As we wind into October, that season of change and also of a heightened awareness of ageing, vulnerability and regret, we acquire a taste for music that reflects our accelerated moodiness. Bittersweet, vengeful and cunning, with more than a healthy dose of self-awareness and depreciation, this week Headphones charts a list of songs that plumb the depths our changing emotions as the trees become barer and the evenings grow chilly, and the front gate to our houses, like our minds, begin to rust.
Angel Olson – Sister
Angel Olson went from scoring every indie girl’s plodding bus journey to winning the heart of music lovers worldwide with My Woman, a soul-searching and guitar-scorched instant classic. The way Olsen changes melody in a single line for emotional effect is breathtaking, and the brutally honest yet sweetly gorgeous confessional prose of her lyrics make you feel like she’s telling you too much too soon. On “Sister” Olson makes the haunting confession “She came together like a dream, that I didn’t know I had,”, and turns the track into an anthem of sun-kissed despair with line ” from the sleeping life I lead” . What happens next, as “Sister” becomes a Neil Youngesque take on exploring the limits of a rock song, all intricate guitar playing and seemingly never-ending mini-choruses, until makes the decision to repeat, breathlessly, “All my life I’d thought I’d change” AN autumnal anthem for the experience culture generation.
Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam – A 1000 Times
Emerging with his second solo album since the demise of legendary New York quintet The Walkmen, Hamilton Leithauser returns this autumn with I Had A Dream that You Were Mine, a collaboration with Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmangli. Creating a lo-fi attempt at recreating the classic crooner sound of the ’50s and 60s, the duo belt out what sounds like an in instant classic in “A 1000 Times.” A heartworn paen to a lost lover, this tale of the endless road to redemption is given poignancy and wit by Leithauser’s raw, refreshingly immediate vocals. A welcome return for one of Indie’s undersung heroes.
Beach Slang – Punks in A Disco Bar
Philadelphia’s smart-ass punk revivalists Beach Slang have all the gall to make a record worth jumping to this late in the day of ‘oos electro malaise. A lovelorn number about a scene you know is failing, “Punks In a Disco Bar” is a song about not caring when you hear something you love is past it’s prime. “When they taught me to talk/ they told me to shut up/ I never cared America”-is songwriter James Alex’s two cents cents on the hypocrisy of social expectations in a world built on presumptions-his snarl and infectious disaffection has all the promise of making him this generation’s Paul Westerberg.
Morgan Delt – Some Sunsick Day
Psychedelia, lo-fi and a solo records might sound like unusual bedfellows in this day and age, but San Francisco sundowner Morgan Delt provides a collection of multi-layered, swampy gems on his debut Phase One. Sounding at once classically trained, nightclub tested and unlike he leaves his bedroom regularly, the bittersweet combinations of Delt’s anti-optimism and fired-up soul has all the trimmings of a cult classic.
How To Dress Well – Can’t You Tell
Whereas Tom Krell’s last masterpiece What is This Heart? lingered on the darker side of falling in love, his newly dropped Care bursts with the kind of joy ususually experienced during the dizzy early days of a new mutual romance. It’s funny to think that it’s almost shocking to hear the achingly-sincere Krell declare at the the start of “Can’t You Tell”-“I wanna lay you down and take you right there”-but one supposes even an endorphin rattled Tom Cruise jumped on Oprah’s couch while announcing the news of a new, exasperating love. Air with caution, of course, but Care is probably the most alluring burst of stereo optimism this Autumn will have to offer.
Warpaint – Above Control
The influence of post-punk is one that reverberates throughout Warpaint’s new offering Heads Up. A far more live sounding effort that their rickety, Trip Hop-worshiping self-titled second album, this is the sound of Warpaint jammin’ out together again, resulting in a rich, cavernous mix of longing vocals and rhythmic propulsion. The bass sneaks all over “Above Control” like a sniper planning a ruthless attack, while the guitar tease alongside urgent nursery voices insisting “get out my life.” It is the sway of giving in, of letting go of inhibition that determines this track’s attention deserving, irresistible edge.