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Thursday Discussion: Essential Fall Listening

Posted by: Drew Beringer (10/03/13)
As the leaves start falling and the nights get colder, music becomes an even greater companion when the temperatures start to dip and the winds pick up. I've rounded a handful of AP.net staffers to recommend their favorite albums to put on the turntable when the days get shorter. Spanning from indie to hip-hop to post-hardcore, this eclectic list will have something for everyone and will inspire many fall playlists. Check out our picks in the replies and let us know what records you turn to in the fall.
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11:53 AM on 10/03/13
Drew Beringer
Senior Editor - @drewberinger - Locked Groove
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Essential Fall Listening

All The Day Holiday - The Things We've Grown to Love
Why It's Essential: I'm not sure if it's the band's PureVolume profile picture (that hasn't changed since I discovered the band years ago), their cover of "Christmas Time is Here" or album opener, "Autumn" but All The Day Holiday has always fit into this time of the year for me. Give the entire album a go, but its "La Voyage" and "Cities" that still do it for me to this day. For fans of Moving Mountains, The Graduate, Death Cab for Cutie. [AS]

Bon Iver - Bon Iver, Bon Iver
Why It's Essential: It's already an instant "cold rainy" (oh, let's be honest: Oregon weather) classic for me. It's 2am right now, the wind and rain are coming down ... and this album is the soundtrack to trying to remember where I put my rain coat. [JT]

Brand New - The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me
Why It's Essential: There's something about this album that I've always associated with fall. I can't quite put my finger on why, but a good winter ale, the fire, the darkness -- it all draws me in. I can listen to this album virtually any time of the year, but I love it in the fall. [JT]

Cursive - Cursive's Domestica
Why It's Essential: Cursive's Domestica is an album too introspective for carefree summer days, but too angry for sleepy winter days. It only makes sense to listen to a marriage falling apart as the leaves fall from trees. This album will always remind me of transitioning from my final summer before high school to the fall in which I became a freshman. [ZD]

Christie Front Drive - Christie Front Drive
Why It's Essential: 90s emo is my go-to genre in the fall, and for me there's no album better than Christie Front Drive's only full-length. From "Saturday"'s soft intro that lulls you in, to the fade-in on "Fin," to a song called actually "November," this album is perfect for fall. One of the most soothing albums I know, this is a fitting accompaniment to days of sweaters, colored leaves, and bare trees. [ZD]

Dear and The Headlights - Small Steps, Heavy Hooves
Why It's Essential: The definitive mix of hooks, rawness and emotion in an indie rock record...Small Steps, Heavy Hooves is a debut album that's considered a classic by myself. Severely under-rated and over-looked by the vast majority it's a record that conjures up feelings similar to Jeff Buckley's Grace for me except with an extra kick to gut via the percussion/pounding bass and a slap around the face with the distortion. Everything is laid bare in what is essentially a fantastic break up record. There's the acoustic tracks, the voice cracks, the yelps and shouts and everything needed to vent any frustration or mood you may be feeling. A fitting end to see out the summer and soundtrack your autumn time. [KH]

Death Cab For Cutie - Plans
Why It's Essential: It was raining the first time I heard Plans. I really can't think of a more perfect environment for this record. The dark beauty of the album cover depict exactly what this record is. Has Ben Gibbard ever been more haunting than here? Debatable, I'm sure, but how can anyone shake piano-laced lines like "Your love is gonna drown" or "The memories of me / Will seem more like bad dreams / Just a series of blurs / Like I never occurred / Someday you will be loved." Every time I near the end of this record, I still have to take a deep breath before "What Sarah Said" into "Brothers on a Hotel Bed" - probably the hardest hitting back-to-back pair of songs I've ever encountered. Everything about this record was made for these months, and for that alone with all these personal ties to it, this record still holds title of my favorite Death Cab record. [RG]

Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
Why It's Essential: Everything about Helplessness Blues feels like it was made specifically to feel like a pastoral autumn, from the front porch strumming and harmonizing on "Montezuma" and the Americana-esque violins on "Bedouin Dress" to the lush and absolutely perfect end of the title track, where singer Robin Pecknold evokes rustic imagery, singing, "If I had an orchard / I'd work 'til I'm raw / If I had an orchard / I'd work 'til I'm sore." Just because summer is over and the days are getting darker doesn't mean it's time for a less invigorating music experience; autumn is a time of exceptional beauty. Helplessness Blues fits perfectly with a crisp autumn breeze, the warm reds and oranges that cover the trees, and the distant smell of campfire. [AD]

