On Friday night, we will once again mark the autumnal equinox, officially kicking off the most beautiful season in much of the United States (and the first day of Spring for those of us in the Southern Hemisphere).
Not only does Fall mean changing leaves and a crispness in the air, but it is high tide for Pop Culture. The new season begins on television; prestige movies fill the theaters; the King of American sports eclipses events that would rule any other time of the year; the 2012 election moves into a matter of months; bands try to cash in on the iTunes gift certificate redemption season. Three months of Fall normally hold more goodies than the other three seasons combined.
So this week, we’ll examine the menu and whet our appetite for what’s to come.
Music is the only Pop Culture subset that isn’t necessarily at its strongest during the Fall. Summer is probably its best season… outdoor concerts, festivals, catchy singles (at least, most years). Album sales have been slaughtered by the Internet revolution, but Christmas season still accounts for the biggest chunk of the yearly total. So, plenty of artists rush to put stuff out to try to be the album people download from iTunes because they don’t know what else to do with the gift certificate they got in the office swap.
Here are seven albums that are worth a listen this Fall, mixed with three we probably won’t be downloading… see if you can guess which ones!:
Wilco-The Whole Love
It’s hard not to think that Wilco have passed their expiration date. The list of bands that have a prime longer than ten years is short. Wilco had a killer first decade (A.M. through A Ghost Is Born)… since then, they’ve come out with the boring Sky Blue Sky and the irrelevant Wilco(The Album). If The Whole Love keeps up the slide, it’ll pretty much prove that the addition of jazz guitarist Nels Cline killed the band.
Adorable Canadian, and most successful member of Broken Social Scene, Feist had a solid effort with her last album, The Reminder. Metals is supposedly a raw recording of stuff she did with friends in a barn in Big Sur. Hopefully, it has a good, chill driving album vibe.
Scott McCreery-Clear As Day
A mixture of the smirkiness of Rick Perry with the musical mediocrity of Lee DeWyze? Yes, please!
Ryan Adams-Ashes & Fire
Following Ryan Adams is exhausting… in his first decade since leaving Whiskeytown, he’s come out with twelve albums. Gold was a classic… Orion was a “fully-realized sci-fi metal concept album”. What makes this one worth noticing? For one, it feels more serious… it’s on a major label and was produced by Glyn Johns, the classic rock stalwart who was name checked in Almost Famous. Adams is usually at his best when he plays fairly traditional roots rock. But it might just be that we checked out on Adams around the time of Jacksonville City Nights, and are due to take a look.
Tori Amos-Night Of Hunters
“A 21st century song cycle inspired by classical music themes spanning over 400 years,” according to Wikipedia, “the concept centers on a woman who is left alone on the eve of her relationship’s demise in an old Georgian house… As dusk turns to night, the woman is confronted by Annabelle, a shapeshifting “childlike creature” who “emerges from nature”, played by Amos’ daughter… The mythical creature, representing “duality”, as well as the ancient forces of “the hunter” and “the hunted”, coaxes the woman to follow her into the night, transporting them both approximately three-thousand years into the past to witness a previous incarnation of the woman’s relationship… After their sojourn into the past, Annabelle inducts the woman in an ancient peyote ritual which is meant to further expand her consciousness through both hallucinogenic and meditative means. During the ritual, Annabelle helps the woman realize how she abandoned her own fire and inner-strength when she left her world in favor of her lover’s… Once the ritual and woman’s self-examination are complete, Annabelle reminds her of the perils and benefits found in using and misusing the ancient energies of “the hunter” and “the hunted”. The creature also advises the woman that there are “forces” at work that must be dealt with and that she must leave her so that she alone may face the Fire Muse, played by Amos’ niece… The Fire Muse reminds the woman that more than just her own mortal pains and desires are of concern and, together, as the fiery goddess calls upon the woman to see the world from a higher perspective, they weave a spell to protect the light of the world from the forces of darkness.” Yes, please!
Jane’s Addiction-The Great Escape Artist
Alright, this is pure Generation X nostalgia. But it has to be better than Strays… please, god, let it be better than Strays.
Lou Reed & Metallica-Lulu
Huh… OK. Lou Reed is one of the progenitors of metal… Metallica is one of its most musical purveyors. This may seem odd on its face, but here’s betting it works.
An album full of songs like Every Tear Is A Waterfall? Yes, please!
Florence + The Machine-Ceremonials
Could easily turn out to be the best album to come out this season. Florence is the ’10s version of Natalie Merchant… powerful voice, delicate phrasing, tunes that both a hipster and a suburban mom can appreciate. All in.