Check out these 10 atmospheric autumn albums

by Patty Templeton

The gray clouds are coming. The red trees will be. Soon, pumpkin spice will coat everything. Decorative gourds are gonna flood from Walmart, and a cinnamon cider scent-cloak will wrap the world. That’s right, goblin gals, fiendish fellas, and every glorious ghoul between, AUTUMN’S ALMOST HERE! To celebrate, drop a needle on one of these 10 fiercely fall records.


“Pagan Science,” The WellYou’re standing in the woods. A swollen, yellow moon hangs low. A gaggle of witches – or maybe they’re stoners . . . or maybe witch-stoners – dance around a bonfire. One offers you a PBR. Crack it open, and a riff wallops around you. It sounds like it could be an ancient tree rooting over a guitar on a fog-formed night; it’s the psychedelic doom of “Pagan Science,” by The Well.


“Outside,” o’deathA woman in a long black dress throws a rope over a beam in a ramshackle barn. She steps on a crooked stool. She stares out the double doors. Her face is framed by a noose and there’s a tremor running through her. After more than an hour of watching firebugs brighten the barnyard, she decides to give it all one more go. She starts humming the song “Bugs” from o’death’s dark Americana album, “Outside.”


“All the Roads that Lead Us Home,” Gaelynn Lea

The coffee shop is hidden in a cluster of orange trees. You wouldn’t have found it if you didn’t take that gravel turn off the main road. Your best pal hands you a hot cuppa and the breathtaking feeling that everything’s gonna be OK settles in you. The shop smells like fresh baked bread. The ethereal, earnest classical of Gaelynn Lea’s “All the Roads that Lead Us Home” fills the café, and your belief in better times coming turns into a certainty.

[image:5]“Knuckleball Prime,” Willy Tea TaylorThere used to be a time when you had more friends than you could count. When the nights were busy and the bills didn’t matter. Those were the days before your sister had PTSD and you two’d drink a Saturday away – when booze felt like adventure, not addiction. The deep-feeling folk of Willy Tea Taylor’s “Knuckleball Prime” ain’t gonna fix your life, but it will make you feel less alone on that creek walk you take instead of having a whiskey bath.

[image:6]“Unseen,” The Handsome Family Sometimes you can feel the beating heart of the world, but you gotta be calm and quiet-like. Find the right place, too, like standing behind an Arizona Waffle House as the sun sinks over a cactus-cluttered horizon while the country noir of The Handsome Family’s “Unseen” strains from a passing pick-up truck.

[image:7]“Jane Eyre Original Motion Picture Soundtrack,” Dario MarianelliLove is a crack of wonder in a dull life, but it can turn into a chasm you lose yourself in. If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself as governess of Thornfield Hall, falling for your enigmatic employer, and returning after time away to see blackened ruins because someone living in the attic set the manor ablaze. Sound absurd? Read “Jane Eyre” while listening to the somber-yet-soaring Dario Marianelli movie soundtrack and tell me it couldn’t happen to the best of us.

[image:8]“Flood,” Jocelyn PookOccasionally, you’re going to book an AirBnb that has a mystic sex cult merrymaking behind a false wall in the closet. When you’re unexpectedly staring at that fornicating, fleshy fun time, it wouldn’t be unusual to hear the theatrical classical of Jocelyn Pook’s “Flood.” Expect plague masks, swinging skin, ribbon tatters, and the melancholy specter of Stanley Kubrick.

[image:9]“White Light,” Sidewalks and SkeletonsThe city’s slick with rain. It’s midnight. You’re swaggering in a back alley searching for a club – one of those compact, concrete dives that only seem to exist in flicks set in ’80s Berlin. The streetlight pops and the alley goes dark. A purple glow emerges when a nearby door opens. The grim-gorgeous witch house of Sidewalks and Skeletons’ “White Light” beckons you in.

[image:10]“Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon,” Murder by DeathThe old Ford drove fine even though it whooshed through the church in a flash flood and had to be cut down from a dead oak. That engine still grumbled. Nobody knew whose it was, but a waterproof bag holding more than a few hundos and a tintype of a menacing, love-sick couple was in the glove compartment. Radio even worked. Murder by Death’s hard luck but hope-throated “Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon” spilled from speakers even after 10 years later, the battery dead and milkweed growing through the cracked seats.

[image:11]“Mirel Wagner,” Mirel WagnerScratch and scratch, but there ain’t a way to carve yourself out. You’re interred within the trunk of a hollow-yet-living sycamore. The tree will grow and swell, and eventually you’ll die, but not before beetles burrow into your heels and you hear a woman, Mirel Wagner, sorrow-singing her self-titled first album as she walks down the suburban street on which your death-tree lives.

— Patty TempletonSpecial to DGO


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