The Horrible CrowesElsie
Why It's Essential: For seasonal features like these, I'll usually prefer to dig deeper into my catalog and highlight a record that's been out for several years – something that has proven itself as a joy during specific times in the year. But Elsie became my go-to record for fall immediately upon its release. The record's most timeless quality lies not in Brian Fallon's songwriting – although it may be his best to date – but in its production. Opener "Last Rites" lays a foundation for the feelings you'll experience throughout the album, inflecting warmth and subtlety leading into the wonderfully cozy "Sugar." Even when Fallon shifts into that extra gear he has vocally, like in the jaw-dropping outro of "Go Tell Everybody," you still feel right at home – he never takes you out of the comfortable place you live in while this record is spinning. "Black Betty & The Moon" remains the album's strongest point; when the dual vocal tracks kick in during the bridge – "And they want you to doubt every trust that you've known, and they wanna find the holes in the armor exposed" – it teleports you out of your everyday worries and into a safe haven. Give this one a spin when the temperatures just begin to dip in your area. [TN]

I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody's Business - The World We Know
Why It's Essential: You can argue all you want, but I'll say all day that The World We Know is Ace Enders' magnum opus, and this time of year always reminds me of why. From the moment the eerie soundscape begins before a distanced guitar and Enders ethereal voice sneaks in on "Sleep Means Sleeping," you close the blinds and let nothing else distract you from this record. The entire album thrives on atmosphere - from Enders' calm and delicate vocal delivery through the intricate but never distracting layering and noises. Although the album cover depicts a bright landscape, this album is anything but. Moments like the absolutely disarming singing of "Cause you've got me on my knees" in "Old Man..." still send chills down my neck. This is a record that suits me best around midnight with a sweatshirt on, and every fall, it's a standard go to. [RG]

Jimmy Eat World - Futures
Why It's Essential: "I always believed in futures, hope for better in November," proclaims the opening line from Jimmy Eat World's greatest record. The track it comes from, the titular "Futures," was meant to be the band's "political song," and it hit during the same George Bush re-election season that brought Green Day's American Idiot and plenty of other works from dissatisfied liberal musicians. For me, though, that line meant something entirely different. Fall 2004 was the season when I really immersed myself in music, and Futures was the eye of the storm. When my step dad lost his job that November, the possibility of moving away from my home and from the only place I had ever known loomed large, and I handled the situation by turning to these songs. We ended up sticking around, and I'm glad we did: I found my life in that town over the next few years; my love of music, my best friends, and the girl I'm going to marry next July. A lot has happened since then and a lot has changed, but when I hear the songs off Futures, from the unrequited longing of "Kill" to the crashing grandeur of "23," the notes echo through the years and take me back to the season where I started becoming who I am today. On cold fall nights, I can still listen to this record and feel exactly the way I did nine years ago. [CM]

John Mayer - Continuum
Why It's Essential: Until he began exploring folk and country music textures last summer, John Mayer had always been a purely autumnal artist for me. From Heavier Things, the first album I ever bought with my own money, to Continuum, one of the records that faithfully soundtracked my first semester of high school, Mayer's older music still holds a time capsule quality that reminds me of long afternoons and dusky evenings spent watching the leaves fall from the trees and the days get shorter. "Stop This Train" is the centerpiece, an elegiac folk tune that hinted at the direction Mayer would take with his last few albums, but plenty of moments, from the desolate guitar riff of "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room" to the organ-drenched intro of "In Repair," from the ricocheting guitar wizardry of "Bold As Love" to the lonely piano melody of "Dreaming With a Broken Heart," still land this album in regular rotation for me every time October roles around. [CM]

Kanye West - 808s & Heartbreak
Why It's Essential: What happens when the biggest hip-hop star loses his mother and turns to music for comfort? You get the most daring and inhibited release of Kanye West's career - 808s and Heartbreak. West's fourth full-length forgoes rapping and turns to his imperfect singing voice and autotune to express his (then) darkest and loneliest thoughts over his most desolate and bleakly produced beats. Working with an 808 machine and scarce instrumentation, West bares his heart throughout, throwing down introspective moments ("Welcome To Heartbreak") amongst his angrier ones ("Heartless"). The biggest moment of 808s is shown on "Street Lights" - programmed strings and keys fall down over a pulsating beat as West muses about being left behind ("All the streets, glowin/Happen to be just like moments/passin' in front of me/ so I hopped in the cab and/I paid my fare/see I know my destination/But I'm just not there/In the streets"). 808s is the only companion you need on those dark, lonely November nights. [DB]

