November is a horrible month. Sun is nowhere to be found if you want to go out and have a couple of pints with your friends at an hour as early as 4pm. It's pitch black when you wake up to go to work, it's pitch black when you leave work. The hedonistic coziness that autumn promises fades away when your socks get soaked immediately upon leaving your house. Banking on hot sugary beverages can get you so far at the end of the day.
For that very reason, I depend heavily on music to provide a sense of comfort and ease during these unholy times. Here are 20 great autumnal albums that does the job for me.
James Blake - The Colour In Anything
As the artwork suggests, this album is the sonic embodiment of a fog above your head. Drowned in melancholy and clanging sounds, The Colour In Anything is James Blake's tour-de-force where he portrays his recognizable production methods in its full allure. The otherworldly synth arrangement in the beginning of I Need A Forest Fire mimics the coldness of a brisk wind and sends shivers down your spine almost immediately. The album is quite depressing in its nature, as it tackles subjects like depression, heart break and solitude. Not an ideal listen if you need a pick-me-up but objectively the best if you need some company in your misery.
Favorite song: Choose Me
2. Field Medic - Fade Into The Dawn
I crave a good old acoustic guitar when fall hits and Field Medic's Fade Into The Dawn fills that need quite well. It wraps you up in a blanket of folk-dipped warm fuzz through sweet lyrics and lo-fi arrangements. Each song feels more autumnal than the other, each bejeweled with heavy sentimentality. This record feels like walking on crisp autumn leaves on a Sunday with good company, a coffee in hand (mulled wine if it's past 5pm). Read our interview with Field Medic here.
Favorite Song: Henna Tattoo
Favorite lyric: "Hello moon / I’m your broken child / Your dog in denial / Do what you’re gonna do" from Hello Moon
3. Yo La Tengo - I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One
This album is a treat for anyone who can't concentrate. It might seem silly to state that as it has a runtime of 68 minutes but the way Yo La Tengo jumps from an influence another keeps this record wildly dynamic. Shoegaze, ambient, rock, bossa-nova... Anyone can leave this record having found a track that speaks to them. Autumn is the season of beginnings and endings and tracks like "Damage" and "The Lie and How We Told It" capture those shifts in a relationship dynamic in its most honest form.
Favorite song: Autumn Sweater
Favorite lyric: "Every day breaks screech outside my window / Those crashing cars never seem to collide." from Deeper into Movies
4. Cassandra Jenkins - An Overview on Phenomenal Nature
Cassandra Jenkins's second album flows like a waterway. It's filled with anecdotes, casual conversations and vivid experiences. It has many vulnerable and introspective moments that encourage listeners to turn the mirror to themselves. Those moments of introspection though, are never represented in a heavy manner but through a tender and forgiving approach. It carries the sweet melancholy of the last days of summer, both through the impeccable artwork and through the lyrics. The perfect pick to reminisce on sunsets and beautiful moments shared with friends.
Favorite song: Crosshairs
Favorite lyric: "I wanna be the blank white screen / Allow the movies to be seen / Comedy, tragedy / Come and go, but none become me" from Michelangelo
5. Helena Deland - Someone New
In Someone New, Helena questions who she is, how she sees the world and how the world perceives her. It's not an easy-breezy listen. Being one of my all time favorite albums, listening to Someone New is a new experience every single time. These songs make me think of the darker side of autumn where we fall into the lap of the dark days and the questionings that this season bring about. While it might not be for everyone, those who are ready to embark on a journey of self-understanding will connect with this album on so many different levels. Read our think-piece on this album here.
Favorite Song: Someone New
Favorite lyric: "I'm used to being the actress / Surprised in mid-practice / Rehearsing love 'til it's real." from Mid Practice
6. Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher
Phoebe Bridgers owns fall and winter. She is in her element, ready to break hearts through her lyrics and minimal yet potent and at times, cathartic production. Punisher is filled with beautiful and alluring songs about heart break, Elliot Smith, Halloween and the end of the world. Her take on intimacy, retained emotions, the subtlety and the sorrow are are worthy of being studied and listened over and over again. Her silky vocals pairs really well with cold days, warming you up even while she is singing devastating lines likening herself to a dog with a bird in its mouth.
Favorite song: Moon Song
Favorite lyric: "Because I think when you're gone it's forever / But you know I'd stand on the corner / Embarrassed with a picket sign / If it meant I would see you / When I die" from Chinese Satellite
7. Slowdive - Souvlaki
I travel quite a bit to see my friends when fall hits as I require some warmth from secure friendships during hostile cold days. Souvlaki is my go-to bus album, I play it over and over again until I fall asleep. Its atmospheric and ethereal soundscape is truly entrancing and makes you feel as if you're floating on a star. It's more of an experience than an album, conjuring a hazy imagery that stands alone on its own. The unparalleled atmosphere of Souvlaki is an amazing pick for anyone who needs to detach from monotonous routines and visit spacey daydreams.
