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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Belt

November 2023's music blogger roundtable

Updated: Dec 3, 2023

Bringing together music bloggers to discuss music highlights from November

Our assembled cast of music bloggers and broadcasters return to share their thoughts on November 2023 in music.

Joining 5-9 editor, Andrew Belt, to answer the questions are:

Sophie (otherwise known as Purpl Mac) who is a new music fan lover from Belgium.

She likes to support new indie & alternative music bands by featuring them on her show/podcast, playlists and on social media.

She is also a lover of music on vinyl growing her collection of physical copies and digital copies on bandcamp.

Matthew McLister is a freelance writer and music fan based in Glasgow with a degree in History (University of Glasgow). Passionate about new guitar music and indie bands, he writes features for Gigwise and HeadStuff Media. During lockdown he launched the Blinded by the Floodlights indie website and has even produced his own podcast. By day, he works in Corporate Communications.

Andy Peterson is a music writer for Live4ever Media and runs the Voice of Unreason music blog. In his own words, he says: “I’ve been writing about music for various places on the internet since 2007. So many records, so little time.”

Adam Reeve is an editor/writer + other things-er for various places over many years. Currently for Dead Good Music - a music blog that pairs music and oranges together like you wouldn't believe.

Xenia Evans is the founder of WHAT A TUNE.

She is a former A&R manager, with a background in music PR, editorial, publishing and synch licensing. Xenia is currently part of the team at This Is Music, a management agency which represents some of the biggest names in electronic music.

WHAT A TUNE was started with the ambition of introducing new audiences to the rich world of non-English language music, be it Mexican folk, French hip hop, or Mongolian heavy metal.

Phil Taylor (aka Music Observer) lives in the East Midlands and spends a disproportionate amount of his time listening to music, attending gigs and wearing band T-shirts.

Phil is obsessed with music of all genres, with a leaning towards alt-pop, folk, indie rock and post-punk. He started his blog in 2021 as a way of sharing his feelings about good music; it quickly grew into a fully fledged venture with a focus on new releases as well as live reviews and interviews. He now writes for other publications including LeftLion, The Songbird and Music in Leicester.

5-9: Sophie, you mentioned you were excited about seeing Fazerdaze in last month's roundtable. How was it?

A '5-star show', according to Sophie

Sophie: The Fazerdaze show was a 5-star show. Amelia Murray, the New Zealand female artist at the centre of Fazerdaze, delivered an intimate show. She was touring the UK and Europe alone without her band for budget reasons, but she delivered on all levels. I love when an artist sounds as good, if not better, live as in a studio and it was the case for Fazerdaze. She has new music coming up next year and I am looking forward to it.

5-9: Did you manage to get to the Friendly Fires show, Matthew? How was it if so?

Matthew: I did and it was fantastic! Like most folk, I’m not a massive fan of Monday night gigs, but this one was well worth the journey into Glasgow. Friendly Fires performed their debut album front to back before a selection of six of the best songs from the two albums since. An 80 minute set of Indie-dance bangers and bliss, taking us back to my pre drinking university days. They were on top form and brought so much energy to what is usually a lethargic beginning of the week.

5-9: Adam, SUDS's new album was exciting you in last month's roundtable. Did it deliver?

SUDS's The Great Overgrowth: 'Worth the wait' for Adam

Adam: It sure did! It is a superb album and certainly worth the wait.

5-9: And aside from that, how was November for you, Adam? And for you, Xenia and Phil?

Xenia had a fun time at Pitchfork Paris

Adam: November was quite quiet for me music-wise. In terms of albums, there were only a couple that stood out, but not too many compared to previous months. I had a lot better luck with singles, as a lot of newer artists dropped either their first or second singles. Shout-outs to The Amniotics, Jock and Linfa Kear for delivering something good in these colder times.

Xenia: I went to Pitchfork Paris with MAFRO in November. His show went really well, and I also caught Hagop Tchaparian who played a great set at the festival too. I also conducted my first interview in French (!), speaking to rising Belgian band Glauque (read the translation here.)

Phil: November was a great month, as I think every month has been this year. It was also pretty eclectic in terms of all the stuff I heard. It just constantly amazes me how much brilliant music is out there to be discovered.

It started very strong with some great new music from Wrest, Jack Rasmussen and Hurray For The Riff Raff, and then later in the month Crawlers, Arcade State, The Snuts …

I only got to three gigs but each was honestly top notch: Bleach Lab with She’s In Parties; Soda Blonde; and Charlotte Carpenter. All some of my absolute favourite artists.

5-9: What was the best album for you in November?

I Des by King Creosote was Andy's favourite album in November

Andy: King Creosote's I Des, narrowly from David Holmes – Blind on A Galloping Horse.

Adam: Chartreuse’s debut album Morning Ritual was probably my favourite for the month. I’ve never dived too deep into their music but Alex – fellow editor of Dead Good Music – absolutely adores them and nudged me to give it a go. It wasn’t what I was expecting. I had ideas of warm, acoustic, Fleet Foxes-style sounds but instead it offered a more challenging, experimental vibe that took a second to click. But once it did, I was hooked.

Xenia: Stray Kids - RockStar. I think Stray Kids been the breakout k-pop boy group of 2023. They've been established for a few years now but this year they've broken through internationally with the album going to number 1 in the US and their viral performance at their Billboard Award ceremony debut.

Sophie: False High, True Lows by Scottish band, The Kundalini Genie.

