“Never Friends Now” by Brianna Lea Pruett
“Never Friends Now” by Brianna Lea Pruett
“Stay Awake” by London Grammar
“Swingin Party” cover by Lorde
“Old Panda Days” by Casiotone for the Painfully Alone
“Jungle” by Emma Louise
What is it about the end of summer that shifts my musical tastes? Is it getting older (my birthday is TOMORROW kids)? Is it that back to school feeling that still shows up every year mid-August, even though I haven’t been a student in five years? I get invigorated, I get nostalgic, and I get hungry for whole albums, not just the repeated-a-million-times songs and playlists that I favor all summer.
Here are my five end of summer albums this year—what are yours? Meet me in the comments and let me know what you’re listening to.
Sun is Sunk by Eux Autres
Eux Autres makes delightful indie pop reminiscent of Slow Club, with their alternating vocals from brother sister duo Heather and Nicholas Larimar, and tone shifts that facilitate breezy cheer and heartbroken angst, sometimes simultaneously. Sun Is Sunk is catchy as sin and built for flighty warm weather attention spans with it’s brief songs and EP-length track listings. It’s a solid soundtrack for savoring the last remnants of summer.
Top Track: “Home Tonight”
We Brave Bee Stings And All by Thao with the Get Down Stay Down
No matter what your work/life situation is, it feels like back to school season. The air is crisp, once in a while anyway, slipping into your week for a day or two at a time to remind you that cool weather and change are around the corner. Autumn is my favorite season—it’s perpetual presence lured me across the country to my current foggy home. It’s invigorating and nostalgic, much like We Brave Bee Stings, which recalls kids tables and swimming pools, a rich mix of childhood memories and adult issues, delivered in a perfect alt folk package.
Top Track: “Beat (Health, Life, and Fire)”
Little Joy by Little Joy
Little Joy is an irresistible mix of Brazilian and American indie rock, with a hearty splash of twinkly, starry eyed, classic pop. A supergroup of Los Hermanos and The Strokes, Little Joy is an album you can tumble into. There’s no song digestion, no discomfort of the unfamiliar—it sounds like something you’ve heard before, in the best way (and isn’t this, really, the beauty of the supergroup? The delightful old/new?). Something about it sounds like a great movie soundtrack, and I’d very much like to see the film that matches this sweet, gentle album.
Top Track: “Brand New Start”
Middle Brother by Middle Brother
I get really folky in early autumn. And the cover of Middle Brother looks like autumn living, from its leafy background to its bevy of bundled up, flannel clad songwriters (from Dawes, Delta Spirit, and Deer Tick respectively). Maybe late summer is super group season, since this is the second one on the list, and it makes sense. It’s that nostalgia and fresh, new back-to-school feeling tangled together, the craving for something new but still warm and comfortable. This album has been a favorite of Joshua’s on CCJ for a while, and I’m glad I finally sank my teeth into it, especially at this time of year.
Top Track: “Blue Eyes”
Blue by Joni Mitchell
Some nights, when it’s crisp and things are changing, when maybe your birthday is right around the corner and you’re, I don’t know, lets say moving across the world for the next three and a half months—you may want some pure musical comfort food. Listen to Blue. No matter what your situation is, go listen to Blue, because it has everything you need and then some. It is a treasure trove of situation-perfect-tracks, it’s classic, it’s heavenly, it’s aged with an unbelievable amount of grace, and it’s early-70s-Joni-freaking-Mitchell, who is the unequivocal boss.
Top Track (…this time around): “River”
“The Hour” by Valerie June
You can figure out your entire life on a flight. Something about that quiet grey square of uncluttered time stirs up your brain, makes you consider and examine your life in detail without rush or distraction.
Or you can eat a bazillion snacks and binge on the absolute worst romantic comedies. Either route is okay. I usually aim for half and half. While no one writes songs about inhaling pretzels and watching Jennifer Aniston clumsily fall in love on screen, facing feelings in mid-air is a theme that’s captured repeatedly in music. Whether you’re ready for take off, or daydreaming of getting away, these top five flight songs make the perfect soundtrack. Pairs well with tiny bags of peanuts too.
“Red Eye” by Haim and Kid Cudi
There is no chaos like unexpected red eye chaos. I’ve had it only once and remember vividly waking up to my forehead slamming against the seat in front of me, the sharp breath and anxiety of flying into a stressful situation on a stressful flight, the trippy half sleep of an unmedicated mind in a darkened plane. The initial piercing “Hey!” in “Red Eye” feels apt, as does the mania of the chorus: “Things get crazy and I feel I’m losing my mind/ I don’t know what to do.”
“Over the Ocean” by Best Coast
The clouds were roaring, ghostly, spacious Never Ending Story beauties during my 14 hour flight to Melbourne. I was spellbound. I’d flown at night a million times, but the sky had never looked like so much midnight blue colored velvet, a darkness you could stare into endlessly, that satisfied some primal dream state and lulled me to sleep where I dreamt in wild spinning Technicolor, dreams full of swashbuckling adrenaline laced adventure that made me wake up different and ready for a new location. Betheny Cosentino’s lo-fi vocals repeating “I remember looking out the window/Seeing nothing but blue and grey” is the perfect musical equivalent of being lost and mesmerized midair.
“From A Window Seat” by Dawes
The mundane details here become massive—-heroes! Warriors! Rivers, freeways, tribal dances! Existential crisis in a sky-bound bucket seat. It’s spot on—there’s something about that isolated, otherworldly chunk of time that can make your mind and reality expand and contract. Emotions get bigger on planes. Movies seem better (or at least worth watching). Peanuts are more delicious, appetites are more insane. Dawes get it right—every detail, every moment, every feeling seems enormous during take off and landing, and in the lost grey hours in between.
“Plane” by Mount Moriah
Heather McEntire sounds like a perfect blend of early Lucinda Williams and Roseanne Cash. Her voice and the spare, dark drums and strumming pair seamlessly with McEntire’s vocals and gorgeous detailed songwriting , which focuses on the revelatory, emotional nature of flight:
“And I’d rather be resting in your arms
Than this window seat where everything’s clear and warm
In the stratosphere and these heated chairs
O’er the thin, thin, air I just wanna be down there”
“This Flight Tonight” by Joni Mitchell
It’s a 40something year old song, but the in-flight details stand the test of time: “I’m drinking sweet champagne/ Got the headphones turned up high.” Mitchell is flying away from her complicated lover, wanting to “turn this crazy bird around” while sifting through her relationship in the blackness between heaven and town. It’s rich and enchanting, like all of Blue, and has another weird modern touch of song sampling at the end.
“River” by Joni Mitchell
“The Wire” by Haim