Henry: I am so excited for Autumn; the intensity of Summer’s over and Christmas schmaltz hasn’t taken over yet. Now’s prime jumper-wearing weather and music-listening season. The sentimental stickiness of summer music is an August memory, and my iPod isn’t all Zooey Deschanel covering Christmas songs yet. Instead it’s as hopeful as a crisp morning walk through a forest, or like waking up and realising there’s a new episode of The Mindy Project to watch.
Michael: While perhaps a little bit less excited than Henry for this most contemplative of seasons, autumn is my favourite season too (though this is mainly down to the flexibility it offers my wardrobe choices more than anything else). In the television world, Henry may be excited by Mindy Lahiri and her tumultuous love life (Max is in that now!? Here we go!) and I by the new season of Survivor, but in the music world I think we are both excited for the music that best suits the leaves changing colour and our livers’ slow deterioration (it’s our last year – cut us some slack y’all!).
Atlas – Real Estate
H: I have Real Estate’s new album, along with Oppenheimer’s second, saved in a Spotify playlist called ‘Starbucks morning’ and that’s a pretty big compliment. Real Estate are my ideal band; they’ve got the emotional core of Nada Surf, a super light alternative-rock touch and some pretty sophisticated guitar action. In fact, this is exactly the witty sensitive-guy rock that Stephanie Savage would pick for the opening scenes of a Gossip Girl or The O.C episode. It’s what’s playing as Serena wakes up in the morning, turns on her coffee machine and looks out over the Upper East Side from her penthouse window and regretting the most recent European conman she slept with. It’s what’s playing as Ryan walks over from the pool house to grab a bagel from Sandy and tell Seth about how he can’t date Marisa anymore because she only has one facial expression. It’s also the type of music that makes me want to spend four bucks on a coffee, buy something from Whole Foods and walk down a strip mall in America somewhere (but like, a classy strip mall that has a J. Crew and Madewell). Why is alternative rock so closely linked with Capitalism in my brain, Michael? Why am I still so obsessed with the inner-(non)workings of super-rich, super-blonde Upper East Siders?
M: Oh I love J Crew and I think I’ve solved your brain teaser. Teenage years = Gossip Girl + O.C. / GG & OC + New York = Teenage Dream (also Katy Perry) / Indie rock = Teenage soundtrack. Therefore indie rock represents our teenage dreams to live in New York and party with the super rich and famous. Right? Anyway Real Estate are fantastic and pretty well suited for right now. I don’t think they can really lightly rock my November when it gets real cold but while the sun still shines and I can still justifiably wear flip-flops, they’re just perfect. I was always the good one at Maths.
Fiver – RICH GIRLS
H: Somewhere over the last year, I got a little bored of dream-pop. I think that’s largely my fault; I wore out Beach House’s two albums and Passion Pit’s slower songs. But it’s made its way back into my playlists via RICH GIRLS’ irresistible sound. They’re the perfect college band; in a parallel universe, they’re playing a gig in a Bret Easton Ellis campus novel. Their sophomore EP Fiver is moody enough to avoid sounding too twee and it’s downright rocky in parts (‘Get You High’ sounds like a missing track from a Delta Spirit album). The lead single, ‘Worse’ sounds like an out-right (college)radio-hit with its undeniable hook. That that hook is buried amongst downer lyrics and a grungy orchestration only makes me like RICH GIRLS more.The EP’s out October 7th, and you can check the band out on their Facebook here.
El Pinter – Interpol
M: Interpol pretty much made me the music fan I am today. And I know that that is so cliche it hurts for kids of our generation but Turn on the Bright Lights genuinely blew me away. Having lived in my brother’s Man Utd/Sum 41 shadow until 2002, Interpol and Southampton football club brought me out into my own person with my own tastes. And as someone who owns the full Interpol discography, I was dismayed when I first heard their last, self-titled effort. To sum up, the re-invention sucked. El Pintor makes up for that disappointment a whole lot. A return to that dark indie rock that first gripped me over a decade ago, combined with a touch more, much needed, hopefullness has made this my record on repeat the last couple of weeks. Listen to the fantastic Everything is Wrong and just try and not be drawn back into your early 00s bohemian self. Henry, I know you and I were never quite as big fans as José, but what do you make of this?
