New Music Roundup: November

New music roundups are a monthly recap dedicated to covering the latest music in a series of short, descriptive reviews. This month’s edition includes new releases from Action Bronson, Mike WiLL Made-It, Rosalía and more.

Action Bronson – White Bronco

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Amidst filming his ongoing television show (highly recommend for foodies and weed-heads) and other out-of-booth endeavors, hip-hop’s biggest food aficionado is back with another extravagant collection of songs, this time in short album format. His ear for classy jazz and soul samples remains intact (“Prince Charming”), his personality is still as charismatic and infectious as ever, but his will to create a well-detailed project from front to back has clearly waivered. Bronson’s flashy bars and sports metaphors are more clever than your average rapper’s jokes, but it’s hard not to feel as if he’s recycling his reference points a little these days. Still, it’s worth dropping in to hear him tell you he could’ve played for the Steelers (“Dr. Kimble”) or about his post-Trey Songz concert run-in with the law (“Irishman Freestyle”).  – Roberto Johnson

Anna St. Louis – If Only There Was a River

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Hailing from Los Angeles by way of Kansas City, Anna St. Louis’ debut album beholds the picture-esque beauty of classic Americana. “The Bells” would be the perfect backdrop to a cowboy strolling into an abandoned town in 1880s New Mexico, while “Desert” heads in a more ambient direction – the ringing of a faded electric guitar guide St. Louis’ scenic songwriting. She poses to be an interesting artist over the next few years thanks to the combination of her enchanting voice and an ability to utilize spacious song structures. “Understand” is one of the most delightful songwriter cuts of 2018.  – RJ

The Aquadolls – The Dream and the Deception

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The Aquadolls embody mermaid rock to the fullest. The catalyst behind their signature sound, Melissa Brooks pens youthful and exuberant pop songs decked out in vibrant rhythms and dreamy refrains. The Dream and the Deception further progresses the band’s fusion of surf rock and pop punk. “Hollywood” is one of the album’s smoothest guitar jams and also one the group’s breeziest songs to date. The biggest hit on the record comes courtesy of “Communicationissexy/Idkhow2communicate,” a pop-friendly cut with nods to feelings of angst and insecurity that also alludes to the album’s dualistic themes. Above all, The Aquadolls are pure fun.  – RJ

EXO – Don’t Mess Up My Tempo

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SM Entertainment’s favorite group is finally back after over a year of fan anticipation and drought with Don’t Mess Up My Tempo. As always, the boys give vocals that could make an angel cry tears of joy. The title track “Tempo” has them step into a unified R&B chorus with the classic bed squeak sample. Once again, they don’t stop there with the bops as they expand their music palette by incorporating latin, calypso rhythms on “Ooh La La La.” They also have the hard hitting “Damage” that might make you break your speakers and vocals singing along. Personally, a favorite standout member has to be D.O. He has runs that would make you want to have a whole track of him just harmonizing. While the tracks are in the familiar lyrical territory of love, they still are still done at such a level that you can’t help but for fall for them. Anticipation for their repackage is ramped up even more and we’ll have to wait and see how they shine.  – Tyler Jones

Julia Holter – Aviary

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Few modern-day composers, let alone dream-pop related artists, sport a catalog as accomplished as Julia Holter’s. Aviary, the latest work from the electronic music virtuoso, may be her most challenging listen yet. It clocks in at just under an hour and a half and features some of Holter’s boldest and most extensive songs of her career. Lengthy compositions like “Turn the Light On” paint intensified emotions over deep and surreal soundscapes. Holter’s fragmented vocal sound bites amplify the record’s unsettling ambience, notably on “Whether” and the euphoric “I Shall Love 2.” This record is likely too left field for first time listeners, but for fans of elaborate experimentation, it’s a gold mine.  – RJ

Mike WiLL Made-It – Creed II: The Album

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We all have something to fight for. Whether it’s love, money, or respect, there is something that motivates that inner fire. For Mike WiLL, he’s fighting for the soundtrack of the year against Black Panther. Getting help from labelmates and friends alike, Mike WiLL is on the boards providing beats that hit as hard as Adonis Creed’s punches. Each track is tailor made for the artist on it. J. Cole and Ari Lennox provide smoothness on “Shea Butter Baby” and let us hear the softer side of the mix, while Earz, ScHoolboy Q, and 2 Chainz give us the motivation record with “Kill Em’ With Success.” It is the true measure of what it’s like to capture the meaning of hunger through hip-hop in cinema.  – TJ

Rafael Casal & Daveed Diggs – Blindspotting: The Miles EP

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Blindspotting was one of the year’s best films and from one piece of art, we get another. Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs bring the bars and their roles in this little piece of characterized music. The character of Miles played by Casal was reckless, brash, confident, yet insecure in the place of his own hometown. Always trying to prove something to somebody, he was in turmoil. The perfect foil to Daveed’s Colin, this flawed man gives his side and perspective on standouts like “Thug Tho” and “Goals.” Oakland’s resident white boy lets us see how he can be a father, best friend, and mess to the ones he loves. His mind and soul are revealed and we get to sing along to it.  – TJ

Rosalía – El Mal Querer

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International artists of different kinds have their own unique pockets in American culture, but no singer from overseas has found the level of acclaim which Rosalía has in 2018. A year after releasing Los Ángeles – a raw, powerful collection of acoustic Spanish-folk songs – Rosalía returns with a Latin-pop concept record inspired by 13th-century Occitan novel Flamenca. The new LP, El Mal Querer, features a sprawling and expansive display of dynamic compositions, ranging from the infectious and bass-heavy “MALAMENTE” to the commanding and sorrowful “PIENSO EN TU MIRA.” Rosalía’s talent places her in a unique lane artistically, especially considering she’s signed to a major label (Sony). She’s a songbird capable of delivering a thumping club hit as much as she is a heartbreaking ballad, yet she clearly has a thorough and advanced understanding of both her musical heritage and the modern pop landscape.  – RJ

ROYAL – Heart of Shadows

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ROYAL’s debut EP brings forth a warm collision of retro and melodramatic aesthetics. Her style recalls the likes of pop contemporary Lana Del Rey, but her uncanny knack for crafting compelling songs of love and independence feels entirely her own. Her majestic vocal delivery shifts between a shimmering falsetto and smooth R&B croons, both of which effortlessly glide over rich and glossy production. Whether it’s the bold, anthemic melodies on “Vessel” or the atmospheric acapella of “Kings & Queens,” Heart of Shadows continuously presents a potent mix of pop and ambience.  – RJ

Swizz Beatz – Poison

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Swizzy is a legend in the game and an all-time producer. On his third studio album, executively produced by J. Cole, he gets back to curating the best he can. Still the hype man, he doesn’t hide behind the bars and gives adlibs for the sharp lyricism spat by the guests. The album is unbelievably New York in its sound. Flipping beats like it’s light work. The LOX show us that no matter how old they get they can still rhyme with the best of them on “Something Dirty/Pic Got Us.” He rejuvenates Young Thug on “25 Soldiers” with a sound that lets the rapper be shown in a new light. While we would love to have heard the mysterious Jay-Z verse, it does keep the focus on the records provided. It’s a short 10-track project but it’s perfect in its lean nature. No track is wasted and if Swizz really has another two projects coming in this vein, we’ll be happy to hear it.  – TJ

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