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11 Great Albums that Sound Like Autumn

You should never go into the changing of the seasons without a good playlist to accompany you.

fall scene with pretty autumn leaves

I’m one of those people who (thankfully) didn’t peak in high school and was just waiting for the day when I got out, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have some good memories. Some of the best memories revolve around autumn, when things were primed to change and everything felt like it was full of possibility.

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And what good is a change of seasons if there isn’t good music to accompany it? My favorite autumn albums have always heralded the change in seasons and made them more memorable, and now, I’d like to pass them on to you. These are, in my opinion, some of the best albums to play on repeat during fall splendor.

The Clientele, Suburban Light

Once upon a time, before TikTok and Insta reels, we had Vine and all the artsy film students who populated one particular corner of it. These people would make delightfully brain-tickling six-second videos highlighting the catchiest parts of various songs, while pairing them with fitting visuals.

One song I saw constantly was “Reflections After Jane,” by The Clientele. One thing led to another and the band became one of the staples of my late teens. That specific style of twee indie has since become a thing of the past, but I’m so glad we got it at all, because the particular sounds of this album are so crisp and unique that they can’t really be replicated in totality.

Broken Social Scene, You Forgot It In People

There are so many “quintessential indie albums to get into during your teens,” and I’m confident in saying “You Forgot It In People” is a veteran of the Top 10s. Ironic, then (or maybe fitting), that I left my CD copy in some guy’s car when I was 18 and never saw it again.

I don’t know what they put in the PNW’s water that makes their music sound so fitting for fall, but this album is absolutely no exception. I can’t describe it, it just sounds like an album that’s meant to suit change, activity, and a healthy mix of contemplation and progress. God, even just listening to this one song again suddenly makes me a kid again, doing art homework and getting excited about the future.

Happyness, Weird Little Birthday

Moving a little bit forward in time, Happyness came into my life during my sophomore year of college, which is funny considering my sophomore year was by far the most dramatic. I first heard “Weird Little Birthday Girl” during fall quarter, and I’d listen to it in its entirety as I walked to and from my classes.

The entire album is perfect for walking around your city or town while the leaves are changing; it’s great thinking music. The lyrics are clever, too, and if you really stop to listen to them, you can’t help but laugh at how absurd they can be. I just love the end to this song in particular: “It’s a weird little birthday, it’s a weird little song. She’s a weird little girlfriend, we don’t really get along.”

Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes

I’m gonna go ahead and give a shout out to our girl Annie, who reminded me that Fleet Foxes existed, and who recommended their folksier album, Helplessness Blues. I love Helplessness Blues, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like their self-titled has more of a claim to a list like this. If straight-up folk is what you want, we’ve got a list for that, too.

Just like with You Forgot It In People, this is one of those quintessential starter albums that also just makes autumn. It’s timeless, and I say that because I still can’t believe it’s as old as it is, since it doesn’t sound like it’s aged a day. Hopefully we’ll get more Fleet Foxes soon.

Girls, Album

I first discovered this song when I was in middle school, and my family couldn’t afford to move back to San Francisco (damn you, yuppie tech bros!), and I was feeling a little down and out about it. I’ve loved Girls immensely ever since.

Now, I think there are better songs on the album that encapsulate the autumn vibes (“Ghost Mouth” and “Hellhole Ratrace” come to mind), but I had to share this song in particular because the music video still kicks ass. Every song on this album conveys a sort of commonality and hope that, to me, are central characteristics of the season. Makes me wanna get up and dance again.

Yo La Tengo, And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out

Those aforementioned feelings? The ones I just talked about? If Album carries them hard, And The Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out carries them even harder. The vibes that this album emits are so powerful, they’re almost indescribable.

…I really mean that, by the way. I don’t know how to describe this album without cheapening it. You just gotta listen to it. Take a long drive, go walk in the city, lay down in a park, just give yourself an opportunity to listen to it all the way through.

Vundabar, Devil for the Fire

As the newest album on this list, Devil for the Fire would need quite the strong pair of legs to stand with the established hitters here. And yet, it does. It does in spades. It’s a fantastic album, which I’m honestly shocked over, since so many indie bands tend to lose their sense of style when they’ve been together as long as Vundabar has.

More to the point, I’m shocked Vundabar still sounds like Vundabar after all the TikTok acclaim they’ve been getting for their older song, “Alien Blues” (which got a feature on this album). They’re a special group, and this album really speaks to that. If the other albums on this list make me wanna sit back and sigh over the passage of time, this one makes me wanna get up and run barefoot on pavement.

Current Joys, Me Oh My Mirror

You know how Spotify did that “Artist of the Decade” thing a couple years back? Current Joys was my guy. I was almost insufferable in how often he featured on my playlists. When I worked the register at a grocery store, I’d play him on stereo. In a lifetime of waiting and wanting, his music was the ultimate accompaniment, and it will only continue to age beautifully as new generations discover it.

Now, I gotta admit, I’m not as big a fan of his later albums, and I think this album in particular fits this list the best. But if you like how this sounds, you should honestly listen to the rest of his discography.

Sasami, SASAMI

Sasami is probably the coolest woman in indie right now, which means that she’ll unfortunately fly under the radar for the most part. Absolutely criminal. And yet, fitting. I don’t think a lot of people are fully equipped to handle what she’s bringing to the table, yet I share all the same, since this album is an autumn banger.

It’s contemplative and introspective, and it tackles a lot of really raw, vulnerable feelings that I sure as hell appreciated when I first found it. Plus, she’s just an immensely talented musician on a technical level, and it shows. I think I listened to this album every day, this time last year. And even after all that, I can’t say I’m sick of it in the slightest.

Kings of Convenience, Riot on an Empty Street

This album (and also, this music video) is so unapologetically twee and particular, it’s almost funny. But I laugh with love. Kings of Convenience was probably my favorite band in high school, and when I think of the changing seasons, I automatically think of them.

Just a coupla guys from Norway, writing folk music about being quiet and preferring books to parties. It really is almost comical, but I also find the earnestness in them to be so enduringly charming. Eirik, Erlend, if you’re reading this: please come tour your new album in the states!

The Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground

Oh, sure, we had to put at least one classic on this list. And I can’t think of anyone more fitting than The Velvet Underground, with this album in particular.

There’s something for everyone here. “Pale Blue Eyes” is, in my opinion, one of the best love songs ever written. “After Hours” is for the introverts. “Candy Says,” for the girls who come home after a bad night out. And if what you really wanted from this list was something wicked this way comes, well, then you’ve got “The Murder Mystery,” which you should listen to on stereo, never mono.

In any case, that’s all she wrote—let us know if you’ve got any suggestions of your own in the comments!

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Madeline Carpou
Madeline (she/her) is a staff writer with a focus on AANHPI and mixed-race representation. She enjoys covering a wide variety of topics, but her primary beats are music and gaming. Her journey into digital media began in college, primarily regarding audio: in 2018, she started producing her own music, which helped her secure a radio show and co-produce a local history podcast through 2019 and 2020. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz summa cum laude, her focus shifted to digital writing, where she's happy to say her History degree has certainly come in handy! When she's not working, she enjoys taking long walks, playing the guitar, and writing her own little stories (which may or may not ever see the light of day).

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