Albums for the Fall: Seven Albums that Aid in the Transistion from Summer to Winter

The summer calls for music to serve as the soundtrack for open window car rides and outdoor escapism. But as Fall settles in, the car windows get slowly rolled up and the sunlight and warmth that once allowed for quality porch time and backyard barbecues is all but gone. So what is the soundtrack to sweatshirt weather and a return to indoor activity?

Well it doesn’t carry the same oppressive and somber tones that winter music often does, but it does suggest a slow and methodic change from the boisterous to the relaxed. So if you are starting to feel cabin fever already, or you find yourself fighting off the urge to let the blustery winds of autumn into your car, these albums will help in your transition.

Lewis & Clarke – Bare Bones & Branches (2005) Summersteps Records

In the fall time seems to slowdown, and while the second hand on your clock might still be moving with the same speed, moments ache to expand. Lewis & Clarke’s music attempts to do the same thing. Their hushed folk and soothing vocal lines turn a couple of minutes into a meditative event.

Singer/guitarist Lou Rogai rests somewhere between Elliot Smith’s desperation and The Silver Jews poetic playfulness. The songs may be pensive but are still optimistic thanks to some frolicking percussion and Rogai’s often chipper delivery. Lewis & Clarke know things need to slow down now that the summer is gone, but that doesn’t mean they can’t maintain a sunny disposition.

Mogwai – Come On, Die Young (1999) Matador Records

Mogwai don’t so much play songs as they do movements. Their brand of repetitious slow-core is filled with haunting notes being picked from clean electrics and drumbeats that seem almost mechanical in their consistency. While this may seem like the morose dabbling of a winter album, Mogwai throw in some sudden blasts of summer heat that show us we aren’t that far from the vacation season yet. After slowly swaying with an air of indecision Mogwai will suddenly burst forth with blatant certainty that they need to rock. These moments of catharsis act as the one tree that still holds its golden leaves among its skeletal neighbors.

Elvis Costello – King of America (1986) Columbia Records

While Elvis Costello may be best known for his often quirky and chipper songs that lament lost loves, King of America is a return to their basics. Costello stands like that bare tree in the fall, playing songs rooted in folk, country, and blues-rock, without all the adornments of some of his previous works. His lyrics are insightful and touching, a mix of poetry and heart-on-the-sleeve confessions. King of America doesn’t represent the passions of the summer, or the loss of the winter; instead it channels the longing and introspection of the fall.

Death Cab for Cutie – Something About Airplanes (1999) Barsuk Records

Airplanes is the type of album that moves from plodding to meandering to a light jog. Death Cab never hit the extremes here, but instead find a niche somewhere in the middle that suits them well. The slow moving and emotionally ripe numbers may make you feel like your winter hibernation has begun, but then a charming pop number full of playful picking and singer Ben Gibbard’s perfect melodies shows up and gets your toe tapping. Maybe it’s a pop album that isn’t too bright, or an emo album that isn’t too sentimental, but either way it is an excellent and honest piece of music that is both warm and comforting.

The Meat Puppets – Meat Puppets II (1983) SST Records

The fury of punk rock is best reserved as summer music, with its fast tempos, aggressive singing, and brash guitar work, it is the type of thing to get you pumped up and ready to go. So what happens when a punk band experiments with roots rock elements like country? You get Meat Puppets II. This is a punk album for the fall with its lo-fi acoustics and warped sense of beauty. The Meat Puppets are like punk rockers from the backwoods, guys who can appreciate the log cabin aesthetic and the mix of colors in the fall.

Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002) Nonesuch Records

Wilco are full of the driving energy you will need to fuel your hands-in-pockets walks around the neighborhood. Their alt-country and Americana tainted indie-pop are packed full of energy but delivered in a modest and unperturbed manner. This is the perfect music for kicking piles of freshly raked leaves or taking that first hey ride of the season. Summer has ended, but Wilco still want to rock. They have just found the right instrumentation (acoustics, pedal steel, an array of percussion, clean electrics) to suit that autumn mood.

Weezer – Pinkerton (1996) Geffen Records

After a surprisingly bright and well-written debut in 1994 Weezer returned with a fuzzy and blustering sophomore album. While still as melodically powerful as its predecessor, Pinkerton packed more bite and seemed to have a strange shadow cast over even its love songs.

The nerd rock vibe, as well as the killer melodies, is still present, but the subject matter often becomes more dark and uncomfortable. From love of an underage fan to a relationship metaphor that consists of locking a butterfly in a jar only to find it dead the next day, this is not a bright album. In the end Weezer combine some summer music with some winter emotions to create an amazing fall album.

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