Pumpkin-spice flavored everything, cloudy weather and the first cool breezes since February. Autumn is finally here. As we move away from the heat that has plagued Austin for most of this year, an entirely new atmosphere opens up for us to experience our everyday lives. Whether you’re studying for midterms, walking to class or sipping on coffee to keep warm, these albums will be sure to compliment the fall season well.
Heavenly harmonies, acoustic guitars, mandolins and woodwinds: One can almost hear the leaves cracking on Fleet Foxes’ sophomore record, an album that fits autumn like a glove. Helplessness Blues is an expansive musical journey that details many facets of life, with hooks that won’t get out of your head, in a good way. This album fits as a soundtrack for both foliage-watching and an afternoon coffee, evoking a sense of the changing season around you. Standout tracks are “Helplessness Blues,” “Lorelai” and “The Shrine/An Argument.”
Drizzy’s somber and contemplative Take Care is his smoothest release. Gushing mood from the moment it begins, this album trails and traverses through the mind of one of our biggest modern superstars. The atmosphere evoked is subdued, and compliments a warm living room better than the club. Take Care’s soothing R&B elements would be great to listen to while relaxing near a fireplace during a cold autumn rain. Considering most students don’t have fireplaces in their apartments though, maybe the Flawn Academic Center’s fake ones will have to suffice. Standout tracks are “Over My Dead Body,” “Crew Love” and “Lord Knows.”
A classic of the hippie era, Van Morrison’s poetic Astral Weeks is a stream-of-consciousness record that intertwines life with nature. His improvised white soul singing style, atop a folky jazz ensemble, makes for a sound that is just as fresh now as it was in 1968. Songs bleed into each other and form a single narrative, rich with deep metaphorical lyrics that can be analyzed for days. It’s great background music for a post-midterm fall afternoon of reflection. Standout tracks are the epic “Cypress Avenue” and “Madame George,” which together total to be nearly 17 minutes long.
The creeping chills of fall are our first taste of the cold times ahead. Shallow Bed, the debut record from English indie folk rockers Dry the River, accompanies the impending winter perfectly. Lead songwriter Peter Liddle’s dulcet and weary vocals reach both the subtle emotion of introspective ballads and power of stadium-ready anthems in stride — usually in the same song. It’s a perfect accompaniment to dreary cold days like the ones we’ve had recently, where walking to class feels more like Seattle than Austin. As an added bonus, the band released a fully acoustic version of the album — and it’s amazing. Standout tracks are “The Chambers & The Valves,” “Demons” and “Weights & Measures.”
Canadian artist Feist’s record Metals is a spacious album that delivers inventive indie baroque pop. Feist’s crooning soprano voice weaves and wanes, and the seemingly minimalist production offers plenty of space for her voice to go. The ballads hit hard, and much like Dry the River, she is able to bring songs from quiet delicacy to epic heights seamlessly. Metals is great to have softly playing in the background while studying, or more attentively while finishing off that bottle of wine. Standout tracks are “How Come You Never Go There,” “A Commotion” and “Comfort Me.”