Oh autumn. Tis’ the season of football, falling leaves, and basic-ness summed up by pumpkin spice lattes and Ugg boots. Now that autumn is officially underway, let’s take a look back at five alternative albums that came out during the month of September.
Disclaimer: this is not a power rankings of all alt albums, rather a list of notable ones and some that might have slipped under your radar.
1. Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam, I Had A Dream That You Were Mine
Within 10 seconds, you can recognize the uniqueness of the pairing that Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam (Hamilton Leithauser and Rostam Batmanglij) bring. However, both musicians stay true to their characters, as their own timbres and styles frequently pop out to the listener during “I Had A Dream That You Were Mine”. With lyrics dealing with the past, dreams, and the supernatural, it is only proper that this album is rooted in nostalgia. All the songs are an homage to the great musical history of the United States. Throughout the album, we hear a wide array of musical styles ranging from folk and western, to blues and gospel. We hear influences of Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan in the virtuous voice of Leithauser. We’re all thankful that this super-duo was able to deliver something that both their fan groups can latch onto.
2. Kishi Bashi, Sonderlust
In this masterfully crafted 10 track album, we experience the violent cycles of love: first with overwhelming happiness and hope of happily ever after, followed by hearts left shattered with the crushing realization that all is not meant to last. Using his incredible talent as an instrumentalist and lyricist, Kishi Bashi’s Sonderlust leaves all its listeners emotionally impacted. Undeniably inspired by his separation from his wife of 13 years, we see the truths of love. But fear not, Kishi Bashi does not leave us totally in despair; the cycle of love rears back towards hope in the end.
3. The Growlers, City Club
With the Growlers already beloved by many, they might have gotten their biggest endorsement from Strokes front-man Julian Casablancas, “Nor gypsy, nor skater, nor goth, nor hobo, nor surfer, nor punk, yet somehow all of these things. The Growlers just might be the most interesting band in the world, certainly one of the coolest.” That’s why he signed them to his label, Cult Records, and jumped in on their fifth album, City Club. Showcasing their multi-layered styles and inventiveness, this album sees the Growlers take on a sort of bad-assery unseen by their listeners from long ago. Do not worry though, this isn’t the kind of arrogant sound that ends a band’s likability. It’s one that shows they know they’re creating the good stuff; no sleazy executive or original fan is going to tell them how to make their music.
4. La Femme, Mystère
Do I understand a single word they are saying? 95% of the time, no. That doesn’t stop the “Alternative Autumn Academy” from recognizing talent originating across the seas. Our foreign album choice is the killer Mystère by French indie-pop group La Femme. There’s a groovines in here that transcends the language barrier and allows the album to flow continuously from track to track. Did they maybe get thrown on this specific list because they have a song named “Septembre”? Maybe, but hell, it’s still a great album.
5. Bon Iver, 22, A Million
With 22, A Million dropping on the last day of September, it was without a doubt to make the list. Let’s get one thing straight right away; this is a polarizing album. It’s easy to immediately dismiss this as garbage, but if you stick with it you realize how wild this project is. It is a work of art that has shown a total abandonment of musical conventions, leaving the listener often times trying to grasp at any sense of normalcy but never doubting the pure genius behind the music. The profound lyrics also follow this trajectory, with Vernon contemplating the things we often have the hardest time processing: life, death, and the very idea of human existence. All in all, the easiest way to prepare you for this album is as follows: buckle-up, kids. We’re going on an existential trip.