Listen to this track by Teutonic singer, actor, and model Nico. It’s “These Days”, a song as taken from her 1967 record Chelsea Girl, her solo debut. That album is noted by the extremely high quality of songwriting and instrumental talent behind it, including contributions from Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, John Cale, and Tim Hardin.
This particular tune was penned by Jackson Browne, who was a teenager when he wrote the initial iteration of this song. It would evolve later on, and be recorded by several artists including Browne himself later on when he made a name for himself as one of the key figures in the singer-songwriter boom in the early to mid-seventies. Nico was the first to record it in a finished studio version. Browne plays the distinctive electric guitar picking part, accompanying Nico’s distinctively austere and icily distant vocal performance, delivered in her signature lower-register range. All of this is contrasted by a bittersweet wash of strings, added in post-sessions by producer Tom Wilson.
By now, this song has been covered by many, and is perhaps best associated by modern audiences with its use in Wes Anderson’s Royal Tenenbaums. Nico’s recording of this song seems to connect with its active ingredients better than most versions do. And what are those ingredients, exactly? And what does Nico bring to it to make it what it is? Read more
Fall; or is it Autumn? It’s such a great season it has two names, Good People.
Whatever you personally call it, it happens to be my favourite season, with it’s overtones of new beginnings in a new season of colours and campfires and undertones of beautiful melancholy at the thought of summer’s end.
With its arrival comes some new tunes from up-and-coming acts from various points on the map who have generously shared their musical bounty with me. And so, I pass on this cornucopia of sonic riches to you in this first annual Fall Into Tunes showcase.
As you’ve come to expect from the Delete Bin, the sounds and styles found in this showcase are all over the musical map. But, I’m sure there’s something here to delight you, no matter what your personal predilections happen to be. So, as the colourful leaves of a new season make their descent from the branches of a fading summer, get stuck into to these 14 sounds perfect for the time of impending Autumn, even if some of them aren’t exactly autumnal.
Have a listen!
“Little Town” by Air Marshal Landing
Since many of us will also be pale pasty white again soon enough, why not commiserate with this groovetastic indie-rock tune that isn’t afraid to cut a rug? At very least, it’s an upbeat way to kick off a showcase of tunes in Autumn, right?
Air Marshall Landing is a trio – Matt, Cory, and Graham – hailing from right here in the Great White North, recently having put out their debut record from which this song comes You Used To Be Me. You can learn more about them at airmarshallanding.com.
“Laura V” by The Meaning of Life
As we lose the light in the evening, the echoey post-punk meets dreampop sound of New York City’s the Meaning of Life is the perfect soundtrack. This track is a single featured on their Play Fuego EP.
The Brooklyn-based duo mixes the Jesus & Mary Chain with Mazzy Star, and a generous dollop of Blondie, full of serated guitar, airy vocals (courtesy of Marta DeLeon), and sonic spaciousness. You can watch the video for “Laura V” , too of course.
“The Salt” by There’s Talk
San Francisco’s There’s Talk have recently released their EP Tiny Strands, with this song as the lead single, fast becoming a fan favourite. Full of folky melancholy, and balanced with icy-cool electronics, you can understand why.
A highlight here is creative head Olivia Lee’s gentle, far-away voice holding down a melody that takes its time. Fans of Bjork (particularly Vespertine-era) take note! For more information, check out the There’s Talk site.
“Sun City” by Lucas Jack
In the spirit of ’70s singer-songwriters and mainstream radio play of that time comes Michigan-born, Texas-based Lucas Jack, making the sounds of that era into what can be thoroughly appreciated as the sound of Autumn 2013 as well.
This is the title track of his newest record Sun City, a sumptuous piano-driven tune that evokes the rootsy-pop of early Elton John. You can learn all about Lucas Jack at lucasjackmusic.com.
“Brothers & Sisters” by EONS
Toronto’s EONS is the parallel project of Matt Cully and Misha Bower of another band – Bruce Peninsula. Their music is sets the scene for a fading summer and the gathering cold with a sound that seems much older than it is, full of old-timey sepia-toned texture and sense of tragedy. This track is taken from their recent release Arctic Radio.
Intertwined voices, acoustic guitar, subtle strings, and the essence of emotional desolation make this track a late-in-the-day standout. Learn more about EONS at their bandcamp page.
“Scapegoat” by Matt Stevens
A member of British instrumental proggists The Fierce & The Dead as well as being a prolific solo artist, Matt Stevens’ work with solo guitar and loop technology is well-known in local scenes in the UK. Here’s a track from his latest live offering London Looping Festival Live.
Thanks to his dedication to his craft as well as building a fanbase on the Internet, his gene pool of fans is growing internationally. Check out Mattstevensguitar.com to join mailing lists and to get the latest news on a very proactive, innovative artist.
