Dana’s Autumn Playlist
Without a doubt, autumn is my favorite time of year. The air gets that touch of woodsmoke to it, you get to don your favorite sweaters again and, if you live in the Northwest like I do, there’s really nothing like a hike through fog shrouded pines. As a music lover I’m probably not alone in saying that my playlists tend to change with the seasons as well. Every year about this time I find myself stowing away my summer albums in favor of those that are the perfect accompaniment to crisp fall walks and hot toddy nights. Here are my top 10.
Josh Ritter- So Runs The World Away
Josh Ritter’s epic release from last year has everything a good autumn album should. Brimming with imagery of sea going vessels and mummies, as well as Edgar Allan Poe references, the album is a beautifully dark departure from Ritter’s signature heart warming folk. On his website, Josh admits that So Runs The World not only took two years to complete, but sprung from a time when the singer felt like he had a “reckoning in store.” In the end, it was worth it. Critics have hailed it as his most mature and cohesive effort to date and I couldn’t agree more.
The Felice Brothers- Tonight At The Arizona
While much of their catalog boasts raucous, summery sing-along tunes, The Felice Brothers also have a dark side. Part Catskill mountains, part vintage Manhattan, 2007’s Arizona found the Felice Brothers creating their own legends around various down and out characters inspired by their home state.
Elliott Smith- (Anything!)
For all of you scientific types: if you were to make an x,y graph of my musical leanings by season, the colder weather months and my Elliott Smith intake would grow exponentially together. In fact I officially welcomed the season a couple of weeks ago on Facebook with a status that read: “Well folks, Fall is here. All I want to do is wear scarves and listen to Elliott Smith.” Though he was taken from us far too early, Elliott Smith left us with a catalog that consistently rode a brilliant line between post punk and folk, perfect on headphones for those chilly walks to work.
Tom Waits- Nighthawks At The Diner
It’s cold out. And rainy. You’ve been drunk for hours and the only cure is a plate of greasy hash browns served up by a woman named Flo who calls everyone “Shug.” What’s your soundtrack? Nighthawks At The Diner. Part conversational lounge act, part weak coffee and cigarette’s put into song, Waits’ trademark formica wit shines on his 1975 release making it quite possibly, my favorite. Play liberally on cold dinner party nights with friends and sing along.
The Low Anthem- Oh, My God, Charlie Darwin
Hailing from the Providence, RI indie scene, The Low Anthem hit upon a perfect autumnal sound for their third studio album. Dubbed by many critics as “chamber folk” the band is a unique combination of quiet and resonant and along with their heart wrenching lyrics, Charlie Darwin is made for muted, sunny fall afternoons.
The Eels- Electro Shock Blues
Hushed and haunting, The Eels Mark E Everett weaved an album of great philosophical import with 1998’s Electro Shock. With the illness of his mother and his sister’s suicide still fresh in his mind, Everett created a masterful exploration of death and being left behind to live in its aftermath. However, there is also a “light at the end of the tunnel” vein running through the album. Much like autumn itself, Everett’s lyrics seem to propose that life is not only at its most brilliant before death, but that its imminence only makes life that much more worth living.
Nick Drake- Five Leaves Left
Like the certainty of the seasons themselves, my Nick Drake collection is always at the top of my playlist in the Fall. Drake was a master of unique guitar tunings and contemplative, sensitive lyrics. If fall is the time for melancholic philosophy, the short lived and brilliant career of Nick Drake seems its proper soundtrack.
The Velvet Underground- The Velvet Underground & Nico
A quintessential album of any student of rock n roll, the Velvets self titled album is a sometimes sleepy, always effortlessly cool classic. So cool in fact, I believe it’s best played in cooler months.
Gillian Welch- The Harrow and The Harvest
Eight years in the making, Gillian Welch’s new album was well worth the wait. In addition to its autumn inspired title, The Harrow and The Harvest features Welch and Dave Rawlings doing what they do best: writing and recording some of the best new songs around, all while staying true to the traditions of American folk music. Melancholic, sweet, and timeless this album is made for a fall drive on the outskirts of town.
Matt The Electrician- Animal Boy
If you haven’t heard Matt The Electrician yet, I’m just going to allow the video below to speak for me. Hopefully its sweet simplicity makes you an instant fan and causes you to add his 2009 release of the same name to your autumn playlist.
What are your favorites?