Autumn is upon us in the northern hemisphere, and all remnants of the swollen, lustful last third of summer have faded away. Soon, the weather will turn and the trees will begin to shudder, reminding us of our cyclical mortality and inevitable demise. July and August are for sweaty partying and gettin’ lucky, but just like the morning after any decent self-destructive spree, fall is the time for us to contemplate our existential meaninglessness and the eventual decay of our flesh … right? Say goodbye to patio beers and lounging in your jorts; change can be painful, and I’m coming down hard this year. Fortunately we can ease into the nadir of winter’s petrification by celebrating the most wistful season with those songs that help take the edge off all that damn introspection. Polaris — Music From the Adventures of Pete and Pete The 90’s gave birth to a new level of self-awareness in rock music. This can usually go two general directions: snark or vulnerability. Without being cloying or contrived, Polaris pull off vulnerable with more smiles and shrugs than mopes. Often as heartwarming as Pete’s lessons learned, this album of jangly pop-rock will bring you back to your chewing-gum, soda-pop days. It’s OK you’re a loser; that’s cool now. Check out: “As Usual” … http://youtu.be/TY5FEKjqvAQ And “Waiting for October.” http://youtu.be/kgcbQ0xCWMM Okkervil River — The Stage Names Singer Will Sheff embodies that peculiar autumnal ennui on his band’s cinematic 23xx release. He shouts, croons, and preaches his disillusionment over feverish, glorious folk rock; it’s simultaneously comforting and unsettling. You’re both in the shit, you and him, but at least you’re in it together. Listen to: “Our Life Is Not A Movie or Maybe. ” http://youtu.be/ROlCPlnCIfo The Mountain Goats — All Hail West Texas John Darnielle’s voice, both literary and vocal, is undeniably compelling. The stories he spins over this record document a fictional couple’s best and worst times, with characters that maybe remind you a little too much of yourself. He illustrates vivid tales, among them “The Fall of the Star Running Back.” Previous Mountain Goats records are famously lo-fi; the tape hiss and thin production may be off-putting to the uninitiated, but with repeated listens you realize that this music couldn’t sound any better. Listen to: “The Mess Inside.” http://youtu.be/7YRWzxYS_nM Marketa Irglova — Anar This is the first solo album Marketa released after her breakthrough run with Glen Hansard in the film Once and their subsequent release, Strict Joy (both of which are paramount entries in the fall music canon ~ STM). She collaborated with Pakistani percussionist and musician Aida Shahghasemi to create this lovely, achingly wistful collection of songs. With her delicate piano playing and singing in the foreground, Irglova layers vocals, horn arrangements (that warm you like cider), skeletal strings and glowing, moving background vocals. The result is a thoughtful, elegance, and honest songs that are directly engaging. Listen to: “Go Back.” http://youtu.be/xzpqs8XbdIM
A scene of fall in the Pacific Northwest.