While interviewing the band Dream Boys recently, I noted that their jangly new album seemed perfectly timed for fall. That got me thinking of other recent music that is well-suited for cardigan weather, the kind of records you want to snuggle up to when it starts to get cold out. So lots of EDM—j/k! Here are some records to get cozy up with on this first of October.
Dream Boys – Dream Boys
Just as genres like Paisley Underground, C86 and college rock gave ’60s sunshine pop an ’80s makeover, Dream Boys take a modern, emotionally gray yet laid-back approach to producing a detailed guitar-oriented sound. Enjoy poring over the jangly riffs of Dream Boys and read my interview with the band here.
Blouse pulled a bold move for its second album, especially considering the band is still up-and-coming, by radically changing its sound, forgoing the synth-heavy sound of its debut for a pretty straightforward rock sound incorporating new wave and alt-rock elements. It pays off, as Imperium is one of the season’s best rock albums, pairing dreamy vocals and lyrics with an emotionally direct sound.
Unlike their first two albums and two EPs, which hook you instantly, Crystal Stilts’ latest album is a grower. I always love fall to catch up with albums that go by the wayside in favor of more grabbing albums, and Nature Noir has a wonderful campfire vibe that should sound great this season.
Like the latest album by her former band Crystal Stilts, the second album by Frankie Rose has been unfairly written off by some critics. It’s true that first single “Sorrow” was a carbon copy of her hit “Know Me,” but the rest of the album is actually more consistent than her debut, Interstellar, especially its closing run of new wave jams, culminating on high point “Street of Dreams.”
“Reflektor,” the first single from the album of the same name by Arcade Fire, went as far disco has the band has ever let themselves go, with terrific results. But I’m betting the rest of Reflektor will have a lot more of the kind of subtler moments the band perfected on albums like The Suburbs. Their balance of inward-looking reflection and outward-facing bold expression is always what’s made this band special, and I expect nothing short of greatness from Reflektor.
The return of Mazzy Star has been one of the nicest musical gifts of the year, and at just the right time. The organ-laden “In the Kingdom” wraps around you like an electric blanket, whereas songs like “Lay Myself Down” have a lovely moonlit quality that make the early nights seem not so bad.
Case’s latest is her most mature, involving work yet. It’s deeply personal, dealing with her struggle with depression, but it’s also invigorating—“I’m gonna go where my urge leads no more, swallowed, waist-deep, in the gore of the forest” she sings on the waltzing “Night Still Comes.”
Mark Kozelek (Red House Painters, Sun Kil Moon) tends to make music that’s perfect for a winter chill, as it can be emotionally insular. But his latest release, his fourth of the year, a collaboration with some of his former bandmates who are now in Desertshore, is more upbeat and observational than lonely and pensive. Some of the songs have a straight-up country jangle (“Hey You Bastard I’m Still Here”) and some just feel like walking home with leaves falling across the road (“Seal Rock Hotel”).
It’s not easy to explain Julianna Barwick’s music, which consists of Barwick’s vocals, which call out wordlessly into cathedralesque reverb, with minimal backing of strings and piano. It’s beautiful on the surface, but in a sense it reminds me of Marina Abramovic’s “The Artist is Present” piece, in which she sat in a museum and had attendees sit and face her, which sometimes caused them to break into tears. Left without concrete details, Julianna Barwick’s music reflects your emotions back at you, with stunning results.
Cass McCombs has already proved one of the finest singer-songwriters around on albums like Wit’s End and Catacombs. He’s due back soon with Big Wheel and Others, featuring “Brighter,” with vocals from the late actress Karen Black, and the back porch jam “There Can Only Be One.” His new album is a 22-song opus, making room for road songs, rock, folk, blues, country, ballads and more. Pick it up Oct. 15 from Domino.
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