H: Just quickly: Sum 41’s ‘With Me’ is a track that instantly takes me back to being 16. Interpol is my brother’s favourite band and so I’ve always felt they were kind of his band. That’s stupid of me and now I appreciate Interpol in their rightful place in musical history (Amongst other accolades, being liked by José). That said, El Pintor just makes me a bit sad. It’s a bit of a dead-eyes, Britvention (Britney reinvention) for me. It all sort of works, and it seems to be doing the right thing but something’s missing. That’s probably not their fault; we’re not sixteen anymore.
Transatlanticism Demos – Death Cab for Cutie
H: Last year, Death Cab re-issued Transatlanticism for its 10th (10th!) anniversary. It passed me by somehow but now is a perfect time to get back into Death Cab. I’ll be a Death Cab apologist until I die; ‘The Ice Is Getting Thinner’ is one of my favourite, favourite songs of all time. I can go on about that song for hours but essentially it’s a quintessential Death Cab: heartbroken, peaceful and cautiously hopeful (which is also not a bad attitude to apply to life). Anyway, I can’t really believe that Transatlanticism is ten years old because I remember it so intimately as one of the first albums I ever listened to properly. My older brother used to play it with his friends and I thought it was so cool because I was, and remain, a professional Younger Brother. It’s also insanely accessible: ‘The New Year’ and ‘The Sound of Settling’ are early ’00s, golden era radio-rock. The album’s the purest, Seth Cohen distillation of soft-rock which is infinitely more my speed than say, 2014’s bizarro reggae-rock trend (I simply cannot deal with these guys on any level). The original album’s actually quite exceptional for Death Cab; its tone is prevailingly poppy which made sense for when it was released in their careers. 2013’s demo album strips the tracks down and without that layer of polished production, it’s a much more recognisably Death Cab experience: restrained reflection and hopeful resignation.
M: The last sentence there sounds like it a Death Cab for Cutie lyric, that’s how beautifully it sums up the tone and feel of this album (well done Hen!). As someone who came to Death Cab after falling madly in love with every single thing about the Postal Service, I was a little late to this melancholy party. Regardless, it’s quite amazing that Transatlanticism is ten years old. I’m pretty sure ten year old me never quite got to grips with this record but modern day, equally skinny, me is finding a genuine beauty in these demos. If you missed their release last year, now is the time to delve in and explore those deepest and most complex parts of your soul. Or just sit back and let it wash over you, either or.
Love Me Harder – Ariana Grande ft. The Weeknd
H: I don’t want you to think that I’m living in a post-summer wasteland; I still have a heartbeat. There are going to be some good pop albums this autumn – obviously we’ll be able to divide the cultural year before and after Taylor Swift’s October album release – but Ariana Grande’s set a solid footing for her peers. The best songs on ‘My Everything’ are the duets (see also: Gambino’s verses on the heart-stomping ‘Break Your Heart Right Back’) but ‘Love Me Harder’ is the most revelatory. The Weeknd can be pretty dry (I say this as someone who’s seen him in concert) but being paired with Grande’s falsetto reveals his sexy side. That ‘And in the moment, if you bite your lip’ line is seriously undeniable. But what these albums mostly make me think is: Where the fuck is Rihanna? I need a ‘We Found Love’ to sustain my 5ks through the winter.
Evergreen – Broods
M: As Henry emphasises above, we are not struggling with June Gloom (incidentally, also the name of a decent Big Deal album that almost made this list) or summer woes. My playlists suddenly aren’t full of The National and White Lies and my neck isn’t suddenly covered by scarves or polo necks. Autumn doesn’t have to be that depressing! The fantastic but criminally under-recognised debut LP from New Zealand duo Broods, as its title aptly suggests, is a record that sounds good all year round. Listen to L.A.F. (loose as fuck … apparently) or Bridges if you haven’t yet and feel good about winter again; who doesn’t love a good bit of Femtronica now and again anyway!?
H: Wait, is ‘loose as fuck’ something I now have to get used to? I am obviously down for that. I enjoy Broods but they’re a little heavy on the love-as-inescapable-downer. Is that just me? I just feel like I need space after listening to them. I don’t know; I’ve been listening to a lot of Fergie recently.