The foliage moved like murmuration.
Sitting with a cup of oolong tea, looking up at a mountain with autumn colors, I witnessed a patch of yellow’d trees move like a flock of starlings. The wind had been brisk all morning, after a long night of rain, brustling both with resolute force and gentle ease. (The poetic motion reminded me of Avatar, a late-to-me cartoon series that I’m now sharing with my toddler, as the air bent in a dance with the forest.) In that five or ten minutes to myself, I became lost in the dots of an impressionist motion picture… entranced, unwilling to step back and take in the full view.
We’ve taken several trips now to rural West Virginia, where our quarantine family has a one-bedroom cabin built by Michael’s grandfather several decades ago. We spend our days cooking meals over a fire, baking bagels and pies, drinking beer and wine, taking hikes and dips in the nearby river. There’s no cell service or internet. It’s simple and restorative, especially in a time that’s anything but. Lately, I’ve brought along a small suitcase of cassettes and a portable audio player from RadioShack. Untethered to daily distractions and undaunted by limitless choice, it offers a rare opportunity for (mostly) dedicated listening. (There is, of course, a toddler running about.)
I took that idea a step further on the road from D.C. to West Virginia last weekend, opting for a small box of CDs instead of an aux cord to my phone. The station wagon’s stack was long overdue for a refresh anyway. Fall music runs nostalgic for me, which typically means the music that defined college or late high school, like Low, Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter, Arthur Russell, Holopaw, Ted Leo, Uncle Tupelo, Luxury, His Name Is Alive, Kelly Hogan and the Mento Madness compilation.
Oh, and Ida. If you have not gazed listlessly into falling leaves while listening to The Braille Night or Ten Small Paces, you have not properly autumn’d.
So slightly inspired by Marissa’s annual foliage playlist, here is my own, airbending autumn, featuring much of that leafy-change nostalgia, but also a few new songs by Ash & Herb and HAIM, a summery band that turns golden hues in “Honey & I.” — Lars Gotrich
Oh, And The Regular Playlist
36 tracks. Y’all get two playlists because I skipped last week. Begins with Van Halen’s “Atomic Punk” (RIP Eddie). Mdou Moctar’s “Chismiten” really does sound like Tuareg arena-rock. “Take Care” the most beautiful song Sadie Dupuis has ever written and I feel blessed that I get to experience it. If you ever wished Sonic Youth went anarcho-punk, then get thee to Girls In Synthesis. Speaking of, I like Thurston Moore’s new solo album; his lyrics are still whatever, but his riffs are so delightfully chunky and weird. Emel sings the Tunisian blues. I’ve always thought Miley Cyrus was a super-talented singer/performer who makes poor producer/songwriter choices; her live “Heart of Glass” cover confirms that she really needs to lean into this glam-punk phase. Jon Collin and Demdike Stare’s collaboration doesn’t make sense until you hear their quietly clattering blues. New metal from Mr. Bungle, White Crone, Spirit Adrift, Amiensus, Glorious Depravity, Tombs, Serpent Column and Guilty View.