ard-nos asked: what are your favorite album covers/album art?
This is a great question. Here are five of my immediate favorites:
5 Essential Fall Vinyl Records
From a musical perspective, Fall is my favorite time of the year. This is the case for a number of reasons. For one, lots of albums get released in the Fall because bands want to make the year end lists and don’t want to risk releasing their albums too late in the year. I also have nostalgic ties to a lot of music that I’ve listened to in Autumns past, which I talked about in detail in my Fall 2010 Nostalgia Mix post. Furthermore, quite a few of my favorite artists also happen to have music that sounds like it was made for the Fall, including artists such as Elliott Smith and groups like The Feelies, whose pastoral 1986 The Good Earth is my quintessential Fall album.
But most of all, I think that a lot of music just sounds better at this time of year. Vinyl records sound especially good during the Fall, as though the crispness of the air matches the crisp sound of the record spinning. Since I’ve been thinking about this phenomenon lately, I’ve been listening to some of my favorite records all morning and thinking about how they sound in the changing Fall atmosphere. Here is a collection of some of my favorite vinyl records to listen to in the Fall.
- 1. Nana Grizol - Ruth (2010)
This album is definitely one of my most played records of the past year. I first heard it towards the end of 2010, just in time to put it on my top 50 albums of 2010 list. The album almost cracked the top 10 on that list, but based on the amount of times I’ve listened to it since then, I would have to say that it deserves to be at least in the top five if not higher. I bought the actual record in February at Redscroll Records, and since then I’ve been waiting for the Fall to come so that I can hear it in its prime. Ruth is a collection of warm, heartfelt songs that range from aggressive folk (bordering on folk-punk, but not quite) to quiet and gentle acoustic elegies that never lose their underlying sense of hope.
- 2. Bright Eyes - Lifted or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground (2002)
I scoured countless record stores to find this record just because I knew that it would sound even better on vinyl than it does digitally or on CD. I couldn’t find it at any traditional stores, but I did finally manage to acquire a copy when I saw Bright Eyes in Brooklyn in August. I reviewed that show HERE if you’re interested. Lifted has been my favorite Bright Eyes album ever since I first heard, and I view it as the only Bright Eyes record that fully lives up to the conceptual ideas behind it. It’s a great concept, and such an expansive and grand album that it absolutely deserves to be listened to as a tangible, physical product. The album’s merits are entirely amplified by the physicality of the vinyl format. It just feels more real. This could be said about most records versus digital files or CDs, but the difference in listening experiences is greater for this record than any other record I’ve heard. As musically diverse as the album is, it all sounds great at this time of year.
Sample: “False Advertising”
- 3. American Football - American Football (1999)
This one was another Redscroll Records purchase. I bought it in the middle of Summer, anticipating many plays throughout the next few months, and it has not disappointed. It’s another one of those records that just sounds noticeably better on vinyl, and while I consider it a little more of an end-of-summer record (hence, “The Summer Ends”), it serves its purpose as an early Fall record quite nicely too. I think most 90s emo music sounds fit for the Fall months. The meticulously-crafted intertwining guitars and calm vocals on this record call to mind the slowly falling leaves of this time of year.
Sample: “Stay Home”
- 4. R.E.M. - Green (1988)
Like American Football, R.E.M.’s 1988 LP Green is perhaps better suited to Summer nights than Autumn days, but listening to it at this time of year procures warmly mixed feelings of nostalgia. It should be said that only about half of the songs on Green fit this description, but the ones that do sound like that fit it perfectly. Melancholic standouts like “World Leader Pretend” and “You Are The Everything” are just sad enough to prepare the listener for the coming months, while the closer “Untitled” has enough hopefulness contained within its 3 minute length to look ahead to the spring thaw. Some of the other tracks, such as the storming Vietnam war indictment “Orange Crush,” don’t really call to mind the Fall atmosphere, but they do hit a little harder on vinyl than on CDs. My dad is actually the one who owns this record, which he bought in its original release year. He owns all of R.E.M.’s 1980s records on vinyl, which is pretty awesome.
Sample: “World Leader Pretend”
- 5. Carissa’s Wierd - Songs About Leaving (2002)
Fall doesn’t have to be a depressing time of year, but it certainly can be. With the bleakness of Winter constantly bearing down on us throughout the Autumn months, it can be hard to stay optimistic. If you want to embrace that depression, Carissa’s Wierd’s Songs About Leaving is the record for you. This album is utterly devoid of any hope or happiness, and might even be a better Winter album than a Fall album. I remember listening to this record a lot last Winter and just feeling awful all the time so maybe that wasn’t such a good idea after all. It’s still a fantastic album though, and the vinyl packaging on the recent Hardly Art reissue that I have is beautiful.
