Sounds of October

Stereolab, circa 2008; image courtesy of brooklynvegan.com

We’re a week into my favorite month of the year. In Austin, we’re finally getting some semblance of autumn weather. We’re also in the midst of a season where lots of new music gets released. Thus, it seems time to celebrate some music that represents that idyllic time when the air turns crisp and cool and brittle burnt orange leaves gather with shades of ocher and rust and juxtapose with a sky that’s the complimentary shade of a robin’s egg. The Sea and Cake and Van Dyke Parks are two seasonal favorites. Everything on Tavi Gevinson’s witchy music mix would apply. The new one from Mike Watt, Nels Cline, Yuka Honda, and Dougie Brown is sure to make it into rotation. Here are some blog-appropriate selections. Yours are welcome too.

Few acts provide better aural companionship for scarf weather better than Stereolab, an opinion I’m proud to share with media scholar and Twitter acquaintance Derek Kompare. If fall represents, among other things, returning to academic pursuits, than this band make intellectual rigor look easy, obscuring the cross-outs, highlighter stains, and eraser skids that suggest the educational process as surely as they bury their socialist politics under analog kitsch.

Twee gets a bad rap with detractors often missing the politicized amateurishness, irony, and resistance surrounding all the saccharine. Heavenly suggest its irresistible qualities while Thee Headcoatees gleefully bring the subtextual smut to the surface.

Don’t let the college radio staples fool you. Jean Grae is the smartest person in the room.

Singer-songwriter Judee Sill recently got a critical renaissance after decades of obscurity. Her elegant introspection is perfect for solitary walks at dusk and makes the case for why we should listen and remember her.

I’ve been listening to Georgia Anne Muldrow on a consistent basis since spring. I may as well extend it into another season.

Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval and My Bloody Valentine’s Colm Ó Cíosóig capture the season’s hazy qualities.

Austin’s own Soft Healer make music that’s perfect for getting lost in the woods. I was at this show, to the right of the camera.

Magik Markers ramp up the dread when those woods turn ominous and the nocturnal temperature drops.

Sharon Von Etten’s assured vocals will guide you out of the woods. Sandy Denny’s crystalline voice is the clear sky above it all.

Slumberland’s once-forgotten Black Tambourine reminds you that winter’s long dark nights are just around the corner. By that point, I’ll be cozying up to Wooden Shjips and Christmas albums from James Brown and Ze Records. I’ll also be sipping cocoa while revisiting icy offerings from Tim Hecker and Fever Ray, as well as El Guincho’s Pop Negro and Q-Tip’s The Renaissance.

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