Phil: A tricky question but I’m going to go with Baby Queen [Quarter Life Crisis]! It’s so direct, so bitingly tongue in cheek at times, huge fun and really creative.

Matthew: Technically I’m cheating as it was released on 1 December, but I received an early stream for The Goa Express’ self titled debut and couldn’t get over just how infectious a guitar pop record it was. Psych-laden record with plenty of hooks and earworms aplenty. The Burnley five piece delivered and some with their eagerly awaited debut.

5-9: What's the best song/s you've heard this month?

'Call It Love' by Crawlers is one of Phil's favourite tracks from November

Phil: 'Blue Tuesday' by Frances of Delirium, 'Graveyard' by CLOVES, 'Call It Love' by Crawlers and 'Paper Heart' by Arcade State.

Sophie: If I only choose two: 'Circles' by CIEL - indie rock with grunge influence - and a dream pop song, 'How Lost' by The Fauns.

Xenia: I love 'Piscina' - the new reggaeton tune from Buenos Aires-based Maria Becerra. Channel some South American summer heat to counteract the dark and cold nights we're facing here in Europe.

Matthew: Too many to choose from! New songs from The Smile, Gossip and Confidence Man were definitely up there. And I was eventually won over by ‘Then And Now’ by The Beatles, an emotional final hurrah to the most iconic artist of all time.

My favourite tracks are covered in my latest blog.

Andy: 'Pretty Vicious' by The Struts - cheesy 90s pop-rock, but great nevertheless.

Adam: The Amniotics released ‘HMPB’ which is a heavy, gutsy listen packed with distain and all the guitars you could need. I’m really excited to see where they go from here and into the new year. Olive Jones also released ‘Planes’ which is a less in-your-face tune but has a solid groove and her voice is incredible.

We've now collated the monthly song picks into one, easy-to-find playlist, which also includes picks by 5-9 editor, Andrew Belt, and 5-9 Album of the Month hosts, Karl Blakesley and Kiley Larsen. Listen below:

5-9: What's the best gig you've been to this month?

'Spellbinding': Julie Byrne's performance at Brudenell Social Club wowed Andy

Andy: Julie Byrne at the Brude - spellbinding.

Adam: Queens of the Stone Age at The o2 in London. Genuinely the best gig I have ever been to. They played a couple songs from their first two records, brought out some deep cuts and played some new songs too. Josh dived into the crowd at one point – it was a fantastic night. They have always been great, but they really seemed to have hit another level on this tour.

Phil: I’ve mentioned the few I went to: so hard to choose but perhaps Soda Blonde (supported by Shobsy) edges it by a whisker. It was such a confident and yet relaxed performance, with very tight musicianship and Faye’s vocals exceeded my expectations.

Xenia: Mongol Khan at the London Coliseum was a Mongolian extravaganza; the costumes, the dancing, the music... (I have a soft spot for Mongolian music, especially anything involving the Morin Khuur and Tuvan throat singing).

5-9: December is traditionally a quieter month in the music calendar, but do any of you have any plans/excitement ahead for it?

Bicep are just one of the artists Xenia is looking forward to seeing this month

Xenia: It's looking pretty busy for me. I'm going to Electronica: Vision of Sound V for a showcase on Hungarian, Czech and Slovak electronic music, then French artist Zaho de Sagazan at Village Underground (her album is one of my highlights of the year), then back to Paris for Glauque's show. Finally, I'm excited to see This Is Music management clients Bicep at Drumsheds. It'll be the first time I watch their new Chroma AV DJ show.

5-9: And, as this is the final roundtable this year, tell me your favourite Christmas song.

The Lumineers's 'Deck the Halls' is a favourite of Phil's

Phil: I usually try to avoid Christmas music until December but I recently heard The Lumineers’s new song, 'Deck The Halls'. It’s an achingly sad type of Christmas song and it hits different. Love it.

In terms of old favourites, the original 'Last Christmas' just has some sort of magic to it. It has a great pace and easy rhythm to it, and a kind of careful delivery which makes it stand above a lot of other Christmas offerings.

Matthew: Aside from the obvious, each Christmas I get freaky jnto The xx’s cover of ‘Last Christmas’ as it’s far more intense and atmospheric than the original. Julian Casablanca’s ‘I Wish It Was Christmas Today’ is a whole load of fun as well.

Adam: Nothing gets me in the spirit more than ‘Step Into Christmas’. Elton John isn’t normally my vibe but there’s something about that song that doesn’t fail to get me excited for Christmas.

Xenia: 'Feliz Navidad' is a classic.

Sophie: I am not a fan of Christmas songs but I quite like Deary's cover of '2000 Miles'. Very ethereal, as I like it.

Andy: 'I Was Born on Christmas Day' by St Etienne.

Thanks for taking part in 5-9's November roundtable and thanks to everyone who has contributed this year! Look forward to catching up to look back on January 2024!

To keep up to date with Sophie's shows, podcasts and more follow her on X - @macaronpurpl - or on Instagram - @purplemacpodcast.

For Matthew: @matthewmclister on X.

For Andy: @ArcticReviews on X and @vormusicblog on Instagram.

For Xenia: @whatatuneblog on Instagram, on Facebook and Spotify.

For Adam: @adamsoundsgood and @deadgoodblog on X.

For Phil: @MusicObserver1 on X and @music_observed on Instagram.

For a further deep dive into last month's music, keep an eye out for 5-9's Album of the Month podcast, coming soon.


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