Oh, spring and summer are such wonderful seasons for discovering new music. Watching the first leaves appear on the trees and wanting a soundtrack for all this new growth. Going to a festival, chancing to walk past a stage with a band playing who suddenly become my new favourite musicians EVER…
But in autumn, I want the familiar around me. Return to routine (kid back in school), return to old, warm cardigans, return to musical favourites. Autumn’s also - for me - a time for albums. A time to put the record player on and listen from start to finish whilst sewing on the school name labels, lost in a reverie of sound.
Some of my favourite autumn albums I’ve listened to pretty much every single autumn since my youth; one or two are slightly more recent finds, but in no particular order, here are my top five “albums to which I return every autumn”.
1. Tricky: Maxinquaye.
This is a gorgeous album; Martina Topley-Bird’s lush vocals combine with Tricky’s inventive sounds to create something really special, which to my mind at least hasn’t really dated, either. The piano at the end of Ponderosa (the track above) is one of my favourite things ever.
If you like this you might also like: Hello, by Poe.
2. The Mediaeval Baebes: Salva Nos
I remember when this album came out I thought, “where have you BEEN all my life?!” The Baebes are one of our influences, and we’ve even covered the song above (a more stripped down verson). This album is perfect for the later end of autumn, as it gets colder and frosty and starts to turn to winter.
If you like this you might also like: Madra, by Miranda Sex Garden (one of their early albums, full of madrigals).
3. Enya: The Celts
Yes, I know Enya isn’t “cool”. I don’t give a fig. I unashamedly adore this album. It’s imaginative, it’s faerytale-esque, and yes, it’s synthtastic. What’s not to love? This was one of the first CDs I ever bought, too (as prior to the early nineties I had everything on tape)! Also, the wonderful Uke of Carl has a ukulele tab for Enya’s Orinoco Flow, which I’ve certainly played at people quite a bit.
If you like this, you might also like: An Ancient Muse, by Loreena McKennitt (people often compare her to Enya, but I think she’s a LOT more folky).
4. Portishead: Portishead
I remember walking across the St. Kev’s field (as was - it’s now a housing estate) to get from my home to Kirkby station in order to get into Liverpool, with this playing on my walkman. (I’m really sorry, Portishead, but it wasn’t even a tape I’d bought; one of my bezzies had taped it for me. I have paid for your music since, though, so … forgive me?) Nothing quite so redolent of the end of summer as walking over an empty landscape with trees fast becoming bare, listening to this.
If you like this you might like: Beth Orton, Trailer Park (they’re actually not that similar stylistically, but there’s something about the magical bleakness of Trailer Park that I find very similar, atmospherically speaking, to Portishead. Also, for a brief while in my youth I confused Beth Ortion with Beth Gibbons, Portishead’s singer).
5. The Magic Theatre: London Town
A more recent addition to my autumnal mix this. This came out in 2010 but for some reason (WHY DID NONE OF YOU TELL ME SOONER?!) I only got around to buying it in the autumn of 2011. And then I played it endlessly. An album about a man from the sixties time travelling to the Victorian era and falling in love… what’s not to like? It holds a special place in my heart too, because during that autumn, I met Marc (the man who puts the “Jones” in “Moss & Jones”) and this music brings back memories of our first dates together. Though I hope our relationship doesn’t end with him going back to his own time zone.
If you like this you might also like: The Long Way Home, by The Magic Theatre.
They’re my top five return to autumn albums (although honourable mention must also go to the Moulettes’ self-titled album, Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, The Streets’ Original Pirate Material and Mono’s Formica Blues). What are yours?
* I’m using “young” in a really loose sense. The other day I couldn’t remember if I was 37 or 38.