“300 Days In July” by Pete Galub
Native New Yorker, singer, songwriter, and guitarist Pete Galub has paid his dues in bands for two decades, honing his approach all the while. This track is taken from his new record Candy Tears, a song that is less a summer anthem and more of a summer’s lament.
Singer-songwriter Jenn Fiorentino grew up in the suburbs of Toronto on a steady diet of punk rock energy and DIY ethos. She’s taken that base and has built up a an acoustic pop sound that really sizzles. This track is taken from her From Darkness To Light record, an effort that adds a touch of rootsy poetry to ferocious melodic attack.
Can you write a pop song without being repetitive? Sure you can! Well, maybe you and I can’t. But this is what songwriter Scott Alexander from Oakland California does best, using his chops as a classically-trained composer an instrumentalist to get him there. This track is taken from his record Scott Alexander Gets Distracted.
With it’s non-repetitive nature, the song comes off almost like a short-story with a Loudon Wainwright III feel. And for more of them, and more information on his approach, check out ScottAlexanderMusic.com.
“Safe Side” by Bad Cello
Minimalist 21st century synthpop that is not too far up from the musical family tree from its early-80s roots; that’s what Bad Cello delivers. The Bad Cello moniker is driven by Zeno Pirratelli, originally an acoustic project that has morphed into a brittle and spare synth-driven sound that comes off as a sort of Americanized Soft Cell.
“Safe Side” is a single as taken from the EP Finna. You can learn more that EP and about the band at badcello.com.
“Future Fires” by Blinker The Star
Catchy and complex at the same time with a compelling art-rock sheen, Toronto-based Blinker The Star finds the perfect balance. This track was the coda to the new Songs From Laniakea Beach record released at the beginning of the year.
Blinker the Star has released a number of records over a twenty-year period all helmed by principle creative mind Jordon Zadorozny. This past June, the band began playing shows for the first time in 9 years. For more information, check out blinkerthestar.net.
“XXXO” by Smile Swamp Princess
The rock opera is alive and well, but not taking itself so damn seriously with Smile Swamp Princess’s self-titled story about a Space Cowboy and a brooding Princess. This is the opening track of the accompanying EP that stands as a companion piece to their live show.
The Smile Swamp Princess show premiered in New York on September 4 and 5. You can learn more about the show and its creators Megan Lui and Justin Johnson at smileswampprincess.com.
“Mama Tried” by The Dirty Nil
Who says that traditional country music can’t crossover into the realm of crunchy, kick-over-your-amp rock ‘n’ roll? It does so profanely well in the hands of Hamilton Ontario-based The Dirty Nil, a trio of inebriated upstarts who make this song by Merle Haggard into one that could have been about any one of them. Play it loud!
This song appeared on the band’s Summer Mix Tape, Vol 2., where it stands alongside cover versions of songs by Iggy Pop, Guided By Voices, and the Misfits.
“Woke Up” by Zachary Lucky
And speaking of traditional country this time with a decidedly folky edge, 23-year old Zachary Lucky of Saskatoon Saskatchewan takes the beautiful desolation of the prairies, and pours it into an appealingly spare approach to country music in the Townes Van Zandt tradition that sounds as if the dust of a lonely road is still on it. This track is taken from the winningly-titled album The Ballad of Losing You.
As young as he is, this is Zachary’s sixth record! You can learn more about this young and prolific artist at zacharylucky.com
Well, there it is Good People – the sound of Autumn, 2013. Well, some of the sounds that have turned my crank recently.
What do you think? Do you have any favourites from above? What’s on your own turntable (real or virtual) this season?
Tell me all about it in the comments section. Otherwise …
So, just as we did for 10 Summer songs, it’s now time to turn our attention to my personal favourite season, which is Autumn, or Fall. It’s such a great season, it’s got two names (depending where you’re from, I guess). Autumn is known to be a time when the natural world is about to take a long nap. But, it’s also a season of reflection, too.
Autumn is a time of beautiful melancholy, of wistful feelings of things past, and even of mourning. It’s a time when things get a bit dimmer earlier even if vibrant colours abound. It’s kind of a contradictory season in that way, which makes it the most compelling time of year for songwriters of various stripes to be inspired to take on the subtle emotional charge that autumn seems to provoke in many. Come to that, this kind of contrast between between beauty and melancholy is what I appreciate in music as a listener as well.
So, with that thought, here are 10 autumnal tunes of greatness from across musical history, and with several musical traditions represented. Perhaps the overt jubilation of Summer isn’t to be found here. But, the beauty to be found in reflecting on Summer’s past sure is, as is the appreciation of what memories we’ve made in a season gone by. To me, that’s the spirit of Autumn itself.