The Killers - Hot Fuss
Why It's Essential: I'll defend to the death that Hot Fuss is one of the greatest pop records released in the new millennium. Not only does it contain some of the catchiest songs ever ("Somebody Told Me" and "Mr. Brightside"), it's undoubtedly a dark record that has always resonated with me once the leaves change. "Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine" and "Smile Like You Mean It" are as electric as they are subdued, only peaking once vocalist Brandon Flowers is at his limit. There's a crispness to Hot Fuss that makes it a perfect soundtrack for when the leaves start falling. [DB]

Lydia - Illuminate
Why It's Essential: From the moment the keys begin "This Is Twice Now," I'm transported with this record. Every single time. The album takes you into its own world - one of beauty, one of coldness, and of course, one of heartbreak. While Lydia have released plenty of great songs and continue to release quality records, Illuminate is my always my go to once the weather cools or the sun goes down. Just some headphones, cool weather, and this record. The lush harmonies between Leighton Antelman and Mindy White and the absolutely gorgeous layering of guitars and drums never cease to amaze me. To me, this record is perfection and timeless. I can't even begin to think about the number of times I listen to it this time of year, but every time different things stand out to me. From the moment I first heard such menacing lines like "Darling, you fucked up" and "Don't you ever get lonely" coated in such intricate beauty, I knew this album was something special - and it still is. [RG]

Pinback - Summer In Abaddon
Why It's Essential: Maybe it's the bleak (yet, self-aware and humourous) tone to the lyrics of this 2004 release that make it seem so perfect for a fall listening experience or maybe it's the use of synths sneaking in the background alongside some of the best marrying of bass and percussion I've heard on an album but whatever it is, you can bet that it all encourages that end of summer feeling. This is the soundtrack to a nostalgic look over the past few months spent in the sun with friends, family, loved ones, failed relationships, flings, drinks and more. Whilst it may have ended only very recently, the feeling can often be magnified when the harshness of a daily routine and more grim weather sets in. Pinback are here to help you ease through it with this record, though. Chin up. [KH]

+44 - When Your Heart Stops Beating
Why It's Essential: Mark Hoppus' first (and only) post-Blink 182 album happened to be his darkest material as well. Released in early November, it's not surprising that I associate the harsher days of fall with When Your Heart Stops Beating. Hoppus holds nothing back lyrically, tackling heartbreak and other desperate situations throughout. It's heavy ("Baby, Come On"), forlorn ("Little Death"), and scathing ("Weatherman" and "No, It Isn't" - the latter rumored to be about blink break-up). It's the best Hoppus has ever sounded and features his greatest songwriting to date. [DB]

The Postal Service - Give Up
Why It's Essential: When I was a freshman in college, my roommate and I would only listened to this record on gloomy rainy days in the dorm room. The steely resolve of Jimmy Tamborello's programming mixed with Ben Gibbard's warm vocals make Give Up my go-to record in the month of October and beyond. The album is full of high's and low's, with the sounds being mechanical and endearing at the same time. The beginning crank of single "Such Great Heights" and the low murmur of "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" are sounds that have been engraved into your sub-conscious - it's brain comfort food. [DB]

The Tallest Man On Earth- The Wild Hunt
Why It's Essential: I don't know what it is about folk music and fall, but the two seem to go perfectly hand in hand for me. Kristen Mattison, aka The Tallest Man On Earth, is easily one of my favorite artists of all time, and The Wild Hunt is arguably his finest album. Throughout the album you'll find little else besides an acoustic guitar and Mattison's unique and emotive voice. It's the kind of stripped down, intimate album that calls for a craft beer of your choice and a beautiful fall sunset. It's an absolutely perfect album for this time of the year. [JJ]

Thursday - War All The Time
Why It's Essential: Being that I'm from the midwest, fall for me is typically filled with a lot of rainy days. War All The Time may not be my favorite Thursday album (although choosing a favorite Thursday album is a damn near impossible task), but the sound of this record is perfect for the kind of overcast, dreary days I'm expecting to see a lot of in the coming months. It's a rather bleak album, but it's still full of the aggressive Thursday personality we all know and love. It also contains "This Song Brought To You By A Falling Bomb," a beautiful piano ballad that breaks up a lot of the fury. If you wake up one day in October or November and you look out the window to a pretty depressing day outside, your best bet will be to throw on this record. [JJ]

Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Why It's Essential: "I would like to salute / The ashes of American flags / And all the falling leaves / Filling up shopping bags." If you pay even a tiny bit of attention to independent rock music you almost certainly have at least heard of this record. Since I was about twelve or thirteen becoming engrossed with this record has been an autumnal tradition for me right up there with pumpkin pie, digging sweaters out of the closet, and cursing yet another disappointing year of Notre Dame football. Musically it is lush and experimental, but also insanely catchy. What has always made me return to this album time and time again however are Jeff Tweedy's heartbreaking and obtuse lyrics. "How can I convince you it's me I don't like," he sings at the beginning of album closer "Reservations," easily one of my favorite lines in the rock 'n roll canon. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is the perfect album for rainy fall mornings, clear and crisp starry nights, and bright and sunny afternoons alike. It's one of my favorite records of all time, and while it gets consistent plays from me year-round I always end up leaning even more heavily on it when the weather gets a little colder and the world sometimes seems to get that way too. [CC]

XO - Some Day EP
Why It's Essential: Say Anything members Jake and Jeff Turner released this little gem back in '09, but these six tracks only get better with time. Take the instantly captivating guitarwork in "High School (Atlanta)," the Postal Service sounding "My Beautiful Girl (Tokyo)," or the infectious "Blizzard (New York" and let the sounds grace your ears. [AS]

ContributorsDrew Beringer [DB]; Andy Biddulph [AB]; Chris Collum [CC]; Anton Djamoos [AD]; Zac Djamoos [ZD]; Ryan Gardner [RG]; Kyle Huntington [KH]; Jake Jenkins [JJ]; Craig Manning [CM]; Thomas Nassiff [TN]; Anthony Sorendino [AS]; Jason Tate [JT]
11:58 AM on 10/03/13
Why do you stay till you see blood?
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NateFoundGlory's Avatar
Relient K's "Forget and Not Slow Down" and Transit's "Listen & Forgive" are two of my staples. I know there are tons more, as I love seasonal albums and music, I'm just drawing a blank.
12:00 PM on 10/03/13
Chris Collum
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I'd take issue with Jake and say Full Collapse is the go-to Thursday record for autumn, but I digress. Also another fantastic fall record is the Counting Crows' August and Everything After, but it's not included here because Craig and I already covered it in-depth last week.
12:00 PM on 10/03/13
Tell it like a comeback story
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f00te's Avatar
American Football for me and The Get up Kids Four Minute Mile.
Also Northstar. Both albums.
12:01 PM on 10/03/13
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American Football - Self Titled


Silversun Pickups - Carnavas?
12:01 PM on 10/03/13
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Steve_JustAGuy's Avatar
Volcano Choir's "Repave" has been doing a lot for me recently.
12:04 PM on 10/03/13
Kill the lights, I've seen too much
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Slangster's Avatar
Nice to see this feature back! Solid list. I especially agree with TDAG, 808s, Elsie, and Hot Fuss.

I'd add Forget And Not Slow Down and Would It Kill You? as well. Perfect fall pop records.
12:04 PM on 10/03/13
in the disenchantment lane
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MelissaMDaniels's Avatar
Round of applause for the "Futures" nod, it is quintessential and was released in October - and I'd add The National's High Violet.
12:05 PM on 10/03/13
Jake Jenkins
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I'd take issue with Jake and say Full Collapse is the go-to Thursday record for autumn, but I digress. Also another fantastic fall record is the Counting Crows' August and Everything After, but it's not included here because Craig and I already covered it in-depth last week.
12:06 PM on 10/03/13
Chris Collum
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Round of applause for the "Futures" nod, it is quintessential and was released in October - and I'd add The National's High Violet.
Come on everyone knows The National is music for the spring, especially that record
12:06 PM on 10/03/13
Chris Collum
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No! War All the Time is actually one of my least-favorite Thursday records

12:07 PM on 10/03/13
Jake Jenkins
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No! War All the Time is actually one of my least-favorite Thursday records

Good for you
12:07 PM on 10/03/13
Let's Talk About Your Hair
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Micah511's Avatar
I have to say that 808s is one of my definitive winter albums, not fall. Also, heavily agree with Illuminate. One of my favorite fall records is Listen and Forgive though.
12:08 PM on 10/03/13
Alex DiVincenzo
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I didn't have time to contribute, but I would have written about Bright Eyes' Lifted and anything from Danzig-era Misfits.
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