Mumford and Sons Babel, Band of Horses Mirage Rock and the 10 Best Indie Albums This Fall
The cool breezes of fall hit New York City this weekend, rustling flouncy dresses, and cuffed pants. Lucky for us, in with the chill comes a host of new albums record companies have been saving up for the new season.
1. Field Report
Release date: Sept. 11
Field Report is the work of Chris Porterfield, a frequent musical partner of Justin Vernon (of Bon Iver). His music has that same sweet sensitivity, but veers farther towards Americana with cascades of plucked guitar and traditional song forms. He layers his folk sound over a wash of organ and synthesizers that are sure to please listeners who like their music thick, introspective, and melancholy.
2. St. Vincent and David Byrne
Much is expected of this talent-laden collaboration, and much is delivered. St. Vincent doesn’t shine quite as much as she might have had her fancy guitar work been more featured, but given her collaborator, it is impressive she is able to get a word in edgewise. Her quirky writing style fits in well with David Byrne’s notoriously odd vocals, and lends their work some extra energy.
Release date: Sept. 11
This album is the sonic equivalent of a plush blanket and winter squash soup. Creamy and soulful, this Sub Pop Records release will leave you basking in the warmth of their echoey production. The album features the Ben Weikel’s excellent drumming (who played on Modest Mouse’s 2009 album), and Brandon Summers’ forthright vocals and atmospheric guitar.
Don Miggs got lucky when he hired a neighborhood kid to help him build out his music studio so he could record an unsigned album. Turns out this kid is named BJ Ramone because his godfather is Billy Joel, and because his father is Phil Ramone, producer of Bob Dylan, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Dionne Warwick, and now this album. Connections, connections. I’m not going to vouch for the musical quality (think overwrought 1990’s songwriter rock), but now you know how shit gets done.
With all the accolades the band received last time (Grammy nominations, best album lists, etc.) expectations for this album must have been weighing on them. Band of Horses has decided to take a bold stylistic move by hiring producer Glyn Johns to give them a more focused and guided sound, and indeed Johns (The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, etc) has added a full and retro touch without losing the ambiance much loved by the NPR crowd. This collaboration has resulted in a harder, old-school sound that pushes them further towards electric Neil Young – a good solution to moving forward without leaving their fan base in the dust.
Rlease date: Sept. 18
Ed Droste's smooth crooning still gets the full dose of vocal harmonies that Grizzly Bear is known for. The band doesn’t skimp on complexity either, casually spinning layers of textures and cross rhythms that give the album the momentum so many bands strive for. I’m excited about this one.
Release date: Sept. 24
Since fans caught on to the band’s acoustic strumming, catchy lyrics, virtuosic plucking, and melodic vocals, their sophomore album has been heavily awaited. Though they do their best to cultivate their image as country boys, focusing on their traditional harmonies and folk sounds, Mumford & Sons ground their folksiness in thick production values that gives their sound a more modern and appealing edge.
Release date: Oct. 1
John Cale, founding member of the Velvet Underground, and always full of invention, releases Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood at the tender age of 70. What began as single-track collaboration with Danger Mouse a few years back begins this album.
The track, released in advance, gives a taste of the ragged edges Cale caresses in much of his music, but it has a tight rock form and dryness that makes it easy to follow, and appealing to those who like their rock straighter than Cale often takes it.
Release date: Nov. 11
Yes, I am aware Big Boi is a rapper, but he has been collaborating with a variety of artists for his sophomore album, including some on the indie circuit. Sarah Barthel of Phantogram made the cut, as did Little Dragon (on “Mama told me”). Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse was one collaborator who might not have made the cut, and rumors of a supposed collaboration with Kate Bush will most likely remain rumors.