Monday, September 17, 2012

Seasonal Music: Five Awesomely Autumnal Albums

With the changing of seasons upon us, we move from bright summer to gloomy autumn. I am always prone to following my mood into the music I become momentarily obsessed with, and for some reason, maybe a completely obvious one, fall brings with it a longing feeling. Maybe it's the departure back to school, losing summer's hormone-driven loves, or just a temperature drop that is the impetus, but I can personally say I am driven toward Emo music. Oops.

Although not all of these albums can be perfectly ascribed to the Emo genre, they certainly due elicit feelings of change and wanting, which is what fall brings for me.

Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) - Home After Three Months Away (2011)
Released just last year, Empire! produced a perfect piece of Emo revivalism. A brooding EP with just four songs, Home After Three Months Away is textbook midwestern Emo with symbolistic lyrics, shifty guitars, and Keith Latinen's higher register vocals. Even the heavily recondite references for song titles are here - "Everything Small Is Just a Small Version of Something Big" is an Adventure Time reference. This was my favorite EP of 2011, and I don't think there's anything about this release that won't age well. There's nothing better than taking a walk listening to this EP; and at ten minutes, Home is just the right amount of Emo to get your day ruined started. You can check out the entire EP at Empire's Bandcamp.

Brand New - The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me
I mean, if you haven't listened to this album yet, I don't know why you are still reading this: Go listen to it. Devil and God is one of those albums you heard in high school and it encapsulated everything you ever wanted to feel about losing someone. Clocking in at almost an hour, "Sowing Season (Yeah)" sets the mood for a record that deserves your full attention. One of Flatted Third's contributing writers, Benjamin Goodheart, detailed Brand New's discography comparatively to Crime in Stereo's last week. Goodheart called Devil and God the defining moment of Brand New's carrer, and after you listen all the ay through, it'll be easy to see why. Just as I was reviewing the album to write this, I kind of fell back into old ways, stopped writing this article, and finished the album. Maybe that's why it took so long...

The Antlers - Hospice (2009)
In 2009, The Antlers released one of the most heart-wrenching albums of all time: a detailed story of a hospice worker falling in love with a patient, and their ensuing descent. During almost every song, there are tender moments that feel as though they could fall apart at any moment, dissolve in time and memory. An extremely personal album -- although lead singer and songwriter Peter Silberman never divulges which parts are fiction and which are autobiographical -- Hospice certainly isn't for anyone who struggles with themes of loss and helplessness, as it can darken any blacks. The record is devotedly beautiful and fragile, never producing a listen that doesn't reveal a new aspect of the sound or arrangements. At the end of Hospice, Silberman sings "You're screaming / And cursing / And angry / And hurting me / And then smiling / And crying / Apologizing," a testament to the emotional range contained within this record; it's not for the weak hearted. 

Sunny Day Real Estate - Diary (1994)
If I were detailing a list with a  preface saying it dealt with largely Emo records and didn't have a Sunny Day Real Estate release on it, people would not recognize this article as my own - I personally love this band and think they're the storied rock band no one knows the history of, and they should. Diary was the band's debut album, with Sub Pop prepping SDRE to pick up where the grunge superstars Nirvana left off; the pressure and weight of these expectations are audibly present throughout the album. Diary ended up being Sub Pop's seventh best selling record of all time, a very impressive feat. The band was just getting off a statewide tour when they recorded Diary, forcing vocalist Jeremy Enigk to sing through the physical strain the tour had caused - this is one of the defining characteristics of the record, producing a more emotionally poignant delivery, on the brink of crackling. "Song About an Angel" is the ideal SDRE song, illustrating the held-back, quiet verse / loud chorus formula the band instilled in the second ave of Emo. 

Bright Eyes - Every Day and Every Night EP (1999)
I could have easily put an Elliott Smith record here instead, but why not give the "boy wonder" some credit. Back when he was anything but a happy kid, Conor Oberst released the Every Day and Every Night EP, everyone's favorite high school breakup EP - well, it was certainly mine, I don't know about you. This is the only Bright Eyes record I own, and I am proud to say so because of what may be Oberst's best song, "A Perfect Sonnet". The mentioned track is one of the best examples of Acoustic Emo music: violent and spiteful lyrics delivered with a palpable emotional ire. I would also like to point out this is the second time Oberst teams up with folk wizard Mike Mogis who handles a variety of instruments and production.

So these are the albums that I will indulge my autumnal self in, and I hope you will too. There's no use in bumping party anthems and sweet tooth pop when you can stay inside, wrap yourself in blankets, and revel in fall's gloomy goodness.  

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