The two months (or whatever) of the autumn season is probably the only time in the calendar year I can say I’m actually not jealous of those who live in more stable climates. I mean, just look at those colors – pumpkin orange, marigolds and bright red. It’s beautiful, man. Spooky season. Football and chili. Cozying up with a scary movie. Crisp weather and cool fashion. Ghastly decor and candy that we don’t need. Memories and music. Something about the fall is so introspective, nostalgia-inducing, and eerily atmospheric.
This aint your typica fall playlist full yawn-inducing acoustic indie songs tailored to the Pumpkin Spiced Latte crowd. Certain songs, albums, and even particular sounds are associated with the crisp cool air of the autumn season.
Here’s a collection of my favorite songs that perfectly capture the fall atmosphere. (click the song titles for a link to each song)
“Oliver Twist” – Avey Tare
Animal Collective mastermind and prolific weirdo Avey Tare evokes that fall time atmosphere with this hellish grotto of a track. The knocking drums, eerie synths, and unorthodox singing conjures up the perfect level of unforgettable weirdness that leaves this sound echoing through your psyche long after it’s over.
“Lose Your Soul” – Dead Man’s Bones
Believe it or not, the former liability at cornerback in Remember the Titans and current Hollywood megastar Ryan Gosling once made a Halloween themed album with a buddy and a children’s choir. While most celebrity musical pursuits go straight to the trash bin on your laptop, Gosling’s output is actually pretty damn cool. The slow-brooding “Lose Your Soul” sounds like a ghostly ballad created for the soundtrack of children’s horror movie, and that’s a compliment.
“Little Dark Age” – MGMT
It’s like Robert Smith singing over 80’s French synthwave band, Ruth, in the year 2017. Which is great, really. MGMT was in a real awkward place, trying to balance their cheesy synthpop fame with experimental psychedelia. They knocked it out of the park like MLB baseball in the steroid era. This is it, chief.
“I’m Set Free” – The Velvet Underground
Something about The Velvet Underground’s low-fi guitar rock sounds like a dark rebirth and energy that accompanies the changing of the seasons. Lou Reed’s voice quivers and soars through the thumping drums as he sings, “I saw my head laughing, rolling on the ground”. Chilling stuff from one of the most influential bands ever. And that guitar solo, man… whew. This song seems to encapsulate the cool, the creepy, and the beauty of the fall season unlike any other.
“Hollywood Forever Cemetery” – Father John Misty
Is there a better song to brood around to on cool autumn evening? This was the moment the world realized that the former Fleet Foxes’ former touring drummer is a musical force to be reckoned with. Crunchy guitars, swooning melodies, “adderall and weed in my veins”, hooking up in a cemetery over some dead guy’s grave… very spooky. Very rock & roll.
“Where No Eagles Fly” – Julian Casablancas + The Voidz
This electronic-hip-hop-post-punk-metal-industrial jam might very well be the highlight of this list. The bass line and smacking drums lay the sinister groundwork for Casablancas’s detached croons, exploding into a full blown onslaught of terror. Somehow through the towering walls of sound on this track, Casablancas channels some tortured, maniacal genius, and carves out an unforgettably menacing vocal performance. Seemingly the soundtrack to some sort of demented real-life Halloweenish nightmare, “Where No Eagles Fly” is a car crashing into a brick building, in the best way possible.
“Autumn Sweater” – Yo La Tengo
Perhaps an obvious pick, but those synthesizers are the sound of fall in audible form. And no fall playlist is complete without this classic song from Yo La Tengo. Makes you wanna text your crush and cozy up with a spooky movie or something.
“Love Will Tear Us Apart” – Joy Division
Behind the epileptic dance moves and Phenobarbital, Ian Curtis was the deeply disturbed frontman behind the treasured post-punk hit, “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, a track seemingly made for (or at least embraced by) alternative Halloween parties. The disaffected croon of Ian’s ghost haunts the song while Peter Hook’s bass melody dances through the psyche. Forever a fall-time classic.
“She’s Gone Away” – Nine Inch Nails
Watch Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails perform the spooky “She’s Gone Away” to cap off of the most bizarre-WTF-am-I-watching episode [spooky alert] of the greatest show ever produced. And to think, this audible expression of subconscious terror is the most normal part of the episode. Gotta’ light? Effing legendary.
“Golden” – My Morning Jacket
Here’s your token acoustic fall song. However, My Morning Jacket’s “Golden” ain’t some lame indie group with a simple guitar strum and cheesy vocals. This song is downright gorgeous and Jim James’s echoing bellows capture the comforting essence of the season in a way none of those pretentious wannabes can. Listen to this at sunset for full effect. Or play this while stumbling into the cool autumn sunlight in the morning after a joyous night with friends on your way to class or whatever.
“ODB” – Danny Brown
Spastic, maniacal, psychedelic, hedonistic – just how I like my rap music, if you can even call it that. See, most rap music is forgettable a year after listening to it because it has no originality or mood. On the contrary, Danny Brown is a consummate artist, and a master of mood and atmosphere. And the atmosphere on the unreleased bonus song, “ODB”, is psychedelically haunting. The bizarre instrumental and chilling vocal sample give this song that perfectly paranoid psychedelic mood, perfectly suited for all of the weirdness that entails the season.
“Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage” – Blawan
This track sounds like an underground horror themed rave. Heck yes.
“The Mercy Seat” – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Between his gothic aesthetic and doom-ridden sound, no musician channels demons in such a spiritual way like Nick Cave. Hell, half of Cave’s catalogue would fit soundly into a fall music playlist, but “The Mercy Seat” stands out for its epic, chugging, vehement pacing crafted around a deep piano rhythm that conjures up imagery of some sort of reckoning with god before death (the electric chair). Cave’s vocal performance, alternating through paranoid mumbling and spiteful roars, is nothing short of biblical.
“Idioteque” – Radiohead
Quite possibly the greatest song ever created by one of the greatest bands to exist. “Idioteque” is both psychotic and sweepingly gorgeous. And it’s an industrial electronic super-anthem about the inevitable apocalypse, technological slavery, and political tyranny? In the wake of all the world seemingly burning to hell, it’s too perfect.
“Suffocation” – Crystal Castles
This right here folks, is electronic music done right. Atmospheric enough to perfectly blend with fall weather and colors, fun enough to make you want to slam some drinks, and hypnotizing to the point where it makes you feel like serotonin is firing through your limbic system.
“Accordion” – Madvillain
I picture MF Doom holed up in a London flat on a rainy fall afternoon writing rhymes as Madlib mixes up instrumental concoctions from a dusty bin of used vinyls. Madvillain is like autumn comfort food – the type of record you play on a nothing-exciting-is-happening overcast fall day and simply vibe to.
“Alvin Row” – Animal Collective
Ah, yes. Last but not least, a good old psychedelic freakout. “Alvin Row” is a journey both sonically and spiritually, as Avey Tare weaves listeners in and out of a world that sounds something like The Blair Witch project on shrooms. A gorgeous piano melody, bleeps and bloops, twinkling synths, and crushing screams of horror sends you barreling through a haunted roller coaster of a music.