This is Chicago. And the first rule of Chicago is that summer doesn’t last forever. But don’t let that get you down – there’s plenty of music out there to match that heat-bust- ing wind and hurtle you towards multi-sensory harmony. From the subtle plink of soft keys to the warm fuzz of slow-motion static haze, here are our picks for fall.
1 Moon Duo – Escape (2010) F Pick:“Escape”
Moon Duo put out an excellent album earlier this year – one that pops, swings and hooks. But that one (“Mazes”) isn’t on this list. Instead, for fall, “Escape” is the album to go with. Here the duo darts around underneath thick blankets of haze in seven-minute slabs of palpable fuzz, soundtracking those endless gloomy commutes.
2 Ty Segall – Goodbye Bread (2011) F Pick: “Where Your Head Goes”
“Goodbye Bread” is what you get when you mix T. Rex with red wine and Quaaludes, only in the best way possible. Sloppy in all the right places, Segall tones down his usual summery freak-out to a cocksure, autumnal swagger, and just in time for those first jacket-laden days.
3 The Cure – Faith (1981) F Pick: “The Drowning Man”
One has to imagine that The Cure’s Robert Smith spends a good deal of time in front of a mirror to get that black dandelion hairstyle of his. That’s time spent staring at himself in introspection, which lends itself to the sullen, mopey, existential crisis of “Faith.” Good for wondering why you would ever live in a place that gets so cold.
4 Beach Boys – Pet Sounds (1966) F Pick: “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)”
You hear “Beach Boys” and you think of summer – “Surfin’ U.S.A.,” “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “All Summer Long” – fair enough. Nevertheless, one of their best efforts, “Pet Sounds,” rolls back the shoreline and makes way for shimmering strings and choir-boy harmonies – in a word: autumn.
5 Sigur Rós – Ágætis Byrjun (1999) F Pick: “Olsen Olsen”
Moody, sobering and interrupted by sudden, dramatic explosions of warmth: we could be describing fall weather or the music of Sigur Rós. Choosing their most beautiful album is like deciding which Great Lake is the wettest. Our fall nod goes to “Ágætis Byrjun,” easily the Sigur Rós-iest album, meaning the lows are stygian and the highs are transcendent.
6 Oneohtrix Point Never – Returnal (2010) F Pick: “Stress Waves”
You’ll trip over the band’s name when you first try to say it, just like you might balk at their sound when it first comes on. “Returnal” sounds like circuit-bent electronic waves crashing on your head, or more thematically speaking, like leaf-shaped breadboards tumbling in gusts of autumn wind.
7 Abdullah Ibrahim – Cape Town Flowers (1997) F Pick: “Song For Aggerey”
“Cape Town Flowers” is an album from 1997: the boorish year of Biggie’s death, “Spicemania” and boy band feuds. I only mention this because Ibrahim somehow manages to conjure up the sweet and simple piano work of early ‘60s jazz in the face of over-the-top pop culture. Perfect for leaf-crunching evening strolls.
8 Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um (1959) F Pick: “Better Get It In Your Soul”
The mercury will dip and the cold will start gnawing the tips of your bones. Stave off the impending gloom – stoke the fire deep in your belly with lead track “Better Get It In Your Soul.” Rollicking, wild and soulful, this track sets the pace for a jazz master- work. Stomp your feet and chase that cold right out of the house.
9 The War on Drugs – Slave Ambient (2011) F Pick: “Come to the City”
As the sunlight fades and gloom encroaches from the edge of every day, it is easy to feel sapped and lack motivation. “Slave Ambient” offers a subtle, driving tempo that will both match your mood and the looming darkness outside. The invocations of great (forgotten?) America may just inspire you to achieve something tremendous (like get out of bed).
10 Telefon Tel Aviv – Immolate Yourself (2009) F Pick: “You Are the Worse Thing in the World”
In a city of over 2.5 million people, it can be impossible to feel alone. The best fall activity you’ll never find in a guidebook is taking a walk along the lakeshore during tempestuous weather. Bundle up, blast “Immolate Yourself” (noise-cancelling headphones double as earmuffs) and feel like the only person on the planet.
11 The Weeknd – House of Balloons (2011) F Pick: “The Morning”
Choose wisely when pairing up this fall. You’ll spend the next several months parasitically clinging to one another, desperate for warmth as the TV reruns and take-out cartons pile up. Find your fall fling and seal the deal by throwing on “House of Balloons.” Wait for the first chorus of “The Morning” and commence discard- ing pretenses (and clothing).
12 Morphine – The Night (2000) F Pick: “I’m Yours, You’re Mine”
All brooding vocals, relentless baritone sax, throbbing bass and slick drums,the music of Morphine is like a too-big gulp of smooth scotch. Like liquid fire, the ensuing warmth is comfort- ing but short-lived. Tales of woe begin and end with such illusions of warmth – “The Night” provides the perfect soundtrack as expectations are raised, then rudely dismissed.