For this rendition of Trevor lists a few albums and writes a bit of about them, we’ve got something that perfectly aligns with my album review style – describing things completely in semantics. “Well why does this album rank above the other one?” Heck if I know, it just feels that way. Here I’m getting into albums that remind me of the mild weather of autumn, with days that fluctuate from humid, sticky days to unreasonably cold and wet ones. The feeling of layered clothing, the heat in your car starting up for the first time in months, the pumpkins and squash everywhere, the crunching leaves, the turning of the years, all coming together in one beautiful harmony.
Winter and summer seasonal albums are easy. There are some albums that clearly evoke feelings of summer, say for instance In Colour by Jamie xx and those that are for winter, like Mount Eerie’s Sauna. Fall is a bit more abstract. I asked a panel of Facebook & Twitter friends to supply their fall favorites to confirm I’m not crazy in finding added meaning behind records when it’s autumn time. I got a ton of responses, which you can find below my picks, with an accompanying sample song embedded in the album name.
As for my picks, the theme of light, folky style music is predominant. There’s a sense of that as well with other recommendations – that and jazz. Introspective music. Calming music. This is the kind of music you listen to while sitting down to do homework, stuff to listen to while hiking in the woods, while just sitting and watching the rain fall. What else are you gonna do? Sitting inside, exploring outside, watching the leaves change? Might as well put on a record to keep you company.
American Football – American Football
What: Essential 90s emo album. Obsessed with restructuring, thinking about lost friends and how life moves on without them and without you. High off of nostalgia.
Fall Rating: Fifteen high school crushes out of sixteen. There’s even a song called “The Summer Ends.” Early/90s early 00s emo overall seems to be the best for the fall. I don’t listen to much of it anyways, but that’s what it seems like.
Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest
What: A type of album that describing it as only “indie rock” in 2015 should be a crime. But that puts me in a difficult spot since I can’t think of anything else. Changes from vulnerable to brash song by song. Great songwriting.
Fall Rating: Nine homecoming parades out of fourteen. This also could work for winter but there are also some summery songs on here as well. I think because it came out in the fall of 2010 I always pair it up with the fall. If anything, definitely “Helicopter.”
DJ Shadow – Endtroducing…
What: Awesome mid-90s trip-hop/turntablism/plunderphonics/instrumental hip-hop record. Insanely groovy and satisfying. I’d imagine when this came out in the 90s this just blew everyone’s minds apart. One of the best albums of all time.
Fall Rating: One pumpkin-flavored beer out of seven. Yeah I don’t know why exactly this always reminds me of fall when I listen. I do really like it on days when it’s darker outside than it should be, though. Especially on cold rainy ones. So yeah, that works.
Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
What: Classic indie rock from the late 00s with some snap and dueling lead singers. How cool is that? Masterful control of dynamics. Some more killer songwriting.
Fall Rating: Four glasses of cider out of nine. It’s an all over the place album for me. It’s definitely great and all that but is it an exclusive fall album? Nah. But it does sound pretty nice during this time.
Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me
What: Triple album of sort of folk sort of modern singer songwriter/composer. It’s a simply brilliant album full of ultra-unique vocals and stellar harp & other modern orchestral instrumentation.
Fall Rating: Nine long walks in the woods out of eleven. This is obviously an all-season album, but when else are you going to take the time to observe and appreciate nature around you? Fall! This album is perfect for taking your time to observe and appreciate.
Mazzy Star – So Tonight That I Might See
What: Smoldering dream pop with slow, sultry vocals. Some hints of shoegaze in there.
Fall Rating: Seven chilly sunrises out of ten. Those moments when you have to wake up earlier than usual but then you see the beauty of the morning sun and you’re like “oh damn I could get used to this,” but then you never see it again until you have to wake up earlier than usual again.
The Microphones – The Glow Pt. 2
What: A lo-fi, analog-recorded masterpiece that could be considered folk but contains portions of drone & noise. It has a brutal rawness to it – things are imperfect but that’s what makes it perfect. Fantastic lyrics and pacing. Possibly the most essential fall album on this list.
Fall Rating: Seventeen pine needle forest floors out of thirteen. The best fall album. Sounds like a chimney built onto an old creaky house that’s burning through all your past memories to heat your husk of a body to will it to live another day.
Midlake – The Trials Of Van Occupanther
What: Indie rock/chamber pop/folk rock album from the mid-00s. I actually had never heard this album until this year but my goodness it’s a good one. Has some slight prog elements on it too, believe it or not. Definitely sounds a lot like Grizzly Bear but like, sort of earlier.
Fall Rating: Three and a half Halloween costumes out of five. Another folky, dreamy album added to the list and it ain’t the last one. It’s some good stuff.
Portishead – Dummy
What: Flagship album for the trip-hop genre – AKA a time portal into the sound of electronic/pop music from the late 90s/early 00s. Cold, jazzy & so dang cool.
Fall Rating: Seven slate skies threatening snow out of fourteen. I’ve listened to this one a lot in falls past, so that’s probably what’s attributing to my answer, but it’s pretty decently cold sounding and is good for the steely, blustering days.
Sam Amidon – I See The Sign
What: Excellent “semi-modern” re-workings of traditional American folk songs from Mr. Amidon. Obviously simple songs arranged perfectly. The dude has a decently unique voice as well. Just satisfying folk songs.
Fall Rating: Ten campfire sing-alongs out of thirteen. Nice and heartwarming like a campfire, the first fireplace light of the season or a warming cup of tea.
Slowdive – Souvlaki
What: Shoegaze album extraordinaire. If you haven’t listened to this yet, why? Why are you doing this to yourself?
Fall Rating: Five zipped up mid-heavy coats/unzipped heavy coats out of seven. But this a wonderful record overall, really, so it can double during the winter, spring or summer. See what I did there?
The Smiths – Meat Is Murder
What: College radio stars. My mom listened to them in college and still reminds me about it, which I admit is still cool each time. Jangle pop. Truly influenced so much other college rock after its release.
Fall Rating: Four overpriced textbooks out of five. Better get to class and get sulking about it. Nothing better to listen to than this album in that case. I became a sulk master in two short weeks thanks to this album.
Sun Kil Moon – Ghosts Of The Great Highway
What: A portrait of a grumpy middle-aged man in the making. A highly anecdotal album of folk songs with rock instrumentation and brilliant vocals. Come for the excellent lyrics & storytelling, stay for “Duk Koo Kim.”
Fall Rating: Twenty farmers market string bands out of twenty. Good amounts of rustic acoustic guitar and biting electric guitar to make for a nice contrast, much like the contrasting bright colors and cold temperatures of the autumn time.
Yo La Tengo – I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One
What: Kingpin of college rock. Yo La Tengo’s most well known album and my personal favorite. Slow and relaxing at points, other times energetic and motivating.
Fall Rating: Twelve autumn sweaters out of twelve. Thoughts of college connect to thoughts of fall – new beginnings, lost endings, and long introspective drives. There’s also a song called “Autumn Sweater,” but let’s ignore that for now.
Youth Lagoon – Year Of Hibernation
What: Psychedelic, introspective & nostalgic bedroom pop that sounds like it’s being sung into a canyon. Simple instrumentation of ghostly synths and wispy vocals.
Fall Rating: Five bags of candy out of eleven. Could double for a summer album, I think, due to the inspirational thumping rhythms to some of the tracks, but because of how steeped in nostalgia the songwriting and sound is, it seems to fit quite well in the fall.
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