Favorite song: Altogether
Favorite lyric: "I didn't really lose you / I just lost it for a while" from Dagger
8. Maple Glider - To Enjoy is The Only Thing
Through gently finger-picked acoustic guitar sounds, an atmospheric wash and operatic vocals, To Enjoy is The Only Thing is the definition of warmth. The subjects handled (solitude, loneliness and unsureness) are gently balanced with tender vocals and hopeful lyrics. The record exudes the energy of a slow-burning fire, ready to be set off at any moment, through cathartic songs like Mama It's Christmas. It understands the hardships that different seasons bring and solitude. Read our interview with Maple Glider here.
Favorite song: Swimming
Favorite lyric: "I keep waiting through the hours of cold / Pressing for the sun to come and find me / Must I bring my own torch?" from Performer
9. Taylor Swift - folklore
This album was huge when it came out, both for year-long TS fans and people who didn't like her music. It seemed to be everyone's mutual meeting ground when it came to how much they liked it, and for good reason. Folklore, as the artwork suggests, encaptures autumn's grey-is haze. Embracing folk and singer/songwriter tropes, folklore shines with pensiveness, introspection, reminisce and beautiful memories. The story-telling on this record is stellar, making the album sound like a story book that you would like to read again and again.
Favorite song: mirrorball
Favorite lyric: "
10. Beach House - Depression Cherry
Through its excellent compositions and harmonies, Depression Cherry is a delightful listen from start to finish. It's so easy to get lost in this record due to its fuzzy wash and simple yet alluring lyrics. I imagine dancing around with someone to this album, being drunk out of my mind and looking at the other person as if they're a gift from God. If that naive dream doesn't act as a solid proof about its sweet sweet nature, I don't know what does.
Favorite song: Space Song
Favorite lyric: "A world inside you / No photograph / My natural one / The rising sun / Live in your mind"
11. Clairo - Sling
This record is Clairo's best work to yet, as it is also Jack Antonoff's best producing credit. The two hit a rare nail on the head through Sling, being able to capture a mellow and cozy sound that remains truly unique even when the duo embraces easily distinguable palette of references. The watery pianos, retro and indie arrangements and the funky keyboards carries this album to a place that her first record couldn't reach. She sounds comfortable in her skin more than ever in this heavily fall-is record.
Favorite song: Zinnias
Favorite lyric: "I see the end before it begins / No use to work, no use in anything
A crack in the sky / The heaven's hand / A cloud just for you and a place to land." from Little Changes
12. Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
If I had to pick the most "fall" album among the recommendations that I provided so far, Illinoise would be sitting at the top confidently. The kitsch titles, the sombre colors of the album and the string arrangements lay beautifully on top of Stevens' concept album. It's an expansive record that guides you through a multitude of emotions during its entirety. It creates a very bright and colorful soundscape by utilizing various instruments, the vivid story-telling being the cherry on top. An amazing record overall.
Favorite song: Chicago
Favorite lyric: "All the glory when he took our place / But he took my shoulders and he shook my face / And he takes and he takes and he takes" from Cashmir Pulaski Day
13. Fleetwood Mac - Rumuors
Being one of the most influential records ever, Rumours is packed with addictive melodies, impeccable guitar work from Buckingham and an alternation between amazing vocalists and songwriters. The album starts strong from the beginning and never stops, each song building something on top of the one before it. Dreams is one of the the most beautiful melodies on the album, a real work of art. It's an exquisite listen from start to back.
Favorite song: Never Going Back Again
Favorite lyric: "And I wish you all the love in the world / But most of all, I wish it from myself / And the songbirds keep singing / Like they know the score" from Songbird
14. The Magnetic Fiels - 69 Love Songs
Besides being the biggest compilation of love songs ever (69 love songs!) it's also an amazing record to have on your shelf for fall. The melodies and lyrics presented in this record are heart-achingly beautiful and sweet. The sense of humor and sarcasm of Merritt makes it even better and breaks the cheesiness of the record and what a relief that is. Imagine listening 69 literal and self-serious love songs. Ugh.
Favorite song: I Don't Wanna Get Over You
Favorite lyric: "Should pretty boys in discos / Distract you from your novel / Remember I'm awfully in love with you." from Come Back From San Francisco
15. Laura Marling - Alas I Cannot Swim
Laura Marling's first studio album is absolutely one of the best folk albums of the 2000s. She proposes an incredibly mature writing on Alas I Cannot Swim which claims its flirtation with artists like Neil Young, Bob Dylan, James Taylor or Joni Mitchell. Each song proves her sharp observations and wit as a song writer. It exudes a bittersweet longing for the past and a hopeful road map for the future. Marling stands her ground and sings about fear, loss and love unlike anyone has ever done to this date.
Favorite song: Tap At My Window
Favorite lyric: "Sexual being / Human with feelings / The two are not me / The two will not be mine / And what can you do / With a girl, if she / Refuses to be mine?" from Your Only Doll (Dora)