Fall brings with it a sense of endings. It makes us consider the ephemerality of life. But it is also a time for new beginnings, new school years, fresh elections. We see a change in weather as the leaves start to fall, even if climate change seems hell-bent on robbing us here in New York of that pleasure. If your record collection seems to be dragging just as much as the season, consider giving a few of these autumn releases a spin.
Nashville natives Bully follow up their 2015 debut LP with Losing. The album charges from the very start, with singer-songwriter Alicia Bognanno’s powerful howl fully intact. The record would sit comfortably on a shelf next to 90’s college rock stalwarts Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Weezer or Hole. Bognanno’s vocals jump from gravelly roar to tender breaths and back again, adding a powerful dynamism to her personal lyrics — exemplified by the album’s opening track, “Feel the Same.” She lets us listen in to a vulnerable moment in a romantic relationship: “Spoke with you last night. (Do you still hate me?) But you were upset. (I miss you lately.) But I felt calm when I woke up. (Let’s just forget it.) Found my head. (I won’t regret it.)”
It’s a cathartic, emotional, empowering record.
If you’re looking for something a little more easy-going, pop on Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile’s Lotta Sea Lice. This album comes as a collaboration between two of indie rock’s biggest names in recent years. Barnett’s debut LP Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit was one of 2015’s best albums, and certainly one of the strongest debut records in recent memory. Kurt Vile’s excellent record b’lieve i’m goin down came out that same year. Mutual admiration brought them together for an altogether pleasant album. The pair’s mutually laid-back styles make them a natural couple. It results in singalong-worthy harmonies (“Let It Go,” in particular, stands out), traded verses and a quirky naturalism — like maybe we’re just listening in on two buddies having fun with rock songs.
With last year’s Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, Margo Price planted herself firmly in the mists of modern country greats, earning her supporting spots for Willie Nelson, Chris Stapleton, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. Praised for her apt storytelling — reminiscent of classic country legends like Emmylou Harris and current label-make Loretta Lynn — Price has taken her sound a step further with All American Made.
It’s a welcome addition to a genre that’s going through a bit of a renaissance. A little more bluesy, a little more soulful than Farmer’s Daughter, the record is also one that will undoubtedly push country forward. Price turns outward on Alll American Made, examining the world we’ve found ourselves in and speaks her mind without a filter. “Pay Gap,” takes shots at gender injustice. “At the end of the day it feels like a game, one I was born to lose,” Price sings. “This institution, a dead revolution, is giving young women abuse.” Price carries the torch for country music, women and America on this stellar record.
If hip-hop’s more your flavor, give Antwon’s Sunnyvale Gardens mixtape a shot. The San Diego rapper established his musical pedigree in the hardcore scene but found rap to be his true calling. He has been known to collaborate with a diverse group of musicians, often working with folks who don’t typically produce rap music. His wide array of influences and collaborators makes for an interesting, completely individual record.
The standout track, “Visine,” featuring up and coming sad-boy rapper Lil Peep, finds the pair smoking weed without eye drops to mask their THC-fueled antics. The song mixes hip-hop braggadocio with laid back, almost melancholic beats and melody. As a whole, the mixtape is funny, weird and guaranteed to merit repeated listens.
If you’re in the mood for a comeback, you’ll probably be interested in The Professionals’ What In The World. Formed by Paul Cook and Steve Jones of the dissolved Sex Pistols in the early 1980s, the band entertained a brief stay on the British punk rock scene before calling it quits. They’re back this year with a star-studded album. What In The World features contributions from members of The Clash, Def Leppard, Guns ’n’ Roses and others. Overall the album is clean without sacrificing edge, precise and fun as hell. It has a spirited energy that could challenge any punk band with members a quarter all these guys’ age, all the while maintaining a clear rock veteran’s approach to songwriting.
With autumn quickly approaching (hopefully), your playlists could probably use a change of color too. These records will carry you through the rest of the year or until winter, at least. Happy listening!
Photo (top): Antwon. Credit: Brandon Anderson.