As the leaves change and the weather grows cold, we all must face the truth: Sad Boy Fall is upon us. Here are some records I've been listening to a lot while savoring the soft melancholy of autumn before it metastatizes into regular old winter depression.
hot change – Cavity
A one-man project by a buddy of mine. Cavity embodies a great bummer-punk, crunchy vibe and wields it against themes of body consciousness, trust, longing and leaving things behind. The title track is really perfect (plus I broke a tooth recently, so).
Zanski – Phenomena
I don't know if I want to really critique this LP, which is already going on my "best of the year" list, but it really is the perfect album released at the perfect time to score my rainy season. Comfortable but firm like the you-shaped impression in an old mattress, and buzzing with static like the thrift-store hoodie you've been sleeping in.
Working for a Nuclear Free City – Businessmen & Ghosts
I heard Eighty Eight from this album years ago, attached to a reel of fabricated footage of 1910s airplanes and tanks fighting off alien tripods from the mockumentary The Great Martian War. That should give you a good idea what the tone is like. B&G is music to send echoing through an abandoned factory, or through your mind all day after you listen to it. Full of tape loops and repetitive riffs that fade in and out like they're passing behind a cloud.
Jerry Paper & Easy Feelings Unlimited – Toon Time Raw!
Stone's Throw / May 15
Had a hard time deciding between this one and Fuzzy Logic here but I think the latter is more of a summer-night listen. Narratively about a city of animals fighting various neuroses in the style of Branson Reese et al., Toon Time Raw! frames frequent Jerry touchstones like self-image, consciousness, and decaying relationships with a more personal touch than anywhere else. A blend of frustration and hope you can easily sing along to the whole way through.
Video Age – Living Alone
This one was in a similar "feels more like summer" position that almost excluded it, but man, have I been playing this one a lot lately. Video Age rocks, and their synthpop spin on lyrics about uncertainty, the long climb of personal growth, and the feeling that you belong somewhere else makes a great record. Throwing Knives is a song we should send into space on a golden record in case any aliens recently had sort of a weird day and want to work it out.
Jordana & TV Girl – Summer's Over
It sure is. The TV Girl style (sample-and-kick-heavy tracks about rejection, accidental emotional overinvestment, and ungratifying sex) lends itself to Jordana's vocal work seamlessly. The New York theme might not pin me as hard as someone who lives there, but part of the Sad Boy Fall ethos is letting yourself imagine.
Jan Jelinek – Loop-Finding Jazz Records
I wanna thank my buddy Spenser for sending me a track off this album for my Spotify playlisit "Music For Ants." A great ambient album on its own that I'm sort of commandeering to put on this list because of my own ambient-music habits and their relationship to my mood. Smooth, airy, cozy.
Songs For Moms – I Used To Believe In The West
I've talked about SFM online before. They defined the brief but intense angsty period of my early teen years and they continue to score the nights when I'm feeling a type of sad that I might be getting a little old for. It's also a technically and musically excellent record about womanhood, bodily autonomy, and romantic betrayal, themes that are really not meant for me but come through as emotions anyway.
They Might Be Giants – I Like Fun
Reader, if you follow me you will be unsurprised to see a TMBG album on this list, and if you know me you will be even less surpised it's this one. Mrs. Bluebeard alone might qualify as the SBF anthem, but from the "working things out loudly" rock of Last Wave to the "feeling weird and just riding it out" nausea of McCafferty's Bib, I Like Fun is a sad-boy powerhouse.
Her's – Invitation To Her's
This album poppeed up on my Discogs watchlist like eight times before I actually bought it because it was apparently a big hit with guys in Austria who charge fifty bucks for shipping. Anyway, it's great. Bassy, stretchy, weirdo pop about longing, loss, and reconciliation. A special commendation to Harvey, which is either written to a recent ex-lover or a runaway pet and which gets me to quietly sing along to the "maybe they buried him under the lawn" verse with the singer's goofy affect every time I hear it.
Thanks for reading my list. I'm not really sure what compelled me to put this together. Well, really I am but I already talked about it up top. I hope this music helps you as much as it's helped me this fall and in falls past.
Script courtesy of Luke Haas.
Images via Bandcamp.
Type set in Inter by Rasmus Andersson.