Colder than before, but not yet wintry, and certainly not Christmassy, it can only be Autumn.
Yo La Tengo – “Autumn Sweater”
It’s mindblowing what three talented musicians and songwriters can do with two people hitting and shaking stuff and one playing some sort of magical electronified piano. There are so many reasons to love Yo La Tengo and this is right up there. If you don’t know them, dive in to their back catalogue at any point and feel the quality, or grab a copy of Prisoners of Love: A Smattering of Scintillating Senescent Songs: 1985–2003, which compiles much greatness from the band’s first 18 years in its two or three discs (depending on which version you get)
Teenage Fanclub – “Fallen Leaves”
When you’ve come up with an album as good as Bandwagonesque so early in your career it must be tempting to wonder if the rest won’t become nothing more than an afterword. A good idea, then, almost a decade and a half later to come up with an album – Man-made – and a track – “Fallen Leaves” – that strongly suggest otherwise.
The Clientele – “Harvest Time”
For years The Clientele put out albums of gently reverb-laden beauty, existing in a vague space somewhere between late ’60s beat and the moments of sweet contentment just before those times when you’re falling asleep and reach that near-dream state that makes you say weird things. And for years, more or less, they were ignored at home in the UK, finding more success in America. Harvest Time is just one of many perfect examples of why this is such an unfortunate oversight.
Inspiral Carpets – “She Comes in the Fall”
British language pedants would do well to observe that fall and autumn were once interchangeable. Much like the word “maths” seems to suit the British penchant for pluralisation (see also physics et al and how we talk about entities like football teams and rock bands), where the alternative and once happily used “math” was exported to America and gained popularity, that we seem to prefer “autumn” to “fall” does not make one more correct than the other. Romantic sounding, perhaps, but not correct.
Catchers – “Song For Autumn”
Catchers split after just two (lovely) albums. Both Mute and Stooping to Fit come alive on the vocal interplay between Dale Grundle and Alice Lemon. In 2008 Grundle, recording as The Sleeping Years, released We’re Becoming Islands One By One, and more recently made some old Catchers demos and recordings available on Soundcloud, but
Lambchop – “Autumn’s Vicar”
If I was to recommend a Lambchop album for an “Essential albums you must own, or choose your own collection, what do I care” feature, I would unhesitatingly plump for Nixon (2000). If I was to recommend two Lambchop albums, I’d add its successor Is A Woman (2002). It’s a lengthy effort, tracks repose languorously for five or six minutes, gently fanned by soft orchestration and Kurt Wagner’s croon/growl. A good recent companion piece might be Elbow’s The Take Off and Landing of Everything (2014), in which nothing very startling happens, and where there is much pleasure to be found in the ongoing not-happenings.
Now Autumn’s fire burns slowly along the woods and day by day the dead leaves fall and melt.