese instruments, making the song ear-wormy and catchy. Exitpost wrote on Twitter that the song was based on “a Japanese folk record my mom showed me way back”; it ends with dialogue in English, in which a female voice says that “we were two dreamers. Every day you dream of home, and every day I dream of you”. The subtle differences in the meaning of the Japanese and English dialogue is interesting, perhaps hinting at the cultural disparities between Japan and the United States.
Two Dreamers is an incredibly interesting and powerful project, filled with nostalgia, centring around Exitpost’s struggles with self-identity, being split between two different continents, two different cultures, two different languages, two different countries. Stay tuned for an interview with Exitpost on The Bigger Picture in which we will further explore and discuss his album.
Support the artist by streaming Two Dreamers on Spotify | Soundcloud, Two Dreamers (Kogane Remix) on Spotify | Soundcloud and Every Day is About You on Spotify | Soundcloud. Follow Exitpost on Spotify | Instagram | Twitter | Soundcloud and Kogane on Spotify | Instagram | Twitter | Soundcloud.
Credits to Sara Kobayashi for the translation of the Japanese lyrics in “Every Day is About You”.
Sugar (Singular Balance remix) by Instupendo
Singular Balance’s remix of Sugar is at once beautiful and agonising, nostalgic and comforting. The track is part of a remix album of Instupendo’s Boys by Girls EP, which has already featured remixes by Dylan Brady of 100 gecs fame, Ryan Hemsworth and Jamesjamesjames. Singular Balance transforms the indie single Sugar into an otherworldly, ethereal track similar to his previous ambient work, like Infinite and See You Again. The outro in itself is a masterpiece to behold, and as Singular Balance said on Twitter, “one of [his] favourite things [he’s] ever written”.
Support the artist by streaming Sugar (Singular Balance Remix) on Spotify | Soundcloud. Follow Singular Balance on Spotify | Instagram | Twitter | Soundcloud and Instupendo on Spotify | Instagram | Twitter | Soundcloud.
Day Two by Lucid Green and Yutaka Hirasaka
Day Two, a collaboration by 20-year-old French producer Lucid Green and Tokyo-based cult figure guitarist Yutaka Hirasaka is a leisurely, slow-paced, reflective track. It opens with a relaxing piano melody backed with soothing ambient noises. Hirasaka’s calming guitar strums then enter the track, providing another dimension to the single entirely, transporting the listener to a calm, breezy summer’s day, where all is fine, worries floating away in the gentle winds.
Apologise by Advaitha
Apologise by Singapore-based artist Advaitha is wistful, reflective and tinged with regret. The song features low-key production, a dreamlike electronic synth, which only serves to emphasize the sheer power and beauty of her voice. Advaitha certainly hits the high notes, with her vocals resembling those of classic R&B singers from years past. She sings, “you had me fall down when you were in the wrong / and I, I’d run back to you just so you could break me apart” in the track, which has already amassed over 13,000 streams on Spotify.
Watermelon Sugar by Harry Styles
Harry Styles's second single from upcoming album Fine Line gives off much more of a stripped-back, indie-pop feel. It is simple and catchy, more fitting to be played on a fine summer’s day than a cold, biting, dark, winter night, featuring lyrics like “I want more berries and that summer feelin' / It's so wonderful and warm”. It’s arguably not as good as the more complex, sophisticated, sombre and drug-inspired first single Lights Up, but that doesn’t matter - it’s still a great track. Seeing the quality of the music Styles is putting out these days, it’s quite bizarre to think that just three years ago the Worcestershire-born singer was belting out generic, bland and ultimately boring pop hits as part of boy band One Direction.
To find the full playlist of all the music releases we've highlighted in this article, click here.