American Football - “The Summer Ends”
School starts tomorrow. I can hear the leaves turning.
Let’s just see what happens when the Summer ends.
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 8/12/11
Here’s the full playlist from last night’s Left of the Dial radio show that I did on WNHU. Tune in again next Friday at 6 PM Eastern time as always for another live broadcast.
Click the song titles to listen to the tracks on youtube.
- 1. Grandaddy - “He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s The Pilot”
- 2. Tame Impala - “It Is Not Meant to Be”
- 3. Dirty Projectors - “Remade Horizon”
- 4. Wild Beasts - “Bed Of Nails”
- 5. Destroyer - “Kaputt”
- 6. Animal Collective - “Banshee Beat”
- 7. American Football - “I’ll See You When We’re Both Not So Emotional”
- 8. The Wonder Years - “And Now I’m Nothing”
- 9. Titus Andronicus - “Breed” (Nirvana cover)
- 10. Julie Doiron - “Heavy Snow”
- 11. Dirty Beaches - “Lord Knows Best”
- 12. Washed Out - “A Dedication”
- 13. A Silver Mt. Zion - “Movie (Never Made)”
- 14. Sufjan Stevens - “Seven Swans”
- 15. Sharon Van Etten - “Love More”
- 16. Nana Grizol - “Cynicism”
- 17. The Mountain Goats - “Get Lonely”
- 18. Suns - “This Can’t Be Me”
- 19. Into It. Over It. - “Pontiac, MI”
- 20. The Magnetic Fields - “The One You Really Love”
- 21. Built to Spill - “Made Up Dreams”
- 22. Bright Eyes - “Nothing Gets Crossed Out”
- 23. Modest Mouse - “Heart Cooks Brain”
- 24. Explosions In The Sky - “So Long, Lonesome”
- 25. Elliott Smith - “Somebody That I Used To Know”
American Football - American Football (1999)
When I bought this record at my local record store Redscroll Records in Wallingford, Connecticut, it was a beautiful Summer day. Ten minutes later, the skies opened up and unloaded more rain on this state than it had seen in at least a month.
Coincidence? I don’t think so. Now it’s time for me to listen to Mike Kinsella cry over gorgeously harmonizing math rock guitar leads and serene trumpet the way that it was all meant to be heard — on vinyl, in the rain.
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 6/17/11
Last night’s show was a success, coming on right before I went to The Space to see The Antlers with Little Scream. The playlist is below, complete with youtube links to each song when available.
- 1. Radiohead - “Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box”
- 2. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - “Contender”
- 3. Cults - “Abducted”
- 4. Japandroids - “Wet Hair”
- 5. Sufjan Stevens - “Come On! Feel the Illinoise! Part I: The World’s Columbian Exposition / Part II: Carl Sandburg Visits Me in a Dream”
- 6. Castevet - “Chilsen”
- 7. Algernon Cadwallader - “Pitfall”
- 8. The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die - “Six Seeds”
- 9. Into It. Over It. - “Pontiac, MI”
- 10. American Football - “Never Meant”
- 11. Everyone Asked About You - “Paper Planes, Paper Hearts”
- 12. The Antlers - “French Exit”
- 13. Free Energy - “Dream City”
- 14. The Replacements - “Raised in the City”
- 15. Reatards - “Memphis Blues”
- 16. Eddie Golden III - “Fish Hook Frank”
- 17. Spider Bags - “Bad Complexion”
- 18. Bob Dylan - “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”
- 19. Jonsi - “Go Do”
- 20. The Antlers - “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out”
- 21. The Library of Congress - “Doctor Faustus”
- 22. Hallelujah The Hills - “The House Is All Lit Up”
- 23. The Hold Steady - “Stevie Nix”
- 24. The Mountain Goats - “First Few Desperate Hours”
- 25. WHY? - “Gemini (Birthday Song)”
- 26. Thurston Moore - “Benediction”
- 27. Nick Drake - “River Man”
- 28. Titus Andronicus - “Waking Up Drunk” (Spider Bags cover)
Remember to tune in next Friday from 6-8 PM on WNHU!
Song of the Day Number 132
American Football - “The Summer Ends”
Actually, this is the perfect music for right now. In eight minutes 2011 will be here and 2010 can be forgotten. I received a text today that said “everything cruddy about 2010 is now gone. wiped away. or at least that’s what i like to think”. I think that’s lovely. Somebody tell that person I said thanks, and I really think you’re wonderful. Good night, 2010.
“That’s life, so social”